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My Stages on the Camino de Invierno

2020 Camino Guides

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
This was the summer for a jerry-rigged Camino. I started in Madrid and walked the Camino de Madrid to Sahagun (I've got a separate post on that camino). I then got on the Camino Frances and walked to Ponferrada, and then went onto the Camino de Invierno. The Camino de Invierno is open and ready for business! Since Reb wrote her very helpful CSJ online guide, there must have been several major arrow-marking and general signage efforts. You do not have to worry about getting lost (at least not too badly :)). The scenery is just incredible, it's a very beautiful camino. I have sent my detailed walking notes to Rebekah for her to figure out what to do with, but if anyone else wants them before the revisions come online, just PM me.

I was surprised at the vehemence with which the hospitaleros in Ponferrada tried to dissuade me from taking this route. They told me it wasn't marked, that it was dangerous, that I shouldn't do it alone. And I was also surprised at the lack of knowledge on the part of the people in the tourist office. There is some printed information, and there are some signs in town describing the route, but the Camino de Invierno is still very much totally overshadowed by the Camino Frances. And that's fine, it's not a competition, but I do think there's a real value in having such a beautiful alternative, especially at the exact point where the crowds really start to heat up on the Frances.

Even more than the Camino de Madrid, this route is incredibly solitary, at least until you join up with the Via de la Plata at the albergue in A Laxe. I will admit that a few days were kind of hard on my spirits. I think in part that the shock of breaking off the Camino Frances (after about a week walking there and having made a couple of pretty tight walking buddies), coupled with already having walked a pretty solitary Camino de Madrid, made it harder. I vividly remember leaving the Ponferrada albergue early in the morning with my Camino Frances friend Paulette, and giving her a big hug and goodbye at the place where the sign pointed "Camino de Invierno." It was hard. I didn't meet one other pilgrim while I was on the Invierno, but the night before arriving in Santiago (by then the Invierno had merged into the Via de la Plata), I met another peregrina who had used Rebekah's guide and had been a day behind me on the Invierno. She said she had frequently thought she saw footprints, which made her feel less alone, and she assumes now that they were my footprints. So you can see that if seeing footprints makes you feel less alone, this is a VERY lonely camino.

It is also an incredibly beautiful and varied camino. There was so much to soak in, so much to appreciate of what these remote areas of Spain are like. I did spend a lot of time in public places, like parks, cafes, libraries, and had lots of frequent conversations with the locals. Without that contact, it wouldn't have been enjoyable. For some, having no human contact would be a real plus, for others a deal-killer, it just depends on you. I would walk this Camino again in a minute, IF I thought I was going to run into at least one or two others at the end of the day and/or on the road. If you don't like walking alone, this is not the camino for you. But if you do, go for it. It's totally safe, wonderfully off-road (with the road walking limited to roads that have no traffic on them) and a lot of different kinds of terrain.

Though the signage is now terrific, the pilgrim infrastructure lags behind. One private albergue has opened up in A Rua (currently 3 beds, plans for a bigger room with more), and there is a youth albergue in Quiroga, which is big and well maintained. There is also a relatively new albergue in the old school building of Xagoaza, which is a few km outside of O Barco de Valdeorras, and a couple of kms up a hill and off the Camino. I didn't hear anything about plans to build more, but there are two active Camino de Invierno groups, and they moved heaven and earth to get the signage up to a high standard, so they can probably help get some more albergues opened along the way.

I will describe my stages in the next post.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day One -- Ponferrada to As Medulas (28 km). WOW, a great day. Two hefty ascents, totalling over 850 m, I think. Lots of beautiful off-road paths, through valleys and hamlets, it was a great way to start the Camino. The first ascent goes up to the Castle of Cornatel, perched impossibly on a rocky summit; the second takes you up to As Medulas, where you see how the Romans were able to blast the insides out of mountains with rushing water in their search for gold. I am glad I got an early start and was able to spend several hours walking up and around to see the whole landscape up close and from afar. There are well marked paths to amazing lookouts (2 km straight up from town) and paths through the area itself. There's also a very interesting visitor's center, where I saw several short films explaining the engineering of this incredible environmental devastation. Choices for the night include a nondescript Hotel Medullio (30E); the Casa Rural Agoga (45 E B&B), or a private home with a "Hay habitaciones" sign (20E -- house located right across from the church).

