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How well is The Norte marked?

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Jbirk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, SJPP to Finesterre April (2018)
Via Francigena Italy Sept (2018)
Del Norte Aug (2019)
My wife and I are starting in Irún in mid August this year and I was wondering how well the path is marked. We have done the CF which is hard to get lost. We also did 1/2 of the Via Francegina and had to use GPS a couple of time to stay on course.
I would rather not turn on the phone this time around.
Thanks in advance
 
Camino(s) past & future
The French Way (2016), Portuguese Camino (2018),
I got hopelessly lost and it took me 2 days to get to Passia. It was early may last year and there were no other walkers to be seen. I am not sure why I got so lost, I agree the French Way is comfortably marked. I have no suggestions and await others' reponses
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
We did part of the norte from Irun to Santander last month. All of my research was filled with "the route is well marked". Well that was not our experience. Most days we encountered places where the arrows peterred out, and more than a few where you were confronted with arrows pointing different directions.

Because the route is between the mountains and the sea, you can't go really wrong, and there are so many roads that are well marked to help you get reoriented, it never became a serious issue. Nevertheless, I used Google maps pretty much every day to keep us on track. I suggest that you have access to a GPS, or study the route map very carefully each night.

As a final comment, there are lots of choices on the Norte. My impression is that it would almost be possible to get from stage to stage without ever being on the official route.

Buen Camino
 

andycohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2012,13,15); Finisterre / Muxia (15); Portugeuse (17); Primitivo (17); Norte (18); Ingles (18)
In fact, the Norte is well-marked throughout its entire length, The difficulty arises because there are many alternative routes that have developed, often to get you off the pavement and closer to the sea, especially where the Norte runs near the coast. These alternatives are less well-marked, and I suspect that was Brian’s problem, above. If you want to avoid using your phone, the Wise Pilgrim printed guide does show the alternatives. But frankly, I’d have some kind of gps backup, as Rick M suggests. The Wise Pilgrim app has a gps. map that you can use on your phone without data. A maps-only version of the Wise Pilgrim guide, Wisely: Camino Forum Places, is available for free on this forum.
 
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bobbogram

Member
Camino(s) past & future
El Norte San Sebastián to Santiago; Portuguese Lisbon to Porto; Porto to Santiago; Geneva west
Maybe because it was my first Camino, but I enjoyed it the most so far. It isn’t Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road, but it’s close. Markings embedded in the sidewalks, on the back of road signs, and on service poles are easier to see than the ones low on a wall, covered by underbrush. But El Norte is conveniently located between the mountains and the sea, so temporary confusion solves itself heading West.
“Not all who wander are lost.”D1F5BC16-EA72-4D43-8177-ACE31A583A46.jpegFE24FC7B-F25E-411F-9A8E-AD5AF4EBBF16.jpeg
 

Pam Scott

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago compostella 2015
It's certainly not as well marked as the CF and you will need to look out for signs, but I found it manageable.
 

Phil71

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2014,2016),Primitivo (2015), San Salvador (2017), Norte (2018), Ingles (2018)
I went wrong twice. But it was one of those when you kind of know you're wrong anyway. I think I pay less attention now I have gps backup. Lazy pilgrim. Shame on me!
 
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Jan Jones

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April/May 2018
I would have done some pretty uncomfortable extra kms up and down hills without using the downloaded maps from Wise Pilgrim and Buen Camino apps whilst keeping my phone on airplane mode. Yes the arrows are there but if you are walking alone head bent trudging up a hill the little side path can be easy to miss even though marked, Funny how you get a sense of going wrong though, that’s when you stop and check that precious blue gps dot.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
I walked the Norte in July 2017 without a guidebook, GPS or maps and didn't find it difficult to follow. Like other people have said, the problems start with the enormous amount of alternatives along the way. It is a pity that the original Camino del Norte has quite a lot of totally unnecessary asphalt. Especially because the coastal alternatives are stunning.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
I concur with @Luka and found the signage excellent. Have never used a guide, GPS or app while walking. What I do do is screenshot the maps found on www.gronze.com so as to give me info about distances between towns and more importantly to know when my next café con leche stop will be ;)

There are indeed many coastal alternatives but if you see E9 take it! And don't worry, you never stay far from the Camino and are awarded spectacular views!
 

