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More Thoughts on the Olvidado

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles


I hope I won’t be looking back at all this in a few years’ time and shaking my head, but it looks like we can realistically plan for 2022. A lot of people will be considering a less well-known camino and the Olvidado is certainly that, in fact ‘neglected’ or ‘overlooked’ might be a better translation than ‘forgotten’. But it is definitely there, and is waiting for pilgrims. We walked it as far as La Robla (on the Salvador) in Sept. 2019. If you really intend to walk it, Peregrina’s and Ender’s guides are a must (and I think Ray y Rosa have done a map). I just thought I could give some general thoughts to help you prepare – and believe me, you do need to be prepared for this one. Preparation, as we all know, is the key, which is why I am starting with some (slight) negatives.

Number 1, accommodation. There are a few albergues and youth hostels, especially at first, but not so many as you progress. You will need to stay in hotels and pensions at least some of the time, unless you are a 35 km+ marathon walker.

Number 2, food. Even less food on the way. It is a thinly populated area and even when there was a bar/café, it was often closed until 1 pm. There weren’t always shops either. We would always take a packed lunch and emergency rations to make dinner, just in case.

Number 3, pilgrims. We did not see any other pilgrims on this camino, except for three who were actually on different, intersecting, caminos. You will need to be content with your own (or your partner’s) company. If you speak Spanish, that will make things a lot easier as local people were very ready to chat and intrigued to hear about the Olvidado

Number 4, route and waymarks. Sometimes very good, sometimes not. In places they are faded. There is a stage (I think after Nava de Ordunte) where disgruntled local land-owners are reputed to have sabotaged the waymarks, but the only ones painted over we saw were along the road, suggesting more your common or garden, car-driving vandal. Coming out of Irús, before Villasante, there were some definitely misleading arrows (but lots of old ones if you keep your eyes open – we didn’t). As for the route, well, the Olvidado is still a work in progress and sometimes we found the route frustrating. Eventually a consensus is reached for every camino, in the meantime, there are two gravitational pulls between those who want a jolly good walk with no asphalt under any circumstances and those who just want to get there without too many diversions for sites of particular interest. We did a fair bit of road-walking, but that was by choice. One bit of the route that seriously needs revising is between Arija and Oléo. We took a taxi as we both had tendonitis and bad stomachs but it is long, winding and along a very nasty looking, busy road, and I am fairly sure that Wikilocs has a short cut. Talk to local people e.g. Adolfo in Nava de Ordunte, Chuchi in Santalices , Luisa in Villasante, and take their very sound advice.

One small tip, you can cheat, not really cheating, but the Olvidado branches off from the Norte just past the Devil’s Bridge. So you can technically steal a march by getting the train from Concordia Station (architectural gem, unmissable Art Nouveau) to Zalla.

So what are the positives? As I mentioned above, local people were fascinated to hear about the camino, talk and find out who we were and why we were doing it, not to mention their own life-stories.

The scenery.

The serendipity. There was always something popping up that couldn’t have happened on any other camino: odd unexpected bits of Spanish history: the tractor driver who watched us standing in the middle of the lane looking lost until with a little smile he took one step left and pointed to the arrow: the bar plastered with pictures of Che Guevara; an abandoned railway viaduct you have to walk over.

A sense of being a bit of a pioneer, a trailblazer for a new (but in reality very old) but overlooked camino.

It’s the camino.

Hope this isn’t too long and you enjoy the photos.
 
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calmeg

Member
dick- love the pictures. This is our next planned camino- with a twist. The plan is el norte from Irun to Bilbao as we absolutely love that section, the olvidado tp La Robla or Buiza, switch to the Salvador to Oviedo and then the Primitivo. But- that is subject to change as we were told that the olvidado after La Robla also is tremendous. From what we have heard the olvidado is not that well marked or full of albergues- but that is part of the experience!
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Thanks for the compliment. We did the turn north at La Robla to follow the Salvador (but with a couple of days in Léon first), then the Norte because we had walked the Primitivo before. All kinds of reasons and the Salvador is beautiful but with a slight twinge of regret. Peregrina suggests following the Invierno after Ponferrada, which would be good too. And hey, the experience is what it is all about.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
So good to read more first hand reporting on the Olvidado. I think that the surge, if it comes, is going to come from Spanish peregrinos first. There’s a lot of chatter about the Olvidado among Spanish camino fans. Sort of like the Salvador and the Primitivo. But when there is a “Spanish surge,” it typically is limited to August, IMO. So if I’m right, even if the Olvidado emerges from obscurity on camino radar screens, there will be many more years for those who want to enjoy it before the “rush” arrives.

But- that is subject to change as we were told that the olvidado after La Robla also is tremendous.
Actually, it’s the “new” alternative from Pola de Gordón that is quite the jaw-dropper. (So you wouldn’t continue south as far as La Robla if you were going to continue on the Olvidado rather than get on the Salvador). And when you add it to the “new” mountain stage from Puente Almuhey to Guardo, as well as the “new” Boñar to Vegacervera route, and the mountain walk from Fasgar, or the walk into Cistierna, it just becomes one glorious mountain walk after the next.

But Buiza to Pajares on the Salvador has got to be right up there with those Olvidado stages, they are all just simply exhilarating. So you can’t go wrong. And choosing between the Invierno and the Primitivo — impossible for me, you have to walk them both!

And one more thing — for those who may be wondering what @enderjace is up to now, (angel of both the Salvador and the Olvidado) he is spending a lot of time developing trails in his neighborhood, which is very near La Robla and Pola de Gordón. The hope is for some outdoor tourism economic revitalization of what used to be a prosperous mining area. The facebook page, Rutas de Gordón, show a lot of those routes. with wikiloc tracks.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Just saw this article proclaiming the rebirth of the Camino Olvidado.


