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I need short notice help to decide on Norte or Frances Nov/Dec 2019?

Bernardo77

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Considering Norte (2019 November/December)
Hi all!

Not sure if I should do the Norte from 31 Oct - 7 Dec or Frances for the first one? Got the gift of time very recently but the timeslot is just after season with many closed albergues and uncertain weather.

41 yr old male of ave fitness, hiking 5-10 km sections regularly, I am big at 105 kg / 231 pounds and 185cm/6.1ft. My pack weight is around 7.2kg. I want to keep it lighter than 10% as I have a fusion of the L5/S1 vertebrae from a sports injury.
- I don’t speak Spanish but am learning some phrases.
- looking to enjoy myself and do it at my own pace
- want some solitude but don’t want isolation for 5 weeks for safety and social reasons
I arrive in San Sebastian airport at 10:30 am on 31 Oct

I am so unsure and was hoping the wisdom of more experienced pilgrims could give me some idea?

Buen Camino
 
Last edited:

Bernardo77

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Considering Norte (2019 November/December)
Hi all!

Not sure if I should do the Norte from 31 Oct - 7 Dec or Frances for the first one? Got the gift of time very recently but the timeslot is just after season with many closed albergues and uncertain weather.

41 yr old male of ave fitness, hiking 5-10 km sections regularly, I am big at 105 kg / 231 pounds and 185cm/6.1ft. My pack weight is around 7.2kg. I want to keep it lighter than 10% as I have a fusion of the L5/S1 vertebrae from a sports injury.
- I don’t speak Spanish but am learning some phrases.
- looking to enjoy myself and do it at my own pace
- want some solitude but don’t want isolation for 5 weeks for safety and social reasons
I arrive in San Sebastian airport at 10:30 am on 31 Oct

I am so unsure and was hoping the wisdom of more experienced pilgrims could give me some idea?

Buen Camino
My biggest worry in doing the Norte is having to deal with heavy rain predicted between Irun and Orio from 1-3 November, is it safe to walk the way in rain for this section?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (July 2016), Primitivo (July 2018), Portuguese (March 2019)
The Frances. There are more pilgrims, better infrastructure and probably a gentler introduction to the Camino experience. The Norte is likely to feel quite lonely at this time of year, possibly wetter though very beautiful on the coastal stretches. Apart from the first day from St. Jean to Roncevalles, the Frances is a less strenuous Camino and you’ll definitely find walking companions if you need them.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Chances are for major storms blowing in off the Bay of Biscay that time of year. Wind, snow, sleet and wet.slippery trails, I'd chose CF myself.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Agree the CF! More infrastructure.. places to stay, places to eat at, easier to break up stages if need be. Do check ahead,however, as you do the route. Many albergues are closed by mid November. Have a safe journey!
 

MichaelF4

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese Coastal 2017
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Frances, Camino Invierno 2019
I would also agree the CF would be the better choice. And for your first time I would also encourage you to stay at Orrisson to make crossing the Pyrenees a little easier especially if the weather isn't great.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Orisson will no doubt be closed by then.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I vote for the Frances (but haven't walked the Norte) - I have walked twice from SJPP in late October and found it to be an excellent time to walk. Be prepared for all types of weather, and don't arrive in a between-stage village expecting the only lodging to be open. Other than that, you should not have trouble with accommodation. The pilgrim network will know what is open and what is not.

From San Sebastian, you can easily get by train to Bayonne, if you want to go to SJPP to start. On Oct 31, the Napoleon might be open, but it might not (I think the official mandatory closure is Oct 31), in which case you would have to take the route through Valcarlos, which is fine. Alternatively, you might make your way by transport to start in Roncesvalles, or even in Pamplona.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I would also encourage you to stay at Orisson to make crossing the Pyrenees a little easier especially if the weather isn't great.
Please note that @Bernardo77 intends to walk during 31 Oct - 7 Dec and that he will arrive in San Sebastian airport at 10:30 am on 31 October. Orisson is already closed. Walking the Camino Frances trail via Orisson to Roncesvalles ("Route Napoleon") is prohibited by Spanish law during the coming months of November, December, January, February, March. The whole time from beginning to end and when the weather is great and when it isn't. So that option is out. The only option is the Camino Frances trail via Valcarlos.

No.jpg
 
Last edited:

Bernardo77

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Considering Norte (2019 November/December)
Firstly I would like to thank each and everyone for your insightful answers and feedback. It is amazing how passionate contributors to this forum are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Discussing this question with good friends last night they all agree that I will be better suited to the more social Frances and that I would beed to arrange another Camino to do the Norte, with all of them joining in support!

