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How physically demanding is first week of Camino Del Norte?

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Past OR future Camino
April 2013, September 2013, April 2014, April 2015
It has been 7 years since I walked the Camino Frances with my son... I am looking at a short 7 day walk from San Sebastian to Bilbao this September to fit in with other travel plans. I will be walking on my own this time (😢) and a little apprehensive. I know one is "never alone on the Camino"... however it would appear much fewer people walk this route? Looking for reassurance that I will be ok (and safe?) from other solo female walkers. Also, I see this particular section of Camino Del Norte is the toughest (first week) ... how challenging is it? Does it compare with any sections of the Camino Frances route so I know what to expect? thanks. jo
 
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Barbara

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
It has been 7 years since I walked the Camino Frances with my son... I am looking at a short 7 day walk from San Sebastian to Bilbao this September to fit in with other travel plans. I will be walking on my own this time (😢) and a little apprehensive. I know one is "never alone on the Camino"... however it would appear much fewer people walk this route? Looking for reassurance that I will be ok (and safe?) from other solo female walkers. Also, I see this particular section of Camino Del Norte is the toughest (first week) ... how challenging is it? Does it compare with any sections of the Camino Frances route so I know what to expect? thanks. jo
It's got a lot of up and down. There are enough people by now that you will meet other pilgrims, but it's not the busiest of routes. It's safe, just like all the routes, but it can be more of a challenge if you want to do short stages. In terms of difficulty, it's a bit more hilly than the last 150 km of the Frances, but without the frequent places to stop. There are buses, taxis, trains and some stunning views. Quite often you can choose your level of difficulty by varying the route.
 

Scarlet Fez

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, Portuguese 2017, Del Norde 2018
It has been 7 years since I walked the Camino Frances with my son... I am looking at a short 7 day walk from San Sebastian to Bilbao this September to fit in with other travel plans. I will be walking on my own this time (😢) and a little apprehensive. I know one is "never alone on the Camino"... however it would appear much fewer people walk this route? Looking for reassurance that I will be ok (and safe?) from other solo female walkers. Also, I see this particular section of Camino Del Norte is the toughest (first week) ... how challenging is it? Does it compare with any sections of the Camino Frances route so I know what to expect? thanks. jo
I have only walked the Del Norte from Irun to Bilbao in May 2018. I had previously walked the CF 2016 and Portuguese 2017. I was at the time in my late 50's and in decent hiking shape although I will accept that I have never been a mountain goat on the steeps. I actually on the whole found it quiet tough and quite a challenge. It was also in places difficult to guarantee anywhere to buy a snack to refuel so unlike the CF felt I always had to have lunch available in my pack.
Funnily enough I have been considering getting a flight out to Bilbao mid June and continue the Del Norte from where I stopped last time. But common sense due to not being as fit as I was through a health matter over Covid but getting there thinking of getting a Bus to Burgos and doing 12-14 days from there which will be less challenging but have the company on the CF as and when I want it.
Decisions, decisions.
 

Suzanne S.

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(2015) Camino Frances/Muxia/Fisterre (2017) Caminho Portuguese/Fisterre
(2019) Camino del Norte
I walked from Irun in September 2019. I was 64. It was very tough for me, but I managed. During the first week, I was alone a lot of the time, but never all day. I do remember thinking at one point, after hours of up and down in damp and somewhat muddy conditions, if I die on this trail today, someone will find my body in the morning. HA!

The Norte was the toughest and the most gratifying Camino I have ever walked. It was also the most scenic. I never felt unsafe--just, at times, exhausted. If you are training for it, train on hills. 😉
 
I walked from Irun in September 2019. I was 64. It was very tough for me, but I managed. During the first week, I was alone a lot of the time, but never all day. I do remember thinking at one point, after hours of up and down in damp and somewhat muddy conditions, if I die on this trail today, someone will find my body in the morning. HA!

The Norte was the toughest and the most gratifying Camino I have ever walked. It was also the most scenic. I never felt unsafe--just, at times, exhausted. If you are training for it, train on hills. 😉
I totally agree with your assessment of the difficulty and the gratification of the Norte!
 