It’s a very general article, directed to those who have no idea what the Camino Olvidado is, but what stood out to me was the repetition of the word “belleza” (beauty) as it described the route. I have never met anyone who walked this route who would disagree that that is one of the Olvidado’s defining characteristics!
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016


I hope I won’t be looking back at all this in a few years’ time and shaking my head, but it looks like we can realistically plan for 2022. A lot of people will be considering a less well-known camino and the Olvidado is certainly that, in fact ‘neglected’ or ‘overlooked’ might be a better translation than ‘forgotten’. But it is definitely there, and is waiting for pilgrims. We walked it as far as La Robla (on the Salvador) in Sept. 2019. If you really intend to walk it, Peregrina’s and Ender’s guides are a must (and I think Ray y Rosa have done a map). I just thought I could give some general thoughts to help you prepare – and believe me, you do need to be prepared for this one. Preparation, as we all know, is the key, which is why I am starting with some (slight) negatives.

Number 1, accommodation. There are a few albergues and youth hostels, especially at first, but not so many as you progress. You will need to stay in hotels and pensions at least some of the time, unless you are a 35 km+ marathon walker.

Number 2, food. Even less food on the way. It is a thinly populated area and even when there was a bar/café, it was often closed until 1 pm. There weren’t always shops either. We would always take a packed lunch and emergency rations to make dinner, just in case.

Number 3, pilgrims. We did not see any other pilgrims on this camino, except for three who were actually on different, intersecting, caminos. You will need to be content with your own (or your partner’s) company. If you speak Spanish, that will make things a lot easier as local people were very ready to chat and intrigued to hear about the Olvidado

Number 4, route and waymarks. Sometimes very good, sometimes not. In places they are faded. There is a stage (I think after Nava de Ordunte) where disgruntled local land-owners are reputed to have sabotaged the waymarks, but the only ones painted over we saw were along the road, suggesting more your common or garden, car-driving vandal. Coming out of Irús, before Villasante, there were some definitely misleading arrows (but lots of old ones if you keep your eyes open – we didn’t). As for the route, well, the Olvidado is still a work in progress and sometimes we found the route frustrating. Eventually a consensus is reached for every camino, in the meantime, there are two gravitational pulls between those who want a jolly good walk with no asphalt under any circumstances and those who just want to get there without too many diversions for sites of particular interest. We did a fair bit of road-walking, but that was by choice. One bit of the route that seriously needs revising is between Arija and Oléo. We took a taxi as we both had tendonitis and bad stomachs but it is long, winding and along a very nasty looking, busy road, and I am fairly sure that Wikilocs has a short cut. Talk to local people e.g. Adolfo in Nava de Ordunte, Chuchi in Santalices , Luisa in Villasante, and take their very sound advice.

One small tip, you can cheat, not really cheating, but the Olvidado branches off from the Norte just past the Devil’s Bridge. So you can technically steal a march by getting the train from Concordia Station (architectural gem, unmissable Art Nouveau) to Zalla.

So what are the positives? As I mentioned above, local people were fascinated to hear about the camino, talk and find out who we were and why we were doing it, not to mention their own life-stories.

The scenery.

The serendipity. There was always something popping up that couldn’t have happened on any other camino: odd unexpected bits of Spanish history: the tractor driver who watched us standing in the middle of the lane looking lost until with a little smile he took one step left and pointed to the arrow: the bar plastered with pictures of Che Guevara; an abandoned railway viaduct you have to walk over.

A sense of being a bit of a pioneer, a trailblazer for a new (but in reality very old) but overlooked camino.

It’s the camino.

Hope this isn’t too long and you enjoy the photos.
Boy! I would really like to do it
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Boy! I would really like to do it
For someone who climbs volcanoes, I would have thought it would be well within your level of competence! Just kidding. Buen camino, I hope you do it and enjoy it.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
So good to read more first hand reporting on the Olvidado. I think that the surge, if it comes, is going to come from Spanish peregrinos first. There’s a lot of chatter about the Olvidado among Spanish camino fans. Sort of like the Salvador and the Primitivo. But when there is a “Spanish surge,” it typically is limited to August, IMO. So if I’m right, even if the Olvidado emerges from obscurity on camino radar screens, there will be many more years for those who want to enjoy it before the “rush” arrives.


Actually, it’s the “new” alternative from Pola de Gordón that is quite the jaw-dropper. (So you wouldn’t continue south as far as La Robla if you were going to continue on the Olvidado rather than get on the Salvador). And when you add it to the “new” mountain stage from Puente Almuhey to Guardo, as well as the “new” Boñar to Vegacervera route, and the mountain walk from Fasgar, or the walk into Cistierna, it just becomes one glorious mountain walk after the next.

But Buiza to Pajares on the Salvador has got to be right up there with those Olvidado stages, they are all just simply exhilarating. So you can’t go wrong. And choosing between the Invierno and the Primitivo — impossible for me, you have to walk them both!

And one more thing — for those who may be wondering what @enderjace is up to now, (angel of both the Salvador and the Olvidado) he is spending a lot of time developing trails in his neighborhood, which is very near La Robla and Pola de Gordón. The hope is for some outdoor tourism economic revitalization of what used to be a prosperous mining area. The facebook page, Rutas de Gordón, show a lot of those routes. with wikiloc tracks.
I got the impression from the Wkiloc posts I saw about the Olvidado that a lot of Spanish people do a section or two at the weekend. I don't have a problem with this, good luck to them and it will help sustain some of the infrastructure. If Spanish people are restricted to their own region, it would still help the Olvidado become more used as there would be a lot of walkers living in Bilbao or Castille y Léon, so a locally-driven surge is definitely a possibility.
 

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