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Mid-day start from St Jean possible?

Andrew Wiggin

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planned: 2019
Hi everyone,

I'm hoping to start my Camino on Saturday December 2 and I'm wondering if it's possible to start walking mid-day. Due to the December 1 strikes I won't make it to SjdP that day and instead plan to take the 11 AM train from Bayonne.

Is it doable / advisable to set out noonish, or would it be better to wait for Sunday morning? Are hostels even open midway SjdP and Roncesvalles?

Any input greatly appreciated!

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You do know that you will have to take the lower Valcarlos route since the Napoleon route is closed from November 1st to April 1st? You can stop in Valcarlos, but at this time of year it will be getting dark pretty early. I'd wait until the next day. The Camino isn't going anywhere.
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Sunset in Valcarlos on 2 Dec will be at 5:31 pm, with perhaps half an hour more to the end of civil twilight. That will give you six hours. At that time of the year, I doubt you want to be walking after that to try and get to Roncesvalles. The options seem to be:
  • stay in Valcarlos - the municipal albergue listing in Gronze shows it is open all year, other places might be as well.
  • stay in SJPP and start walking on 3 Dec. There will be a bit over nine hours of daylight, which most people find is enough. Don't get lost! I did the first time I walked from SJPP, and it took me about 10 hours by the time I got back on track!
Valcarlos is 11-12km from St Jean. Easily reachable with an afternoon start. You'll have time to check in with the Pilgrim's Office and probably for lunch. The Albergue in Valcarlos is very comfortable and well equipped. Starting from Valcarlos on your second day makes Burguete or even Espinal easily reachable but do check accommodation availability. The PO in St Jean will be able to assist. The information at https://www.aprinca.com/alberguesinvierno/ should also be of value
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Seasonality aside, the latest I've managed to start from SJPP and get to Roncesvalles was 11 AM, and that was with many weeks of walking in my feet, and about 40K daily.

So yeah -- stay over in Valcarlos.
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You'll enjoy the Valcarlos route. Note, though, the walk out of Valcarlos to Roncesvalles is a good 'test' of stamina. Those that walk the Napoleon get their elevation gain predominantly on Day 1. On the Valacarlos...the climb comes on Day 2. That said...an absolutely beautiful route which, I'm sure, you will love. Buen Camino!
I have loved the Valcarlos route and the variety of landscape it provides. The muni is very nice and the two times I have stayed there it has never been filled up. It has a lovely big bathroom and nice showers, too.
@Kev&Kath, very true; day 2 really wore me out!
Interesting info, but just to check I understand the options I have tried to map it and I hope I also understand how to include a map as this is my first postwalk1alt.jpg
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