Day 2 -- As Medulas to O Barco de Valdeorras (26 plus a couple out and back to the lookout on the way out of town of As Medulas -- if you were able to visit the other main mirador/lookout point the day before, this one is not as spectacular so I would skip it). Very pleasant day, through chestnut groves, cherry orchards, several nice villages, a town or two. All pretty well marked. With an extra 2 or 3 km push beyond O Barco, you could go to the albergue in the town of Xagoaza. In the old school house, with kitchen but town has no facilities so bring food. I stayed in town at the Gran Tortuga (following in Rebekah's steps). Good meal in San Marcos Restaurante.

Day 3 -- Barco to A Rua (15 km). Very short day, but I couldn't figure out an alternative. Lot of on-road, but most of that was along the river, and the road was not busy at all. Private albergue here is top notch. Casa de Cultura has internet and is open mornings and afternoons, plus I was able to do a little "arrow painting" with the head of the Camino Friends group here. In addition, Asuncion (albergue owner) took me up to a little hamlet way up high for a chance to get inside a little romanesque church, see the amazing views, and talk with several villagers (and eat their cherries!). In retrospect, having a short day was probably not a bad thing, because the next few are fairly strenuous.

Day 4 -- a Rua to Quiroga (28 km). Lots of kms along the shoulder of a totally un-used road, with great views of the river below. The Camino takes you down to the river and back up again at least twice, so there's some good aerobics going on. Through some remote villages -- in one of them a woman stopped me to wish me well and went on and on about how I was the very first pilgrim she had ever seen come through her town. I totally enjoyed this stage, there were many beautiful stretches through those green Galician tunnels near babbling brooks. Youth hostel in Quiroga, but I couldn't find the person in charge, so I wound up in the very clean Hostal Quiper and had a very good meal in the Restaurante Aroza. Again was able to fill in some of the long solitary hours on the internet in the Casa de Cultura.

Day 5 -- Quiroga to Monforte de Lemos (33 km and a bit hard, but a wow-zer overall). There are three ascents (followed by descents) and fortunately it goes from hardest to easiest. Lots of country walking off-road. The town of Puebla de Brollon is about 21 kms into this stage and has a hostal if you want to stop. I kept going to Monforte and very much enjoyed walking around this pretty lively place. There's a castle tower, a small monastery with a parador inside, a huge monastery, a roman bridge, a romanesque bridge, an old juderia, lots of cafes. I had a lot of points in the paradores program from a trip I had taken years ago to celebrate my parents' anniversary and even though the points had expired, the central office told the clerk to give me a free room. Luxury and total comfort.

Day 6 -- Monforte to Chantada (28 km). Lots of beautiful scenery on this day, and there was one long gentle ascent to the romanesque church at Diamondi, with a steep descent to the Minho River and a steep ascent up the other side. A lot of this etapa was on the side of un-traveled pavement. Chantada is a nice town with a good vibe IMO; nice old quarter, helpful library, all services. There is an excellent off-stage option on this stage, a Casa Rural -- Casa Santa Estevo, http://www.ribeirasacra.com. It is an easy 1/2 hour walk down from the Diamondi church, about halfway up the slope on the Minho. The views are astonishing, out over vineyards, the house is very cozy and comfortable, the gardens are beautiful, the romanesque church next door is a national treasure, the food is great, and the hosts are very fine people (he is British, she Dutch). When was the last time you sat drinking wine and looked out over the vineyards where the grapes for this wine had grown? (I know this because I took a rest day later in the week and came back here for some R&R -- MOST highly recommended).