So I have decided based on the very consistent feedback that I will do the Frances. Have booked my transport to SJPP where I will follow the Valcarlos route starting on the 1st of Nov splitting the first stage by overnighting there for a “softer landing” and start to build up from there.

Buen Camino and hope to see some of you out there!
 

cb bikes

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Bicycled Camino Santiago & Camino del Norte
Hi all!

Not sure if I should do the Norte from 31 Oct - 7 Dec or Frances for the first one? Got the gift of time very recently but the timeslot is just after season with many closed albergues and uncertain weather.

41 yr old male of ave fitness, hiking 5-10 km sections regularly, I am big at 105 kg / 231 pounds and 185cm/6.1ft. My pack weight is around 7.2kg. I want to keep it lighter than 10% as I have a fusion of the L5/S1 vertebrae from a sports injury.
- I don’t speak Spanish but am learning some phrases.
- looking to enjoy myself and do it at my own pace
- want some solitude but don’t want isolation for 5 weeks for safety and social reasons
I arrive in San Sebastian airport at 10:30 am on 31 Oct

I am so unsure and was hoping the wisdom of more experienced pilgrims could give me some idea?

Buen Camino
I loved the Camino Norte. You will have short daylight days. Many pilgrims use headlamps and depart daily in the dark. My only warning is the rains we are experiencing. No matter how good your rain gear is, be prepared to get wet,,, so wear merino wool. If you stop in the rain, you could get cold and hyperthermia. So be prepared to carry emergency food and the higher mountains passes could get snow. Other than that, enjoy your campaign,,, CB Bikes
 

cb bikes

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Bicycled Camino Santiago & Camino del Norte
I loved the Camino Norte. You will have short daylight days. Many pilgrims use headlamps and depart daily in the dark. My only warning is the rains we are experiencing. No matter how good your rain gear is, be prepared to get wet,,, so wear merino wool. If you stop in the rain, you could get cold and hyperthermia. So be prepared to carry emergency food and the higher mountains passes could get snow. Other than that, enjoy your campaign,,, CB Bikes
Whoops,,, enjoy your Camino
 

Bernardo77

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Considering Norte (2019 November/December)
I loved the Camino Norte. You will have short daylight days. Many pilgrims use headlamps and depart daily in the dark. My only warning is the rains we are experiencing. No matter how good your rain gear is, be prepared to get wet,,, so wear merino wool. If you stop in the rain, you could get cold and hyperthermia. So be prepared to carry emergency food and the higher mountains passes could get snow. Other than that, enjoy your campaign,,, CB Bikes
Thanks for this supportive view of the Norte which highlights some clear risks on this route, message I take is its doable but be prepared. A follow up question if I may regardless of the route: Poncho or good rain jacket, pants and lined and covered backpack?
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
Hi all!

Not sure if I should do the Norte from 31 Oct - 7 Dec or Frances for the first one? Got the gift of time very recently but the timeslot is just after season with many closed albergues and uncertain weather.

41 yr old male of ave fitness, hiking 5-10 km sections regularly, I am big at 105 kg / 231 pounds and 185cm/6.1ft. My pack weight is around 7.2kg. I want to keep it lighter than 10% as I have a fusion of the L5/S1 vertebrae from a sports injury.
- I don’t speak Spanish but am learning some phrases.
- looking to enjoy myself and do it at my own pace
- want some solitude but don’t want isolation for 5 weeks for safety and social reasons
I arrive in San Sebastian airport at 10:30 am on 31 Oct

I am so unsure and was hoping the wisdom of more experienced pilgrims could give me some idea?

Buen Camino
My husband has done the F twice and the Portuguese once. He did the Norte in May/June of '19. He found it more difficult: more rain, fewer accommodations, fewer pilgrims, harder tertian, etc.
 

AndrewDavOz

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
Thanks for this supportive view of the Norte which highlights some clear risks on this route, message I take is its doable but be prepared. A follow up question if I may regardless of the route: Poncho or good rain jacket, pants and lined and covered backpack?
Some prefer ponchos as they allow more freedom of movement and there is the option of using them to cover the pack as well as the body. I used a poncho while I walked but to be honest I never found a way to put the poncho on by myself, it got caught on my pack and while I had a few ideas of how to get around that, I didn’t make it work. So I put a cover on my pack and put that on over the poncho.
Hope that helps.
Andrew
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
I'd steer clear of the Norte during this time of year
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I wear a long Altus raincoat with pack cover included - can be bought in SJPDP. Not elegant, but can be hung off the back of the pack and pulled on and off as needed (unlike a poncho). It opens down the front and has proper sleeves. They come in red and blue - this is an old one!

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