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Dennis Pack

Member since 2017
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago Norte 2018
I walked at this time of year in 2018 at 71 yrs of age ... the walk from Irun to San Sebastian was one of the most physically demanding. Partly because it was the first day, but it also starts with an early big climb. The fact it was also foggy and I was alone most of the time, and it was my first camino ... all added to the excitement.
I saw a lot of single women, mostly teenage Germans, walking on their own attests to how safe it is. Never heard of anyone having any problems.
Buen Camino.
 

WayWalker

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2016
It is physically demanding but with training you should be fine. Imagine the Norte for what it is. Along the northern obstacles of Spain where you walk over headlands and typically down into a town, village or city where a river meets the ocean and then back up over the headland and down to the next stop. While its physically demanding there are some of the most spectacular views and scenery anywhere. We found plenty of other pilgrims walking this route.
 
Past OR future Camino
August 2015
At 62 I found that that first week took everything I had. Up up up up up then down down down down down. I laughed, I cried, and I was extremely proud of myself for making it through that first week. I thought several times well, if I break my ankle I guess I’ll have to fly home. Very muddy and slippery conditions but gorgeous scenery. I didn’t have any trouble meeting people and found a friend on day two that I walked all the way to Santiago with. Buen Camino
 

Scarlet Fez

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, Portuguese 2017, Del Norde 2018
At 62 I found that that first week took everything I had. Up up up up up then down down down down down. I laughed, I cried, and I was extremely proud of myself for making it through that first week. I thought several times well, if I break my ankle I guess I’ll have to fly home. Very muddy and slippery conditions but gorgeous scenery. I didn’t have any trouble meeting people and found a friend on day two that I walked all the way to Santiago with. Buen Camino
Hi Rachel, so what would you say about the terrain for say a couple of weeks beyond Bilbao? I know I'm not up to it yet if its as tough as the first week from Irun.
 
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Past OR future Camino
August 2015
Hi Rachel, so what would you say about the terrain for say a couple of weeks beyond Bilbao? I know I'm not up to it yet if its as tough as the first week from Irun.
There were some tough spots but not constant. The walk from Bilbao starts quite industrial. Some people bus through that section.
I didn’t mean to scare you but wanted to let you know it’s tough.
 
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Former member 99290

Guest
Hi @yogaflowjo as others have said, the first week of the Norte is challenging. But the first day - from Irun to San Sebastián - is the most challenging in my view. As you are starting in San Sebastián, you won’t need to worry about that first stage.

Your first stage - assuming you walk from San Sebastián to Orio or Zarautz has a gradual climb before descending in to Orio. And another short climb before descending into Zarautz. It is not so difficult.
 
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Bales

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Sept 2019
1st Camino ever - started Sept 2019 - very
1st day out of Irun was very demanding
In fact we had labeled the mountain in front of us “The Monster” as we had explored the start of the route the day before
There is not another day on the trail that l believe is as hard as that 1st day But the walk into San Sebastián at the end of day one is mind blowing ( even if you are sooo stuffed all you want to do is collapse in a heap)
 

DonnaM

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
It has been 7 years since I walked the Camino Frances with my son... I am looking at a short 7 day walk from San Sebastian to Bilbao this September to fit in with other travel plans. I will be walking on my own this time (😢) and a little apprehensive. I know one is "never alone on the Camino"... however it would appear much fewer people walk this route? Looking for reassurance that I will be ok (and safe?) from other solo female walkers. Also, I see this particular section of Camino Del Norte is the toughest (first week) ... how challenging is it? Does it compare with any sections of the Camino Frances route so I know what to expect? thanks. jo
I did the Norte alone last September, I got to Bilbao in 5 days from Irun, yes it's pretty tough that first week with lots of climbs and descents, challenging, especially if its's hot, but incredible, both for the views and the feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top and bottom :) Take it slow, lots of water, snacks in case bars are not open and you'll be fine. There are other walkers, totally safe and it's a fantastic route, I would do it again in a heartbeat! The Peace Musuem in Gernika is worth a visit and of course the Guggenheim in Bilbao...Buen Camino!
 

