2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Of course, it depends on your age, how fast you can walk, how much you're carrying
I'm no spring chicken but I am a good walker - I took 20 days to walk the 800km - walking on average for 7 1/4 hours each day and averaging 5.5 km per hour (peak about 6km/hr) - at home carrying 2.5 kg I can walk 30km along the flat in 4 hours (7.5 km/hr)
So you can do some practice walks and see what pace you're comfortable with
I'd initially estimated 33 days in line with the John Brierley book but as I walked more quickly I was able to change the date of my flight home relatively easily and cheaply
You might not need too much time in Santiago (the mass certainly) and I found the day trip to Finisterre on the coach was a much more appropriate end
I could not possibly do it in four weeks - and I've walked from St Jean three times. Each time it has taken me five weeks, and I allow six weeks or longer because of the time it takes to get to and from the Camino and what else I want to do. If you cut the time short you will always be fixated about distances and destnations. If that does not worry you, or you are happy to take the occasional bus, fine. Obviously many people do not have a choice. But if you do, give yourself plenty of time, start slowly, stop at Huntto or Orisson the first night, get fit along the way, stop to smell the flowers and see the sights. If you get to Santiago early, walk to Finisterre, or go see some other bits of Spain.
It is a sad thing to meet pilgrims on the Camino whose topic of conversation is based on fear. Fear of being late, of missing the flight, of getting injured and having to hobble in pain rather than rest and recuperate.
The thing is - you cannot predict it. It may rain and be ridiculously cold up in one of the three mountain ranges (Spain is the most mountainous country in the whole of Europe after Switzerland!) and this can slow you down. Also, things happen along the way. You may visit a church and become entranced and want - need - to go to the morning service. You may meet someone in distress and need - want - to slow down and help them. You may find a stream at the bottom of a small valley with bars of sunshine cutting through the trees, a tiny wooden bridge, bright blue butterflies dancing around your ankles, the clear sound of an almost eternal stream and a soft grass bank, where you can stop and soak your feet and just - BE - and then fall asleep, to wake so much later than 'your plan' with its flight at the end allowed. The pilgrimage can be a glorious thing - it is, but this includes the pain and if you get a shin-splint this will really stop you walking for a day or so. If you have to arrange a flight home then arrange one that leaves days to spare (you can always bring it forward). Then in Santiago, once the grime is off, you can sit and watch other pilgrims coming in and reflect, deeply, upon what you have just done, of all the billions of people on this blue pearl we live on, just a few, a very few, get to do this. If you are planning to go, for whatever reason you think you are doing it - God has called. Go. Return home when you can. And don't be afraid, the medieavals had to walk back as well!
Thank you for your wise words! I know you are right. From time to time it is important that people say thing like this on a forum like this, so that we remember. And your way of saying it was very nice!
An average of around 25 kms/day is easy to achieve but add in a few free days in places you just want to look at a bit more and you can take up to 32 days walking + 8 days checking out some of the the amazing places (Pamplona, Estella, Burgos, Castrojeriz (just loved checking out the castle), Leon, Sarria, Palas de Rei, etc.) I would count on around 40 days or more.
It is really worth slowing down by taking days off to look around some of the places you'll be staying. As has been said many times before - It's not a race!
You may never get back here to enjoy yourself as much as you can.