Day 7 -- Chantada to Rodeiro (27 km). A day with a sustained ascent to the Alto de Faro, site of a pilgrimage church. Through a number of pretty hamlets, and lots of off-road walking. There's an eerie stretch along the base of a string of those giant windmills with their incessant flap flap flapping noise. Rodeiro is a small town, all services. I also met a lot of nice people in Rodeiro, very pilgrim-friendly.

Day 8 -- Rodeiro to A Laxe (27 km). Easy day, through nice villages and one long stretch through pine forest, ag fields. The town of Lalin is quite a bustling Galician town, lots going on, all services. From there it's about 6 km to the Via de la Plata albergue at A Laxe. Leaving Lalin, you have 3 km on a very nice municipal river walk,then a few km through the industrial park, and then you're on the Via de la Plata. From there it's either three easy days or one long and one short day to Santiago. Either way, your last night will probably be in the very nice albergue 5 km up the hill from Ponte Ulla, in the hamlet of Outeiro, next to the Santiaguino church. From the albergue it's a short 17 km to Santiago. And for a nice treat, you can see the cathedral spires a few kms outside, something which those on the Frances cannot do.

So, I am going to stick my neck out and predict that within a few years this will be a more heavily traveled Camino. With the signage problem solved, it's just such a tempting alternative for people getting tired of the crowds on the Camino Frances, that I have to think it will grow in popularity.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
OK, Laurie, I am ready to pack up and leave NOW! Although I could not keep up with your long stride and mileage, your summaries of the steps are standouts.

Now all we need is people to start walking it!
Reb.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Reb,

I just keep piggy-backing on your coat tails (is that a mixed metaphor?), or free riding as the economists would say. You are the trailblazer! I'm also hopeful that there will be more peregrinos on this route, because the signage is now excellent.

So, come on guys, when you get to Ponferrada, you have a chance to avoid the masses and strike out on a beautiful alternative. Ignore the dire warnings of the hospitaleros in Ponferrada that the Camino de Invierno is unmarked, that is just not the case. It's true you will need to spend more on accommodations, but I rarely spent more than 25E for a private room with bath. But you will be in off-road Galicia, with wonderful, helpful people and a lot of knockout scenery.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Arn

Veteran Member
Laurie and Reb,

Laurie the Farseeking and Adventuresome! A fantastic step by step along what I'm sure will become a jewel in the Camino experience. Your honest and insightful experiences on the Camino de Invierno will no doubt encourage many a peregrino to walk this Way less traveled. Thank you!

Reb...now I understand why you asked about what CI meant. Eyes open now!

Saludos

Arn
 

ksam

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese '08, Frances '11, del Norte '14, Invierno '16, Ingles '17, Primitivo October 2018
Laurie!!! Much to my surprise...we were on the Camino at the same time, or Paulette is simply spending entirely too much time there and I am more jealous than ever!! :D

I was so surprised when I saw her in your pics...delighted, as we were in Orisson together on May13/14....and I crossed paths with her several more times at least until Santo Domingo de la Calzada...

Loved..LOVED your pics..and may well have to give this one a go...soon!! Thanks so much for your amazing post and the pics!

Karin
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Ksam,

I sent you a PM describing the unusual way in which I met Paulette -- in the interest of forum decorum, I will not describe it here, except to say that it invovled someone behind a closed door coming out from behind a closed door in unusual (and very little) garb. It also turned out that Paulette was close friends with a friend of my close friend (and former camino partner) from Santa Rosa. Small world (or as the Spaniards would say, el mundo es un panuelo), all these camino crossings.

Are you planning another camino? Dumb question, I know. Buen camino, Laurie
 

Jeff Stys

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (03, 04), VdlP (05, 06), Norte (07,08), Primativo (09), Frances (12)
Thank you so much for this post!

I am planning my camino for April 2012 and I think I just changed my route. The Camino de Invierno sound amazing. It's so exciting to read about new places and challenges.

