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Just Back: Camino Vadiniense ("Picos")

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#1
Yesterday, St. James Day, I finished hiking the Camino Vadiniense, a rarely-used pilgrim trail that begins in the mountain fastness of the Picos de Europa national park in Canatabria, and follows the beautiful Rio Esla down across the plain to join the Camino Frances in Mansilla de las Mulas. I walked with my faithful hiking companion Kathy; the entire thing took a full week.
It begins at an ancient Christian shrine, the monastery of the Holy Cross of Liebana (we got to touch the relic, even!). It winds up along "La Ruta de los Monasterios," a lineup of thousand-year-old holy places that dot the landscape along the Esla. We heard Cistercians sing the hours, we ate fresh cheese, we climbed over really really huge mountains and along paths still paved with Roman stones. Of the seven nights we stayed on the road, three were in pilgrim albergues .. there ARE some arrows and some infrastructure, even a dedicated Amigos group that´s written a Spanish guide to the Way!

This is the most beautiful camino I have ever walked. It is a nature-lover´s delight.
It is also the most physically demanding and exhausting.

I am writing up a guide in English for the UK Confraternity group to offer on their website. Other pilgrims who have done the Vadiniense, please let me know and share your experiences. This is one for the ages... and for the very fit and energetic!
 

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Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
#3
Having driven up to Potes with Reb and Kathy, I let them go with some reluctance. II wanted to walk with them. It was all so stunning, that scenery: so beautiful. So challenging. I believe the words "Lucky buggers" were the last they heard of me as they headed down the mountainside.

I have since read Rebekah's Blog and I know that this walk could not have been for me: at least not in the way they did it.
Maximo Respeck to my friends for doing this and for having the courage to do it.
Tracy Saunders
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.com
 
A

AJ

Guest
#4
I am currently on holiday in Cantabria where I found a few refrences to this route. I too kissed the relic - sucker for idolatry.

Reference has been made on this forum to a very old route through the mountains, possibly described on a tea towel or mug? Haven't been able to find the reference. Can anyone help?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#5
AJ, the path you refer to is the Camino Viejo/Camino Olvidado/Camino Montaña. It starts in Basque Country and passes through the north of Burgos, Palencia, and Leon til it joins the Frances in Villafranca de Bierzo. I think it will qualify as El Camino Duro, as well, as it follows a Roman road longways right through the picos!

There is a group loosely organized around it, they are still waymarking. I am vaguely in touch with them, as I would like to walk at least part of this route in spring 2012. Unless I can find a good mule before then...

I am planning to post in the open forum about the route, ISO others who know it or have done it or want to. How would you feel about some hardcore hiking next year?

Reb.
 

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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#6
The guide is written, now being edited, I am told it will appear sometime soon on the CSJ site. I think it is my best effort so far.

Meantime, Austin from Canadian Co. of Pilgrims is out there hiking it, "beta-testing" the guide. So far, so good! We met up last night in Cistierna, where he appears rather exhausted but still smiling -- he´s walked from Mont St. Michel in France so he was in good shape before hitting the hard bits. He promises to post his impressions here on the Forum, soon as he gets his head round it all, perhaps in December?

Austin started this camino the day after he retired, so you have an idea of his vintage. He also chose to walk an alternative route over the first-day mountains, taking the San Glorio Pass instead of the Pandetrave Pass as waymarked. His photos are spectacular. He has been incredibly lucky with weather!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#7
Ok, sign me up. I'm not exactly sure where or when I'll be walking next summer, but now's a great time to start planning, don't you think? I await your new guide with bated breath, Reb. One question, though -- I think you walked from Potes to Leon, right? Do you know anything about San Vicente de la Barquera to Potes/Liebana? My still embryonic idea is to walk maybe from Bilbao or Santander to San Vicente, head down to Leon, then back up to Oviedo, then onto the Primitivo. When I walked the Salvador, I missed the part up to Poladura, and instead had a 6 or 8 km slog on the nacional up to Arbas. I have been hoping to get back to enjoy that day that you and others have described in such glowing terms. I am elevation-deprived in the flat midwest and this sounds like the cure.

Laurie
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#8
Laurie
The "Ruta Liebana" from San Vicente to Potes (Liebana) is part of the new guide. I hope to walk that this spring, just to be sure I got it right. (I pulled it from other sources.) Perhaps we can join forces for just a bit of your gran recorrido? It should sate all your mountain-climbing desires. I have two California friends who are interested...

Reb.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#9
Sounds great, Reb. I'll PM you. Anyone else interested in this possibility? I know how hard it is to coordinate schedules, but if there are other Vadiniense wannabes, make yourselves known! Laurie
 
A

AJ

Guest
#10
Rebekah Scott said:
AJ, the path you refer to is the Camino Viejo/Camino Olvidado/Camino Montaña. It starts in Basque Country and passes through the north of Burgos, Palencia, and Leon til it joins the Frances in Villafranca de Bierzo. I think it will qualify as El Camino Duro, as well, as it follows a Roman road longways right through the picos!

