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Madrid / Salvador / Primitivo or the Frances from St Jean

doctorherman

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances*3, Ingles, Primitivo, Finisterre, Baztan, and Portuguese
I am in early planning stages for a July / August 2020 Camino (the only time I can walk)

I have walked the Frances 3 times already, but LOVE it very much.
I love the Frances because it is easy and has so much Camino infrastructure as well as churches and Mass (almost) every evening. I regard it as a comfortable, spiritual, R. Catholic Camino, that can be walked in Summer without difficulties.

But I will have 41 days to walk this year and am thinking of the Madrid, Salvador and Primitivo route.
So, my question is, would the Madrid camino be too tough and hot in July? Has anyone walked it in the height of Summer? Is it a difficult Camino, like the very challenging Primitivo? (which is my absolute limit in terms of length of days, cold and wet in Summer, and elevation) From what I have looked up, it appears to be easy enough, but if it is 40 degrees that would not be the case. I am ok with 30 degrees. but 40 is surely a furnace. Also, are the churches open and is there Mass?
Just wondering on this route or whether to walk another steady , relaxing and contemplative Frances?
Any input from Summer Madrid caministas would be very much appreciated.
 

Elizabeth2018

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2014); Madrid, Salvador (2018)
I would be cautious of walking the Madrid in July -- north of Segovia the terrain is very exposed with little shelter from the sun. There are two or three days of intermittant pine forests but those don't last once you hit the Meseta. The terrain between Madrid and Cercedilla on the south side of the Sierra de Guadarrama is very beautiful but again you be exposed to the sun in places.

There are very few people on the Madrid -- if you like a solitary camino you may enjoy it but if you like having people around -- other than friendly locals in the villages -- you may not.

Other than mass at the Church of San Juan and Santiago in Madrid, where we received a pilgrim's blessing. I don't recall seeing open churches and masses while walking the Madrid and Salvador in May last year. Perhaps others on the Forum will have some information about that.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I totally agree about the possibility of very high heat. Madrid had some real scorchers last year in June and July — over 40 C. I personally wouldn’t start the Madrid after early May, but I really don’t like high temps. Someone like @LTfit will tell you it’s just not a problem, so it really does depend on your own body temperature regulator.
About churches — I learned, too late for me unfortunately, that the church in Wamba is easy to visit. There are tours and also the people in the adjacent bar seem to have the key. Others who have visited can provide better details. But in general I will say that if you are in a tiny town and you see a church, it will be closed, but there is a high likelihood that a señora living nearby has the keys and will open up for you. So it pays to ask. Mass is much less likely.

One way to avoid the high temps (or at least minimize the likelihood) would be to walk the Camino Olvidado from Bilbao to Ponferrada, and then Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago. There are some hard days on the Olvidado, and I know you said that the Primitivo was your maximum in terms of difficulty, but stages can be broken up and mountains can actually be avoided if you want. I know my comments fall in the category of unsolicited advice, but if the heat of the Madrid is a dealbreaker, this is an alternative to consider. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/ender’s-olvidado-guide-in-english.63557/

But, on re-reading your post, you absolutely will not find the same level of infrastructure or mass possibilities on any camino other than the Francés. So it just depends on how important those features are to you. Buen camino, Laurie
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
What about late April for walking the Madrid?. I am hoping that a friend will join me, but if not I presume that it is OK to walk on one's own? I love the Primitivo but I think that after walking it twice, I should try something new.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
What about late April for walking the Madrid?. I am hoping that a friend will join me, but if not I presume that it is OK to walk on one's own? I love the Primitivo but I think that after walking it twice, I should try something new.
I think late April is perfect! Of course who knows if you will get ridiculous temperatures, since they are definitely rising and Madrid frequently bears the brunt. But I think the odds are pretty good for you. I say it’s perfect because the fields will be green, the wildflowers in bloom, and no snow problems leaving Cercedilla. And of course if you love the Primitivo, you can walk from Sahagún to León, and take the Salvador to the Primitivo. :) Or try out the Invierno if you are going to have time to walk that far.

I have walked all of these caminos, most multiple times, alone. Never had a problem. If you like to walk solo, you will revel in the many chances to spin around in delight and shout out your thanks of joy. Buen camino, Laurie
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
I think late April is perfect! Of course who knows if you will get ridiculous temperatures, since they are definitely rising and Madrid frequently bears the brunt. But I think the odds are pretty good for you. I say it’s perfect because the fields will be green, the wildflowers in bloom, and no snow problems leaving Cercedilla. And of course if you love the Primitivo, you can walk from Sahagún to León, and take the Salvador to the Primitivo. :) Or try out the Invierno if you are going to have time to walk that far.

I have walked all of these caminos, most multiple times, alone. Never had a problem. If you like to walk solo, you will revel in the many chances to spin around in delight and shout out your thanks of joy. Buen camino, Laurie
Thank you Laurie - you are amazing!
 

Elizabeth2018

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2014); Madrid, Salvador (2018)
I
I have walked all of these caminos, most multiple times, alone. Never had a problem. If you like to walk solo, you will revel in the many chances to spin around in delight and shout out your thanks of joy. Buen camino, Laurie
I love that image, Laurie. Spinning around and shouting out your thanks of joy. I remember doing exactly that alone on a mountain top on the Frances. Such a euphoric moment.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
I walked the Madrid exactly a year ago - late September/early October and while the locals said it was exceptional, temperatures were still reaching the high 30s. I can’t imagine choosing to do it over 40!
 

doctorherman

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances*3, Ingles, Primitivo, Finisterre, Baztan, and Portuguese
Thank you for the great feedback folks. This is so useful and has helped me to decide that a Madrid Camino in Summer wouldn't be the wisest choice. I thinki I'll possibly stick with the Frances but may vary the start and walk the Aragones first. But also, I will find a time this week to sit down and carefully read the Camino Olvidado guide, very kindly linked to above. This is a Camino I have so far never considered. Thanks all.
 
Last edited:

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The Aragon makes for a nice alternate start. If you go this way, overnight at Obanos rather than Puenta la Reina ... a last quieter night before joining the hordes.
 

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