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Looking for a flexible camino

Antonius Vaessen

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
Since 2015 I walked on a Camino practically each year (la Plata, Norte, Primitivo, Salvador, Le Puy, Frances to Burgos). This year in May I had kneeproblems and had to stop my camino, the problems lasted a month of 3, now I still feel the cause of the problem is still there. I don't want to give up my future caminoplans yet. ( although it can easily end up with that conclusion) I would like to look forward and have a kind of perspective. A possible camino for me would probably have to comply with a few conditions regarding flexibility. In the first place there should be enough places to stay the night to be able to adopt my daily distance to how I feel/my fysical condition. In the second place it would be nice if there is a possibility of transporting my backpack. (I don't like that idea, but if it would be the only way in which I still can walk a camino it is no problem) A camino that would comply with these 2 conditions will probably have to be a " busy" camino, like the Frances or the Portuguese. Busy caminos in itself don't attract me. Two questions: Does anybody see possibilities on less travelled and not difficult caminos?
Is there a period when the camino Portuguese from Porto is less crowded ?
Thanks in advance for ideas
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
The vast majority walk the Portugues from Porto. Some start at Lisbon, but the first couple of days are a little uninspiring.

The walk from Tomar (accessible by trains from Porto or Lisbon) to up to Coimbra is a lovely part of the Portuguese, not particularly well travelled but with plenty of options for eating and sleeping. From Coimbra to Porto is not so interesting but again, relatively quiet, you could detour out to the coast at Espinho to walk the last 20km by the boardwalk and beaches up to Gaia and along the south bank of the Douro to Porto.

You could fit in a detour to Fatima too, from Tomar.

Pack transport, I don't know, I haven't ever used it but others will know..
 
The Muros is fast gaining in popularity but is not yet overcrowded.
 
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You can do the Ingles and break it into 9 days. It’s relatively easy but is on a lot of hard service (not busy roads.) There are a couple of climbs but they didn’t compare to the big ones on the Frances. There is also bag transport. Because it’s short and some places have few accommodations it is wise to book. We did stay off route once and they picked us up.
I’m in the same boat having walked 9 Camino’s since 2015. I got bursitis in my hip on my last one in June….. not from hiking but from the conga line in the albergue. It doesn’t seem to want to go away and I’m praying I will be able to go on my spring Camino.
 
Hi Antonius,
Bad knees - it's cruel how they deprive us of the camino and make us feel suddenly old!
My right one has taken 3 years to improve and next month I'll test it on the camino once more.
There are two caminos mentioned above I really like - the Ingles and that stretch of the Portugues between Tomar and Coimbra, which you could make a bit longer by starting further back, like around Santarem.
I walked the Portugues in October/November ( a few years ago). I left Porto at the start of November and it was really quiet to Tui, and then just a bit busier from there to Santiago.
My favourite of the shorter caminos is the Vasco, but I'm not sure that it would be possible to arrange bag transport. Apart from the first day and the famous tunnel itself it is largely flat.
I'll be very interested to see what other people recommend.
Best wishes, tom
 
Since 2015 I walked on a Camino practically each year (la Plata, Norte, Primitivo, Salvador, Le Puy, Frances to Burgos). This year in May I had kneeproblems and had to stop my camino, the problems lasted a month of 3, now I still feel the cause of the problem is still there. I don't want to give up my future caminoplans yet. ( although it can easily end up with that conclusion) I would like to look forward and have a kind of perspective. A possible camino for me would probably have to comply with a few conditions regarding flexibility. In the first place there should be enough places to stay the night to be able to adopt my daily distance to how I feel/my fysical condition. In the second place it would be nice if there is a possibility of transporting my backpack. (I don't like that idea, but if it would be the only way in which I still can walk a camino it is no problem) A camino that would comply with these 2 conditions will probably have to be a " busy" camino, like the Frances or the Portuguese. Busy caminos in itself don't attract me. Two questions: Does anybody see possibilities on less travelled and not difficult caminos?
Is there a period when the camino Portuguese from Porto is less crowded ?
Thanks in advance for ideas
I have had precisely the same question - having experienced bursitis followed by a diagnosis of osteoarthritis after my last short venture onto the Frances earlier this year. Following physio and interminable rehab I’ve decided on the Portuguese in early March next year.

Whilst I don’t plan on using them it has both luggage transport and public transport options and plenty of infrastructure.

Meanwhile I’m looking longingly at the less travelled routes from Valencia if the Portuguese passes without incident.
 
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@Antonius Vaessen I feel your pain, brother.

Porto to Santiago in winter would be my vote. Lots of accommodation, good support including bag carrying (although in winter I'd prearrange it to be safe). Or in spring or autumn - Tomar to Coimbra as suggested by @Flog. Both lovely places.

You could look at Ourense to Santiago - with a plan to catch a taxi out of Ourense.
 
