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More Thoughts on the Olvidado

dick bird

Active Member
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
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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Canche

Volcano Climber
Past OR future Camino
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
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
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.
 

EternalCamino

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy 2005-2011, SJPPP 2012, Sarria 2014, SJPPP 2015, Lisbon2017, Irun 2018, Oviedo 2019
I tried out the Olvidado in June 2021 and gave up after a day and a half - I could not find any arrows, spent a night out of doors when the sun went down while I saw still searching for the route, climbed off the hill when I still could not find the way in the morning, called 911, got a lift to the nearest town and took the train to Leon! I then did the Salvador to Oviedo and the Primitivo into Santiago. I may try again next year, with a different section.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Where did you start? I'm curious because I plan to start the Olvidado at the end of this month.
Thanks
Technically speaking, Bilbao, but the the Olvidado actually branches off the Norte just after the Puente de Diablo (Devil's Bridge), so you could get the local train from Concordia (15 mins) out to just before the Devil's Bridge and start from there to avoid slogging through the outskirts of Bilbao. I strongly advise downloading at least one of the excellent guides available through this forum, and using an app like Wikilocs to be on the safe side. I'm a bit surprised by EternalCamino not finding arrows. Sometimes the route wasn't clear, but we never got seriously lost. In fact, we met a pilgrim in Portugalete who had branched off the Norte by mistake by following the wrong arrows and had to walk back several kilometres.
 
Past OR future Camino
1341
Thanks. If totally mixed up/lost, I can take the train as you recomend.

I do have the Olvidado app and can download each "Guide". When I look at the Guide, it looks like it will track me as I go along the route. Is that correct? In other words, will the Guide show me exactally where I'm located?

In your first remarks about food, was there usually a tienda or supermarket to buy some lunch food? What about for breakfast?

Thanks again.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I tried out the Olvidado in June 2021 and gave up after a day and a half - I could not find any arrows, spent a night out of doors when the sun went down while I saw still searching for the route, climbed off the hill when I still could not find the way in the morning, called 911, got a lift to the nearest town and took the train to Leon! I then did the Salvador to Oviedo and the Primitivo into Santiago. I may try again next year, with a different section.
Have you considered taking GPS/tracks on a phone app, as back up in this sort of situation?
 
Past OR future Camino
1341
Have you considered taking GPS/tracks on a phone app, as back up in this sort of situation?
I have both the Wikiloc and the ViewRanger apps on my phone, but don't know where to get the GPS nor how to link/use the info into one of the apps? Is there a simple, easy lesson to show me how? (I've looked at some of the YouTube suggestions, but not quite what I need or too complicated.)

Thanks.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
The train is just a hack to skip the first 10 km or so to get out of Bilbao. Wikilocs will show you exactly where you are and where you have been - it traces and marks your every step but we only used it when we knew we had gone off trail and to get back on again. It drinks data and battery at an alarming rate so I would not use that or any GPS for main navigating. Best way to get used to it is to practise using it on a familiar area, e.g. around home - I used it to trace my walk home from work. There were waymarks for pretty well the whole route. You just have to look for them.

Food and provisions were an issue at times. There were one or two stretches were we had to carry food for a couple of days ahead.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
Thanks. If totally mixed up/lost, I can take the train as you recomend.

I do have the Olvidado app and can download each "Guide". When I look at the Guide, it looks like it will track me as I go along the route. Is that correct? In other words, will the Guide show me exactally where I'm located?

In your first remarks about food, was there usually a tienda or supermarket to buy some lunch food? What about for breakfast?

Thanks again.
The app uses your phones gps and shows you where you are and the track. There are adequate options for food but not necessarily at lunch or breakfast times. I tend to eat in the evening and just take something to snack on with me for the day’s walk.
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Past OR future Camino
2021
The train is just a hack to skip the first 10 km or so to get out of Bilbao. Wikilocs will show you exactly where you are and where you have been - it traces and marks your every step but we only used it when we knew we had gone off trail and to get back on again. It drinks data and battery at an alarming rate so I would not use that or any GPS for main navigation.
I found that, as long as I downloaded the offline maps and then set my phone to Airplane mode, I could navigate without draining the battery. On my iPhone the GPS continues to work in Airplane mode.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I found that, as long as I downloaded the offline maps and then set my phone to Airplane mode, I could navigate without draining the battery. On my iPhone the GPS continues to work in Airplane mode.
I found that my iphone had more than enough battery for a long days hike, using all of it facilities. That said I always carry a battery back up device with me just in case!
 
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Past OR future Camino
1341
I have Ender's Guide on my Android phone. I've downloaded the map/navigation onto the phone and can see a white path from Bilbao to Güeñes. QUESTION: once I've started walking from the cathredral, will my progress be shown on the map/naviation page?

Or do I need to get the "tracks" into Wikiloc?

Thanks.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I have Ender's Guide on my Android phone. I've downloaded the map/navigation onto the phone and can see a white path from Bilbao to Güeñes. QUESTION: once I've started walking from the cathredral, will my progress be shown on the map/naviation page?

Or do I need to get the "tracks" into Wikiloc?

Thanks.
yes.
 

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