All the best,

Jeff
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Yes, Jeff, I agree that it is amazing. And beautiful in so many ways. I am sure that this route is going to be heat up and get more traffic in the not too distant future. The least we can do for all those hard-working dedicated amigos del camino de invierno is give them some foot traffic!

If you're going to start further back and will have been on the Camino Frances for a while before you turn off at Ponferrada, let me just tell you that it may be hard to bite the bullet and leave the friends you will have made. But don't doubt, just follow that Invierno sign and you won't regret it. And you'll run into people again for your last two or three days, when the Invierno meets the Vdlp in A Laxe, outside Lalin.

Laurie
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Wow! What a beautiful Camino!
But you are Superwoman, huh?
Those 28 k stages would kill my feet.
I'm a wimp. My average is around 18 to 24 k and I'm done for the day.
Are there places to camp along this route?
Awesome... now I have another place to walk
Thanks! ::laughing::
 

virveb

New Member
Love your posting and pictures. I am starting to think if I could do that next year... or the next. Still enjoying my last summer memories from Frances.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Annie,
You don´t need to walk the looong stretches that Laurie does. I certainly could not, at least not day after day! She is a walkin´machine.

I think camping is a fine option, if you are willing to shlep a tent. Otherwise know there are economical sleeping options all along the way, but you may need to go a few meters off the path to get there. This is not wilderness hiking, but it is also a long way from the "moving sidewalk" the CF has become in places.

No worries.
Reb.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Ha ha ha. If I'm a walking machine, it's an old fuddy duddy walking machine. That aside, I have a couple of comments. First I agree with Reb that there are many places along the Camino de Invierno that are rural, undeveloped, uninhabitated and to my eye inviting to the peregrino/a with a small tent. I am not a camper and have never pitched a tent on the camino, though, so I may be missing obvious things. And, as Reb points out, none of this route is in the wilderness, you are never more than a couple of kms from human habitation, but it is delightfully undeveloped nonetheless.

And if you are interested in shorter stages than the ones I've described in the first post, there are many ways to accomplish that. It will just take a little more advance planning (and probably a little more money) than on the Camino Frances because of the small number of places that rise above the level of "isolated hamlet" (in which there are not likely to be any accommodation options). But it is oh so worth it! Reb's guide and list of accomodations offer many alternatives, and those of us who have walked it can help out if you are trying to plan short stages. Buen camino, Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I just wanted to add a suggestion for those who want to configure shorter stages on the Camino de Invierno. If you are able to spend more than the typical albergue cost, and if you would like to spend a few nights in the same place with pick-up and drop-off, I would suggest you consider spending several nights in the Casa de Santo Estevo, http://www.ribeirasacra.com, which is near the bridge at Belesar, on the way into Chantada. It is a beautiful home in a beautiful setting, and the prices are very reasonable.

Ian and Irene's Casa Santo Estevo is right next to an incredible romanesque church, and they are happy to work with pilgrims to arrange several stages with drop-offs and pick-ups. Judging from where they are on the Camino de Invierno, about 9 km from another romanesque jewel, the church at Diamondi, it would be easy to configure three or four days walking using their home as the base. Ian has told me that he would be happy to do the transportation, but his car size limits the number of pilgrims he can transport. So you would have to work out the details with him, but I do think that this is a great option for those who want to walk the Camino de Invierno but don't like some of the longer tougher stages.

Buen camino! Laurie
 
Camino de Invierno

I am pleased to see there is interest in walking the Camino de Invierno. I walked this route in September with my husband. He is aged 77 and I am nearly 73. We have walked many other routes and there are several reasons why we would recommend this one. We did a couple of longer stages (28 and 35km in very hot weather!) and there were some fair ascents and descents. (My knees are not great!) We walked for 12 days from Ponferrada to Santiago. The name may be misleading as I would not like to walk it in winter. There is a Spanish guide weighing 232g. but you only need 90 of the 124 pages! We used Rebekah's CSJ guide and notes from Laurie Reynolds. We had no difficulty finding hotel accommodation even though my mobile phone refused to get land-line numbers. We have a list available of where we stayed with the prices we paid. We were very glad we had chosen this route. The people were welcoming and the countryside lovely. We met only three (Spanish) pilgrims before we joined the Camino Mozarabe (Via de la Plata).