I am planning to post in the open forum about the route, ISO others who know it or have done it or want to. How would you feel about some hardcore hiking next year?
Thanks Reb, yes that is the one I was referring to.

Hardcore hiking? Are we talking Camino porn?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#11
"camino porn" is what this website is all about -- like "hardcore" anything, it is an arcane pursuit fascinating and gratifying to a small number of self-selecting people.
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Camino Aragones 2012, 2017, Via Francigena 2016 & 17,
#12
peregrina2000 said:
Sounds great, Reb. I'll PM you. Anyone else interested in this possibility? I know how hard it is to coordinate schedules, but if there are other Vadiniense wannabes, make yourselves known! Laurie
When are you planning to do it?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#13
Hi, jenny,
I'm hoping to be able to start around May 20, from either Bilbao or Santander. BTW, lovingkindness walked this route and has some beautiful pictures on her long post. I think it will be another one of those solitary caminos, with mountains! Laurie
 
A

AJ

Guest
#14
Rebekah Scott said:
Meantime, Austin from Canadian Co. of Pilgrims is out there hiking it... he´s walked from Mont St. Michel in France
I'd be interested in any info on the route from Mont St. Michel to Irun. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via Podiensis 2002, Camino Frances 2003, 2004, 2008, 2012, Via de La Plata 2005, 2006. 2013, Camino Ingles 2013, Camino de Madrid 2008, Camino Salvador 2008, Camino del Norte 2010, Camino de Levante 2012,
Camino Mozarabe 2015, Camino Salvador 2015, Camino Primitivo 2015
#15
You people (Rebekah and Laurie) are amazing. I have trouble keeping up with you. Might be able to do it next Spring. San Vicente - Leon. Keep me posted. Best to both. Kev
 
#16
Hi Rebekah,
This year I walked from Vézelay to Fisterra. I took the Norte. I intended to take the Primitivo also, but changed my mind. Now I regret it. So I plan to walk september next year to walk from Bilbao to Gompostela via the Vadiniense and part of the primitivo. So I'm very interested in your guide.
Yesterday I was surfing for the Picos and found the following youtube movie: Picos de Europa -- Dia 5 -- Garganta del Cares (Bulnes -- Cordiñanes). It made my stomach turn. Now I want to know if the path I've seen is part of the Vadiniense. You told me some time ago that fear of height is something between my ears, but still ...
Greatings,
Servaas
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#17
Dear Servaas,
That garganta is NOT part of this camino. It is spectacular, though, no?

Austin from Canada says he gets vertigo, and as such he took a different bit of mountain path over the really big peaks (Cosgaya to Puerto San Glorio). I can´t see how he saved any altitude, but hey... if he is a pilgrim, that is a camino! No fear. If it requires ropes and pitons, count me out!

In all seriousness, this IS a tough camino, it does have some tough climbing, but it is NOT mountaineering. If me and Kathy (I am 40-something, she was at Woodstock!) can do this, I think any reasonably fit and informed pilgrim can do it. In the end it was not the mountains that got us, it was the 40+ degrees heat on the flat bit before Mansilla.
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#19
I will write a bit more on this when I have some time, but the Cosgaya-Puerto de Glorio walk over the Collaud de Llesba is not really very vertiginous. It is along mountain meadows and up gravelled roads suitable for a good 4-wheel drive vehicle (although only herders' and emergency vehicles are permitted). There are only 300-400m over 12km (must check that figure) which are problematic.

It is, however, a stiff and continuous ascent of about a thousand metres over 12km, and is a climb which should not be taken in anything but the finest weather, and after consultation with locals. Mountain weather is changeable and a white-out over the meadows could put the walker in a difficult situation. As well, it is not regularly patrolled, and a broken or sprained ankle could put one in a dangerous spot. I went on my own and soon came to realize that it was a risky decision. I would now recommend travelling with at least one other person on this route.

I balanced height and distance fairly carefully, and it was the two last days into Mansilla las Mulas which I found the most difficult. As Rebekah's really very good guide points out, there are few resources (food, etc) for the pilgrim in this stretch, and no respite along the way.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#20
FYI to all who seek the CSJ guide to the Vadiniense:
The CSJ are not publishing it after all. :?
If you would like a copy, please contact me directly.

Reb.
 
Camino(s) past & future
preparing for possible combination Camino Viejo/Vadiniense/Primitivo fall 2017
#21
FYI to all who seek the CSJ guide to the Vadiniense:
The CSJ are not publishing it after all. :?
If you would like a copy, please contact me directly.

Reb.
Dear Rebekah,

Some years later...;) are you still 'online' on this site? I'm planning to walk the Camino (Viejo and/or Vadiniense combination) this fall starting Oct 15. I would be very interested to read your Guide if possible.

Cheers,
Hans (from the Netherlands)
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#22
I am still here. There are other, more up-to-date guides to the Vad out there now. I'd hate for you to use my old one and get lost!
 
Camino(s) past & future
preparing for possible combination Camino Viejo/Vadiniense/Primitivo fall 2017
#23
Ok good to hear! I'll look for it online then (the shops don't have them here)
 

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