AngieOttawa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - Leon to Santiago (October2017)
Portuguese de la Costa - Tomar to Finisterre (May 2018
I am on the Camino Norte right now (i think today is day 12?!? I’ve lost count) and without a gps - i have had a few problems here and there but overall ok. The alternative routes aren’t always marked but if the ocean is on your right and the sun is behind you - you’re okay! :)

You will do just fine.
 

Redvespablur

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo April/May 2016
Voie Littorale May 2020
It was our first Camino in 2016 so no comparables. Seemed well marked had Buen Camino as backup with downloaded map.

Once missed a turn and had to backtrack a bit but if I recall we were distracted that day and perhaps not poor markings.
 

Dandabika

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Completed GR65 (2016)
I walked the Norte and Primitivo in 2017. Both are well marked but there are some stretches that were iffy. You have to pay attention all the time, without exception, in other words, hawkeyes. Sometimes the yellow arrow was painted on the edge of curbsides and the road dirt would make them difficult to spot. Other times, especially at any of the beach side cities or towns, the yellow arrow was covered with some sand when it was on sidewalks, and when posted on surfaces where the sea air was especially corrosive they were hard to spot. If you haven't seen one after a couple of hours, backtrack or use your phone GPS if you think you can take a shortcut to get back on the trail. Carry a small battery pack that will re juice your phone at least twice and you'll be fine. I got lost a couple of times but didn't panic because I did exactly what I just suggested and everything worked out fine. Carry a little extra food for those few hours you'll spend getting back on track. Getting lost makes the journey a bit more adventurous.
My wife and I are starting in Irún in mid August this year and I was wondering how well the path is marked. We have done the CF which is hard to get lost. We also did 1/2 of the Via Francegina and had to use GPS a couple of time to stay on course.
I would rather not turn on the phone this time around.
Thanks in advance
 
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sp01326

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French (2013, 2015), English ('14), Primitivo ('15) , Portuguese ('16), Norte ('18). Next: French.
My wife and I are starting in Irún in mid August this year and I was wondering how well the path is marked. We have done the CF which is hard to get lost. We also did 1/2 of the Via Francegina an.d had to use GPS a couple of time to stay on course.
I would rather not turn on the phone this time around.
Thanks in advance
I walked The Norte the last year. I didn't appreciated it just because of the lack of a definite way. So, a lot of days, the pilgrims were walking along different ways to reach the step destination. Norte way is different from French and Primitivo (more touristic, in my personal experience).
 

Jim Michie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
Norte 2016
Walked the Norte in 2016. It very well marked. Being a bit, ok a lot, oldschool, I walk with just a guide book, no GPS.or smartphone. The cities are always a problem not so well marked, (Frances is the same) my solution was to visit the tourist office.and they are more than happy to map out the route out of town (to me the hardest part).
Another approach is to stand on somewhat busy corner, open your guide book or map an look lost, some will approach you and offer instructions within minutes. To me this is the attraction of tha Caminos, the Spanish are a welcoming and hospitable people and make one feel honored to be there.
There are a few places where the markers are a bit far apart. Personally, this brings on a case of paranoia (again no GPS)"did I miss a turn, ..." but it always.worked out.
Hope you have a good wall
Jim Michie
 

VeganCamino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future Frances from Saint Jean Pied du Port to Burgos, starting in June.
I walked the Norte in July 2017 without a guidebook, GPS or maps and didn't find it difficult to follow. Like other people have said, the problems start with the enormous amount of alternatives along the way. It is a pity that the original Camino del Norte has quite a lot of totally unnecessary asphalt. Especially because the coastal alternatives are stunning.
Any favorite stretch of road;
 