Maricristina
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks, maricristina, good to see another endorsement of the Camino de Invierno.

I know that for some would-be Invierno pilgrims, the long stages are a deal-breaker. Given the spacing of accommodations, it is important to have stages planned out to some extent, and I've been able to combine maricristina's stages with another couple of tweaks to come up with some shorter stages. So that means we've got a 12 day, a 9 day (both in Reb's guide), a 10 day (my stages), and a 13 day option.

1. Ponferrada to Borrenes (18)
2. Borrenes to Puente Domingo Florez (14.5) (gives you lots of time to visit As Medulas along the way, which is a must see Unesco site)
3. Puente Domingo Florez to O Barco (17.5)
4. O Barco to A Rua (14 km)
5. A Rua to Quiroga (28)
6. Quiroga to Puebla Brollon (23)
7. Puebla Brollon to one of two Casas Rurales after Monforte (20/24)
8. Casa Rural to Chantada (19 or 15, depending on which CR you stayed in the night before)
9. Chantada to Rodeiro (27)
10. Rodeiro to Lalin (21)
11. Lalin to Bandeira (22)
12. Bandeira to Puente Ulla(albergue in Outeiro) (17)
13. Puente Ulla to Santiago (16)

And if you have the finances, and want to shrink some of the middle stages even further, you should consider basing yourself in the Casa Rural Santo Estevo, http://www.ribeirasacra.com. The Dutch-British couple that owns the lovely home is willing to work with you to arrange a couple of days with pick-ups and drop-offs . The house is located about a km off the Camino, right on the bank of the Minho River, and is wonderful, quiet and isolated -- very comfy rooms, great food, views, and wine, and right next door to an amazing romanesque church (the first romanesque church to be declared a national monument, and this happened before the Civil War, I believe). Computer there for guests' use. Highly recommended.

I have been in contact with several others on the forum who are planning to walk the Invierno next year, and I think that anyone who decides to do this will be very pleased with the decision.
Laurie
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino F 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 C Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016 & 17 Primitivo 2018
Laurie you are an inspiration to us all and I am sure that you have encouraged many more pilgrims will do this route.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks, Jenny, I think you will really like the Invierno. In looking at my posts on these threads I see that I have repeated the information several times, and I apologize about that. But I did want to add that I now have two sets of notes from recent walkers, which I would be happy to forward to anyone who PMs me.

Buen camino to all, Laurie
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
Laurie, after reading this thread I think I changed my mind again and would prefer the Invierno over the Salvador and Primitivo... This really looks great! I am not too scared of the loneliness. I have been walking in Belgium and the northern part of France last year and haven't met any other pilgrim at all. Knowing that my French is a lot worse than my Spanish, you might be able to imagine the kind of loneliness I already have experienced. I am also quite used to carrying food for a few days in my pack by lack of any bakery, small shop or bar whatsoever...

However, I will probably have the same experience as you did: making some good friends on the Francés and then having to leave everyone at once. I can imagine that can be hard and it will certainly make the contrast with being all alone a lot sharper. We'll see. Maybe I can convince new companions to join me!

peregrina2000 said:
I just wanted to add a suggestion for those who want to configure shorter stages on the Camino de Invierno. If you are able to spend more than the typical albergue cost, and if you would like to spend a few nights in the same place with pick-up and drop-off, I would suggest you consider spending several nights in the Casa de Santo Estevo, http://www.ribeirasacra.com, which is near the bridge at Belesar, on the way into Chantada. It is a beautiful home in a beautiful setting, and the prices are very reasonable.
This sound like a great option too. I will certainly consider this!
 