Scarlet Fez

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, Portuguese 2017, Del Norde 2018
There were some tough spots but not constant. The walk from Bilbao starts quite industrial. Some people bus through that section.
I didn’t mean to scare you but wanted to let you know it’s tough.
Thanks for that. I'm not always known for my Common sense but having done the CF from SJ-Santiago-Atlantic in 2016 and from SJ to Burgos in 2019 as I'm getting my fitness back I'm seriously thinking of getting myself to Burgos and starting again from there. Yes this will be going through the Meseta again which is not everyone's favourite section but I think the terrain will suit where I am physically at the moment. Plus I will appreciate more where I am walking through and of course experience the Camino Buzz.
I just want to get back and by being there put something back into the local economy which has suffered so much over the last 2 years. But I know it will be me who will benefit personally from being there.
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
No one is mentioning that slog up the mountain range before Bilbao?!?!?! And then the million plus stone steps down into Bilbao itself? The first week of the Norte is definitely for when you are in walking shape, not as a warm-up. It’s definitely beautiful and the food is wonderful, but it has plenty of mountains, tarmac, undeveloped sections, and stairs.....OMG, stairs....I still see them in my nightmares.....stairs...
 

KRA2018

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances- 2017
Santiago- Finisterre (2018)
I walked from San Sebastián to Bibao in April and while it was incredibly beautiful it was tough! I hadn’t mentally or physically prepared for how much I would hate descents - I always thought going uphill would be worse. My knees really felt it. I wouldn’t do this stretch without walking sticks . All that considered I am so glad I did it - there are enough pilgrims but not so many to feel crowded. I walked in torrential rain which added to the scary descents over cobble stones. The food was amazing and yes - Deba to Markina was very long! But I still made it in time for dinner- and wine
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I know that everyone is trying to be helpful to the OP and others, but what’s difficult for one person is not as difficult for another. The fitness level among forum members is extremely wide ranging. Just a few weeks ago, I had a zoom with a forum member who had been told by other forum members that she was setting herself up for failure if she tried to walk from Irún to San Sebastián on the first day. This freaked her out and had her doubting herself and very worried. Especially since the options in Pasajes are very limited, if any. We talked about her fitness level, the kind of elevation gain she was comfortable with based on her hiking experience, and I told her that it sounded to me like she would be fine. And she was.

All I’m saying is that when we give our opinions and difficultly rankings we have to recognize that it is tremendously idiosyncratic. The best measure of whether a stage or a camino will be difficult for you is to take a look at the elevation profile (Gronze has them for every stage), and to have a good sense of your own fitness level.

So, for the OP, I would say — look at some of the stages you remember as tough on your Camino Francés and compare the elevation profiles with some of those early Norte days. Then factor in the fact that seven years have gone by and whether you have become more or less fit during those years, plus of course the annoying toll that aging takes on us.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
All I’m saying is that when we give our opinions and difficultly rankings we have to recognize that it is tremendously idiosyncratic.
While that is 100% true, I think the OP was looking for personal observations. While stats and guidebooks can give a general idea of conditions, it is not the same as someone saying that, “the stairs and cobblestones into Bilbao are killer on your knees!” We’d all say the hike out of SJPdP is incredibly tough due to the rate of climb, but it’s funny that a similar steep climb into O’Cebreiro is commented upon but not dreaded. Why? Number of days into the Camino, perhaps? Walking with a “Camino family” so one doesn’t notice? Who knows?!?! But I appreciate that folks told me that by then I wouldn’t even notice the climb. And the unforgiving cobblestones of the Portuguese Way don’t show up on elevation maps, but they are truly debilitating for some walkers.

I favor the OP’s approach: read what you can and then compare it to what people think who have recently walked it.
 
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KRA2018

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances- 2017
Santiago- Finisterre (2018)
I know that everyone is trying to be helpful to the OP and others, but what’s difficult for one person is not as difficult for another. The fitness level among forum members is extremely wide ranging. Just a few weeks ago, I had a zoom with a forum member who had been told by other forum members that she was setting herself up for failure if she tried to walk from Irún to San Sebastián on the first day. This freaked her out and had her doubting herself and very worried. Especially since the options in Pasajes are very limited, if any. We talked about her fitness level, the kind of elevation gain she was comfortable with based on her hiking experience, and I told her that it sounded to me like she would be fine. And she was.

All I’m saying is that when we give our opinions and difficultly rankings we have to recognize that it is tremendously idiosyncratic. The best measure of whether a stage or a camino will be difficult for you is to take a look at the elevation profile (Gronze has them for every stage), and to have a good sense of your own fitness level.