... you could detour out to the coast at Espinho to walk the last 20km by the boardwalk and beaches up to Gaia and along the south bank of the Douro to Porto...
Beautiful as Porto is, it's as miserable as any city in the rain. Prompted by my own post, and rather than trudge around yesterday morning on wet, slippery cobbles, I walked this route in reverse:

After loading up with 3 cups of coffee, I crossed the bridge into Gaia and further fortified myself with a 5 shot port line up from one of the places in front of the port warehouses. (It was a bit early but what the hell!), before continuing along the Douro to the lovely fishing village of Afurada where the sun made a late appearance and I sat down to a lunch of sardines, salad and potatoes. From here you continue out to Lavadores where the old fashioned wash houses are still in everyday use, and turn south at the mouth of the Douro down the coast. At Aguda, sitting out on an outcrop and isolated at high itide is the beautiful Capela do Senhor da Pedra, The path alternates between boardwalks and sand and passes numerous cafes and bars all the way down to Espinho where I made the 20 minute train journey back to Porto.

This is a pleasant day's walk, whichever direction you do it, and a nice alternative to (another) day in Porto.

Walking it North into Porto, if you are coming up from Lisbon or Tomar for example, it will give you a sense of what to expect if you're undecided about the coastal or central path from Porto onwards..20220914_111125.jpg20220914_122416.jpg20220914_141158.jpg

20220914_154010.jpg
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Why don't you try camino in France ? Starting from le Puy is no too crowded off holidays, and offers many accommodations to adapt your daily walks. Furthermore La Malle Postale can carry your backpack.
 
Walking it North into Porto, if you are coming up from Lisbon or Tomar for example, it will give you a sense of what to expect if you're undecided about the coastal or central path from Porto onwards.
This was really the point of my long winded and self indulgent post about alternatives around Porto. There are so many posts on this forum with that one particular question: coastal or central? Whether the coastal is a valid camino path is another question but I felt it was worthy of a mention. I met 4 pilgrims coming North who had diverted around Espinho on my walk down the other day..
 
There’s a lot of responses about the Portuguese routes here. As someone dealing with foot/ankle issues on the Portuguese Camino (and now being a tourist because of them) I’ll say that the Portuguese route south of Porto isn’t fully flexible and may not be offering the support you’re looking for. I’ve been in Povoa and Viana as a tourist the last few days (as a tourist) and there are a lot of pilgrims traipsing thru right now. Seemingly a lot more than my last Portuguese route here at this same time 3 years ago. I think you may need to consider later or earlier in the year from Porto, or definitely consider the LePuy route, (or other French routes?)
Sometimes these issues offer us new options —such as, there were a few days when I walked 10k a day. Baggage carriage wasn’t an option (south of Porto) but shortening my day was an alternative. I’ll be contacting my docs and physios upon return. I hope your issues get worked out, too. Short caminos that require very little gear might work better, keeping your pack light. Baggage carriage isn’t such a bad alternative either. It’s just part of the journey. It’s a tough position to be in, but keep your chin up and your options open. I’m certain you’ll find your answer.
 
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Since 2015 I walked on a Camino practically each year (la Plata, Norte, Primitivo, Salvador, Le Puy, Frances to Burgos). This year in May I had kneeproblems and had to stop my camino, the problems lasted a month of 3, now I still feel the cause of the problem is still there. I don't want to give up my future caminoplans yet. ( although it can easily end up with that conclusion) I would like to look forward and have a kind of perspective. A possible camino for me would probably have to comply with a few conditions regarding flexibility. In the first place there should be enough places to stay the night to be able to adopt my daily distance to how I feel/my fysical condition. In the second place it would be nice if there is a possibility of transporting my backpack. (I don't like that idea, but if it would be the only way in which I still can walk a camino it is no problem) A camino that would comply with these 2 conditions will probably have to be a " busy" camino, like the Frances or the Portuguese. Busy caminos in itself don't attract me. Two questions: Does anybody see possibilities on less travelled and not difficult caminos?
Is there a period when the camino Portuguese from Porto is less crowded ?
Thanks in advance for ideas
You've got a bit of a Catch-22 here. On the one hand you want a Camino with lots of lodging options and backpack transfer. On the other hand you want a Camino with few pilgrims. If there are few pilgrims, then you don't have enough to support a backpack transfer service and lots of different lodging options. You could try walking a more popular Camino at a less popular time of year, but then you run the risk that some lodging options may be closed "off season". The off-season may affect the availability of luggage transfer, too. Will there be enough pilgrims to justify sending out the luggage transfer vehicle?

Your best bet is probably to walk a well-travelled route but adjust your daily start and stop points to not coincide with the stages in the principal guide books, or adjust your daily start and stop times so that most pilgrims leave before or after you do.
 

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