Camino(s) past & future
this will be my first. Norte September 2018.
My wife and I are starting in Irún in mid August this year and I was wondering how well the path is marked. We have done the CF which is hard to get lost. We also did 1/2 of the Via Francegina and had to use GPS a couple of time to stay on course.
I would rather not turn on the phone this time around.
Thanks in advance
I found it primarily well marked August 2018. Went as far as Oviedo on the Norte. Lost Twice very briefly on the Primitivo.
 
Camino(s) past & future
this will be my first. Norte September 2018.
For me it was the first time so it was all marvelous. If I had to choose a portion I would say the coast around llanes, Comillas, Santillana Del Mar. a slightly alternate route goes right along the ocean edge there and there are some interesting features. Also San Juan Pasajes was a lovely place to stay in an old church.
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
My wife and I are starting in Irún in mid August this year and I was wondering how well the path is marked. We have done the CF which is hard to get lost. We also did 1/2 of the Via Francegina and had to use GPS a couple of time to stay on course.
I would rather not turn on the phone this time around.
Thanks in advance
The route is not consistently marked; I wouldn't rely on trail markers to navigate. Use your phone with a map app and KML of the trail. It will work with the phone in airplane mode (and no wifi or cell), which uses very little power. I had no problem navigating the Norte to Primitivo to Santiago.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
I found some cities didnot have yellow arrows, but blue arrows on street/lamposts
 

drawstring

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese coastal 2016
Cities were sometimes a bit vague. I found Cantabria not as well marked as the rest. Basque region was very good. That said, I had maps.me with the track open for times of confusion.
 

Cary

Member
Camino(s) past & future
del Norte/Primitivo May 2019
The route is not consistently marked; I wouldn't rely on trail markers to navigate. Use your phone with a map app and KML of the trail. It will work with the phone in airplane mode (and no wifi or cell), which uses very little power. I had no problem navigating the Norte to Primitivo to Santiago.
It helps to download the maps for the route you are doing. This can be done on the wise pilgrim app Camino Places.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
It helps to download the maps for the route you are doing. This can be done on the wise pilgrim app Camino Places.
...Along with a back up plan copy of a guide book as well
 

FourSeasons

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
del Norte (July/August 2019)
My wife and I are starting in Irún in mid August this year and I was wondering how well the path is marked. We have done the CF which is hard to get lost. We also did 1/2 of the Via Francegina and had to use GPS a couple of time to stay on course.
I would rather not turn on the phone this time around.
Thanks in advance
Unfortunately my hard copy of del Norte guide book was left behind. Fortunately I have the Wisely Camino Places app. I’m on del Norte now and it is tough. Having done the Frances, I wish I was on the Frances now. Don’t get me wrong, del Norte is beautiful but long stages. Grueling mountain after mountain after mountain. A lot of road walking. And sometimes marking is not so good. I heavenly rely on the Wise Pilgrim app making sure my blue dot is on the Camino. There have been times I was off. I am walking solo, there are some places I’ve kept my senses on high alert. Never experienced that on the Frances. There are no stops for cafe con leche not after two hours or four hours or six hours. This is a no joke, hard Camino. Now without my hard cover guide I find it so difficult to know where I can stop, cut the stages shorter if possible. Good luck and Buen Camino. 😎👣
 

Lunchmeat337

Submariner
Camino(s) past & future
2015, Camino Frances, May
2017, Camino Frances, May
2018, Camino Portuguese, May
Keep your head up and watch for marks. We just finished the Norte last month and found the marks adequate, however, I agree that it's much harder than the Francis, and not as much fun. Burn Camino.
 