So, for the OP, I would say — look at some of the stages you remember as tough on your Camino Francés and compare the elevation profiles with some of those early Norte days. Then factor in the fact that seven years have gone by and whether you have become more or less fit during those years, plus of course the annoying toll that aging takes on us.

Buen camino, Laurie
that is the best advice to the OP. I had not trained over covid - I found it tough but I was very slow and it was fine - the only thing I would have liked to have have researched are the descents - on the Camino Frances there are a few extremes over a few weeks - but first week on the Norte you get them all at once!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I favor the OP’s approach: read what you can and then compare it to what people think who have recently walked it.
I’m not disagreeing with that, and I know this is not a question asking for a scientific answer. But I just talked to someone who got freaked out by similar comments, and was rethinking her whole Norte plan because of it. That just wasn’t helpful, but of course none of the naysayers were trying to be mean or inaccurate. I think it’s helpful for any reader to know if the person giving the opinion is someone who walks 20 km in the mountains every day or someone who hasn’t had much in the way of exercise recently.

I remember way back after I walked my first Primitivo, I had a question on the forum about whether it was extremely difficult. Had I seen a lot of the comments before I had walked, I might not have walked, or at a minimum would have walked with a lot more trepidation. I tried to give my opinion based on something other than just my impressionistic memory, but I understand that that kind of answer is a lot more tedious.


Buen camino, Laurie
 

Suzanne S.

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(2015) Camino Frances/Muxia/Fisterre (2017) Caminho Portuguese/Fisterre
(2019) Camino del Norte
No one is mentioning that slog up the mountain range before Bilbao?!?!?! And then the million plus stone steps down into Bilbao itself? The first week of the Norte is definitely for when you are in walking shape, not as a warm-up. It’s definitely beautiful and the food is wonderful, but it has plenty of mountains, tarmac, undeveloped sections, and stairs.....OMG, stairs....I still see them in my nightmares.....stairs...
Me, too!
 

FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Costa/Senda Litoral
Porto/SdC Sept 2022
HUMIDITY --- oh the humanity, so much humidity. 😅 July 2019 for me from Irun to Santander solo, mid 50's. I echo a lot of comments here when they say it is --- Up into the mountains -- down out to the sea --- sleep, repeat. You've done the Frances you can surely do 7 days on del Norte.

For me San Sabastian to Zarautz, Zarautz was full so I had to make my way additional k's to Getaria where I took a rest day because yes, del Norte is no joke.

Deba to Markina was my most difficult day as I was following someone going the wrong way first thing leaving Deba then I got lost in the mountains because I missed a small arrow on a tree trunk. It took me 12 hours to get to Markina where I took another rest day. Once you pass the last cafe going to Markina it's up, up, up, up, will it ever end? Nope, up and up some more. But it's all doable, just dig deep and see what you're made of.

I felt safe but had my guard up entering Bilbao (for good reason, long story. I’ve posted somewhere on the forum) and a few other places. Just pay attention as you hopefully would in normal life.

Just do it! Go for it! There’s always options if you feel you need to get out which I did. I was completo by the time I made it to Castro Urdiales where I took another rest day and decided to switch, so I planned to take a train from Santander to Fromista going back to the Camino Frances where I finished to Santiago. No judgments on the Camino.

The beauty outweighs the difficulties as it should on a Camino, it is what it is, different, different for each pilgrim. Buen Camino!

A5175F0C-5C7D-40B8-82D7-25F03C25CAEC.jpeg
Out of San Sabastian

53FAE184-44C8-48C6-94DB-BFF35BCE7349.jpeg 8F8369BD-804E-482A-A413-95A65185E1F4.jpeg
On the way to Markina
There is so much more to see...........GO FOR IT!! :)
 
