- 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 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.