Jbirk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, SJPP to Finesterre April (2018)
Via Francigena Italy Sept (2018)
Del Norte Aug (2019)
Unfortunately my hard copy of del Norte guide book was left behind. Fortunately I have the Wisely Camino Places app. I’m on del Norte now and it is tough. Having done the Frances, I wish I was on the Frances now. Don’t get me wrong, del Norte is beautiful but long stages. Grueling mountain after mountain after mountain. A lot of road walking. And sometimes marking is not so good. I heavenly rely on the Wise Pilgrim app making sure my blue dot is on the Camino. There have been times I was off. I am walking solo, there are some places I’ve kept my senses on high alert. Never experienced that on the Frances. There are no stops for cafe con leche not after two hours or four hours or six hours. This is a no joke, hard Camino. Now without my hard cover guide I find it so difficult to know where I can stop, cut the stages shorter if possible. Good luck and Buen Camino. 😎👣
Thank you for your insight. It sounds a lot like the Via Francegina.
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
My wife and I are starting in Irún in mid August this year and I was wondering how well the path is marked. We have done the CF which is hard to get lost. We also did 1/2 of the Via Francegina and had to use GPS a couple of time to stay on course.
I would rather not turn on the phone this time around.
Thanks in advance
In some places, it's well-marked. In others, forget it. I used my phone GPS-and downloaded KMLs-often to stay on course.
 
Camino(s) past & future
this will be my first. Norte September 2018.
Unfortunately my hard copy of del Norte guide book was left behind. Fortunately I have the Wisely Camino Places app. I’m on del Norte now and it is tough. Having done the Frances, I wish I was on the Frances now. Don’t get me wrong, del Norte is beautiful but long stages. Grueling mountain after mountain after mountain. A lot of road walking. And sometimes marking is not so good. I heavenly rely on the Wise Pilgrim app making sure my blue dot is on the Camino. There have been times I was off. I am walking solo, there are some places I’ve kept my senses on high alert. Never experienced that on the Frances. There are no stops for cafe con leche not after two hours or four hours or six hours. This is a no joke, hard Camino. Now without my hard cover guide I find it so difficult to know where I can stop, cut the stages shorter if possible. Good luck and Buen Camino. 😎👣
I just didn’t find it that hard stage wise. I found plenty of coffee stops. And yes it was mountain after mountain, stunning view after stunning view, but that is why I chose that particular route! 😁
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I walked the Norte from May 1st, with my 50 day Camino ending in June.

It's very well waymarked, and I don't think it should pose any problem at all, I'm actually a little suprised that there are a few people commenting on the waymarking being difficult in places. That certainly wasn't my experience just over a month ago.

In one or two stages, there are interesting alternative paths. The hospitalero gave advice on some of these.

The worst case of getting lost, was when I did use an app, and the Camino Places app took me off a recognised path and onto a more challenging one.

Out on the open road, the waymarking is excellent. A little harder to follow in the cities of course, and that is perhaps the only time it might be worth using an app for IMHO
 

Zunigandi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Doing Camino Norte this July - August (2019)- first time
I walked the Norte in July 2017 without a guidebook, GPS or maps and didn't find it difficult to follow. Like other people have said, the problems start with the enormous amount of alternatives along the way. It is a pity that the original Camino del Norte has quite a lot of totally unnecessary asphalt. Especially because the coastal alternatives are stunning.

Luka- are the coastal routes always high-risk cliff areas?!?
 

Zunigandi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Doing Camino Norte this July - August (2019)- first time
No, the only high-risk cliff area I know of is the one on the way to Laredo. It's not an official Camino route, and it doesn't show on my Buen Camino app.
Thanks so much- I read some scary things here and was thinking oh no... *not the best with heights*
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
And you really have to search out that particular path. I was with a group of 6 who attempted it, and despite having instructions from this forum, we had a hard time finding it. Two of us turned back, and walked the safer way, and the four that did make the "riskier" way came back scratched up from bushes that they had to walk through on their way to find the trail.
 

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