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Dilbin

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Irun to Santander del Norte
Hi Rachel, so what would you say about the terrain for say a couple of weeks beyond Bilbao? I know I'm not up to it yet if its as tough as the first week from Irun.
Hi. I'm aware I wasn't asked so apologies in advance if my experience is not wanted or needed
It has been 7 years since I walked the Camino Frances with my son... I am looking at a short 7 day walk from San Sebastian to Bilbao this September to fit in with other travel plans. I will be walking on my own this time (😢) and a little apprehensive. I know one is "never alone on the Camino"... however it would appear much fewer people walk this route? Looking for reassurance that I will be ok (and safe?) from other solo female walkers. Also, I see this particular section of Camino Del Norte is the toughest (first week) ... how challenging is it? Does it compare with any sections of the Camino Frances route so I know what to expect? thanks. jo
Hi. My only suggestion would be to begin in Irun and you will experience the enthusiasm and excitement of an abundance of fellow Pilgrims if you stay at the Municipal Albergue. I'm not fit by any means and unfortunately a smoker. My own experience and memory of that first week to Bilbao was of friendship, beautiful scenery and one particular stage which took a bit more energy than the rest. I can only share how I found those first 5 stages and as mentioned everybody's fitness levels differ. Hopefully whichever route or stages you undertake will bring you happiness. "The road less travelled, but equally worn". Daniel
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
I know that everyone is trying to be helpful to the OP and others, but what’s difficult for one person is not as difficult for another. The fitness level among forum members is extremely wide ranging. Just a few weeks ago, I had a zoom with a forum member who had been told by other forum members that she was setting herself up for failure if she tried to walk from Irún to San Sebastián on the first day. This freaked her out and had her doubting herself and very worried. Especially since the options in Pasajes are very limited, if any. We talked about her fitness level, the kind of elevation gain she was comfortable with based on her hiking experience, and I told her that it sounded to me like she would be fine. And she was.

All I’m saying is that when we give our opinions and difficultly rankings we have to recognize that it is tremendously idiosyncratic. The best measure of whether a stage or a camino will be difficult for you is to take a look at the elevation profile (Gronze has them for every stage), and to have a good sense of your own fitness level.

So, for the OP, I would say — look at some of the stages you remember as tough on your Camino Francés and compare the elevation profiles with some of those early Norte days. Then factor in the fact that seven years have gone by and whether you have become more or less fit during those years, plus of course the annoying toll that aging takes on us.

Buen camino, Laurie
When I walked the Norte it was very tough for me but oh so rewarding. What you said is without a doubt the most important factor, what is the age, fitness level and experience of the person asking the question. I will never forget the loosely knit group of about 10 young people from Germany, Eastern Europe and Ireland who welcomed me into their arms. I almost always saw one or two of them as I was walking up a steep hill. From the top they would shout inspirational words of encouragement to me. Do you need a wheelchair old man. You can do it, don't embarrass me. Or their all time favorite, you better make it up the hill we don't want to have to call Silvia (my wife) and tell her you keeled over and should we just push him over a cliff into the ocean or do you want us to ship the body home. That got shortened to we don't want to have to call Silvia!!!! They used to beg me to call my wife before we prepared or went to dinner so they could hear her yell at me because I looked tired and (as I mentioned before saying) If you drop dead don't come home because I will kill you. Then scream at me in Spanish for a few minutes. Fiery Mexican wife! They loved it.
Such beautiful words.I really miss those kids. I truly love them all!!!!!
 
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fulhamsam

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2017)
Planning Camino Del Norte
It has been 7 years since I walked the Camino Frances with my son... I am looking at a short 7 day walk from San Sebastian to Bilbao this September to fit in with other travel plans. I will be walking on my own this time (😢) and a little apprehensive. I know one is "never alone on the Camino"... however it would appear much fewer people walk this route? Looking for reassurance that I will be ok (and safe?) from other solo female walkers. Also, I see this particular section of Camino Del Norte is the toughest (first week) ... how challenging is it? Does it compare with any sections of the Camino Frances route so I know what to expect? thanks. jo
I just walked from irun to loredo. I'm a male in my 30s who runs marathons, I'm not gonna lie I was surprised by how tough a hike it is. There are some very sharp and long inclines. But I see no reason why with breaks (and a light pack) most people couldn't do it. The pay off is amazing scenery! In terms of companionship there's definitely less than Frances but there'll still be a be a solid group camigos in the albergues, I met lots of solo female pilgrims. Enjoy!
 
F

Former member 95219

Guest
I know that everyone is trying to be helpful to the OP and others, but what’s difficult for one person is not as difficult for another. The fitness level among forum members is extremely wide ranging. Just a few weeks ago, I had a zoom with a forum member who had been told by other forum members that she was setting herself up for failure if she tried to walk from Irún to San Sebastián on the first day. This freaked her out and had her doubting herself and very worried. Especially since the options in Pasajes are very limited, if any. We talked about her fitness level, the kind of elevation gain she was comfortable with based on her hiking experience, and I told her that it sounded to me like she would be fine. And she was.

All I’m saying is that when we give our opinions and difficultly rankings we have to recognize that it is tremendously idiosyncratic. The best measure of whether a stage or a camino will be difficult for you is to take a look at the elevation profile (Gronze has them for every stage), and to have a good sense of your own fitness level.

So, for the OP, I would say — look at some of the stages you remember as tough on your Camino Francés and compare the elevation profiles with some of those early Norte days. Then factor in the fact that seven years have gone by and whether you have become more or less fit during those years, plus of course the annoying toll that aging takes on us.

Buen camino, Laurie
Great post! I am 56, of average fitness, slow but decent stamina! Reading the forum before I did the Frances in 2020 I virtually got the feeling I was climbing Everest! In the end it was a breeze as was the first week of the Norte! I have terrible knees too! Most people around me were quicker than me and fitter! Of course many people will find it tough, and that’s fine and useful to hear, especially as the forum has an older demographic than the Caminos walkers!!

I sense peoples’ understandable love of the Camino, and desire to discuss every aspect, sometimes means it is built into something far more mystical than it is for most… I.e a long relative straight forward walk in nice pleasant surroundings!
 
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F

Former member 95219

Guest
Great post! I am 56, of average fitness, slow but decent stamina! Reading the forum before I did the Frances in 2020 I virtually got the feeling I was climbing Everest! In the end it was a breeze as was the first week of the Norte! I have terrible knees too! Most people around me were quicker than me and fitter! Of course many people will find it tough, and that’s fine and useful to hear, especially as the forum has an older demographic than the Caminos walkers!!

I sense peoples’ understandable love of the Camino, and desire to discuss every aspect, sometimes means it is built into something far more mystical than it is for most… I.e a long relative straight forward walk in nice pleasant surroundings!
If you are looking to ease the first day of the Norte (and save yourself some money possibly), one thought is to book two nights in San Sebastien (night before and night of walk), leave your bag there, get an early bus to Irun/Hendaye, and walk with just your your water.

I wasn’t aware of this when I did Norte last year and found carrying a pack tricky as I have poor upper body strength! I missed the ‘turn’ for the upper route, and didn’t realise until too late and was committed to doing the lower route. I suffer from bad FOMO so not doing the upper route didn’t sit well with me so when I reached Bilbao a few days later, I caught the bus back to San Sebastien, booked a place for two nights , caught early bus to Irun/Hendaye and walked without pack back to San Sebastien and stayed back at same hostel.
 
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Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Past OR future Camino
April 2013, September 2013, April 2014, April 2015
If you are looking to ease the first day of the Norte (and save yourself some money possibly), one thought is to book two nights in San Sebastien (night before and night of walk), leave your bag there, get an early bus to Irun/Hendaye, and walk with just your your water.

I wasn’t aware of this when I did Norte last year and found carrying a pack tricky as I have poor upper body strength! I missed the ‘turn’ for the upper route, and didn’t realise until too late and was committed to doing the lower route. I suffer from bad FOMO so not doing the upper route didn’t sit well with me so when I reached Bilbao a few days later, I caught the bus back to San Sebastien, booked a place for two nights , caught early bus to Irun/Hendaye and walked without pack back to San Sebastien and stayed back at same hostel.
Great advice Cheff 66, thanks... I have actually decided to walk with a friend in September who is doing Portuguese... but this is on the back burner for next year possibly... I am filing this away. Thanks so much for your advice, Jo
 
F

Former member 95219

Guest
Great advice Cheff 66, thanks... I have actually decided to walk with a friend in September who is doing Portuguese... but this is on the back burner for next year possibly... I am filing this away. Thanks so much for your advice, Jo
You are most Welcome Jo and best wishes.I am pretty sure some else would have tipped me off about this as it’s too smart for me but I can’t remember who to credit it really helped and saved me money! Walking the high route with a small bag for water alongside all the people carrying big packs made me feel very smart and that doesn’t often happen! I have very poor upper body strength so it was important!
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte starting Sept 5, 2022
Hello I am a 62 year old Canadian "used to be" climber who really appreciates all the comments and advice. I have been reading many comments about how difficult the first week of del Norte is and I am starting early September. I am moderately fit but I wore out my right knee from all my mountaineering so have a replacement which is working well. I will happily report how it goes once I am there. I think my pack will only weight about 15 lbs. and I have lost 20 pounds and it was the real inspiration for me to lose weight. Buen Camino everyone!
 
F

Former member 95219

Guest
Hello I am a 62 year old Canadian "used to be" climber who really appreciates all the comments and advice. I have been reading many comments about how difficult the first week of del Norte is and I am starting early September. I am moderately fit but I wore out my right knee from all my mountaineering so have a replacement which is working well. I will happily report how it goes once I am there. I think my pack will only weight about 15 lbs. and I have lost 20 pounds and it was the real inspiration for me to lose weight. Buen Camino everyone!
Good luck. Yes I think knee problems abound for many on here. I have had lots of knee issues from a young.l age. Like many with bad knees I ‘prefer ’ ascents to descents.. yes it’s tough but I feel more at ease. I found Norte ok to be honest and not quite as tough as many people have said but of course that is down to individual feelings. Well done on the weight loss. I need to ‘shift a bit of timber’ too and it definitely gets tougher as you get older! !
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte starting Sept 5, 2022
Good luck. Yes I think knee problems abound for many on here. I have had lots of knee issues from a young.l age. Like many with bad knees I ‘prefer ’ ascents to descents.. yes it’s tough but I feel more at ease. I found Norte ok to be honest and not quite as tough as many people have said but of course that is down to individual feelings. Well done on the weight loss. I need to ‘shift a bit of timber’ too and it definitely gets tougher as you get older! !
Thanks for that.. it helps to know there are several others out there with bad knees and not that everyone is 40 and super fit... Yes our metabolisms sure slow down as we age so it is more challenging to lose weight, but have to say I feel so much better now!!!. I have been doing the fasting approach and love it! And I have tape for my replaced knee in case I need it and a knee brace for my left knee since it is not longer in perfect shape either! And if I am having a bad day I will rest or take the bus that day (until the last 100 km that is...). I have 6 weeks for the walk. I am good with pacing also and that has helped me for many years... walk.. breathe in... walk... breathe out.. repeat, a good mantra..
 
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
F

Former member 95219

Guest
Thanks for that.. it helps to know there are several others out there with bad knees and not that everyone is 40 and super fit... Yes our metabolisms sure slow down as we age so it is more challenging to lose weight, but have to say I feel so much better now!!!. I have been doing the fasting approach and love it! And I have tape for my replaced knee in case I need it and a knee brace for my left knee since it is not longer in perfect shape either! And if I am having a bad day I will rest or take the bus that day (until the last 100 km that is...). I have 6 weeks for the walk. I am good with pacing also and that has helped me for many years... walk.. breathe in... walk... breathe out.. repeat, a good mantra..
6 weeks is a good old chunk of time. Think I did 30
Days! I’m painfully slow but have this inbuilt stamina that I find quite bizarre And can just carry on! I tend to arrive a lot later than everybody else at about 1-2km at hour! Also there were lots of rumours of of lockdowns so wanted to finish ASAP! Time used to matter as I only had limited time but then next one time won’t be an issue so I will be doing shorter day!
 

Dilbin

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Irun to Santander del Norte
Good luck. Yes I think knee problems abound for many on here. I have had lots of knee issues from a young.l age. Like many with bad knees I ‘prefer ’ ascents to descents.. yes it’s tough but I feel more at ease. I found Norte ok to be honest and not quite as tough as many people have said but of course that is down to individual feelings. Well done on the weight loss. I need to ‘shift a bit of timber’ too and it definitely gets tougher as you get older! !
Hello. I'm reading all the suggestions on this page and find it very interesting. The clear picture that is coming across is to remember everyone is different. Yes on the Norte there is a lot of ups and down and day 3 or day 4 was the only tough day I can remember. The walk out of Guernica was also quite tough but I had already a days walking done at that point when I decided to walk further to a wonderful family run Albergue about 5kms out. Previously on one camino I had a very bad day with my right knee on a 6km decent. Since then whenever I know I'm going I book a session for my knees with a great Accupunctrist in my home town. Her advice is always( if possible) to zig zig on descents. This appears to be working so far and I'll need it in August as I'm doing the San Salvador . If only I can quit my nicotine intake in the meantime. Thank you for your kindness to those in need of advice. Daniel
 

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