Mmc_56

Member
Laurie,
Do you speak Spanish fluently ? Is there much English spoken along the route ? Probably not. This route sounds wonderful, but not sure it would be for me. I found that meeting and talking with others from all over the world part of what makes the Camino so special. My Spanish is limited, so if I couldn't even really speak or visit with the locals, and there are very few other walkers....not sure I would like the experience as much. Charades can only last for a short conversation :)

A couple of days like that would be fine for me, but I like the interaction with others. On the Camino Frances in Aug., we stayed a couple of nights in smaller towns but I found that there were only Spanish people staying here, and they only talked to one another and I missed talking to people. So the next day we walked a 30k so we could get to Santa Domingo and some English speaking people. I didn't realize until then that I would NEED the contact. Learn something new every day :)
Marilyn
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Marilyn,
Yes, I speak good Spanish. I didn't often need it for directions, since the path is so well marked, but I was really glad to be able to communicate with people in the bars and restaurants. One night in Rodeiro, I remember, the bar owner knew a man who had helped mark the Camino de Invierno, so she called him and he came over for a long chat. On the Invierno, there are unlikely to be any other walkers, and the smaller the town the less likely anyone will speak English, so I wouldn't recommend the Invierno if you are looking for an English speaking bunch.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

CanPete

Northern Route Pelgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Past : Northern route, Primitivo
Future : Via de la Plata, Sanabres, Portuguese routes
Thank you for posting, great pictures ! Very much reminds me of Northern Portugal, Tras os Montes region . . .
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:

tindora

New Member
Becoming very tempted by the invierno...does anyone know where to find an elevation map like on the eroski site? We will be *dragging* a stroller (as in pulling, not pushing) and ups and downs are more challenging that way and we would need to plan the stages accordingly.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am currently hunting for elevation information for someone who has emailed me and Reb and will get back to you. I KNOW I have it somewhere. How else could I have given the 850 m of ascent for the first day? Look at econodan's threads on the forum, too, with a link to his website. He just walked the Invierno and has a lot of good updated information, I think. Also, KinkyOne just walked, and I'm sure will be posting about it. Right now he's doing a day by day of his Camino de Madrid, so keep an eye out. As I remember, Kinky had found a way to break up all or most of the longer stages.

It's a great camino, I think we all agree on that. And now that it supposedly has received some kind of official recognition from the Xunta, I assume more developments will follow pretty quickly. Marking is great, but the infrastructure is lagging behind, not surprising of course. Laurie
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Becoming very tempted by the invierno...does anyone know where to find an elevation map like on the eroski site? We will be *dragging* a stroller (as in pulling, not pushing) and ups and downs are more challenging that way and we would need to plan the stages accordingly.
Hi, tindora!

As Laurie already posted I've walked Invierno this July but am currently writing comments on Camino de Madrid. I guess I'll come to Ponferrada in about two weeks, hopefully :D
I got all the info needed from these sites:
- http://mundicamino.com/rutas.cfm?id=66
- http://caminodeinvierno.es/etapas-itinerario-alojamiento-predicción-meteorológica/
- http://www.suicammini.com/file/Guida.del.camino.de.Invierno.pdf
and Rebekah Scott's booklet from CSJ webpage.

On Mundicamino there are also elevation maps which I compiled in .pdf document also attached in this post. Take a look. I also have GPS track, itinerary (not with corrected data on distances for now) which you can also get if you're in a hurry.

But be aware that Invierno has at least half of the stages with one or two Cruz de Ferros or O'Cebreiros in one day!!! Really no walk in the park ;)

Ultreia!
 

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Becoming very tempted by the invierno...does anyone know where to find an elevation map like on the eroski site? We will be *dragging* a stroller (as in pulling, not pushing) and ups and downs are more challenging that way and we would need to plan the stages accordingly.
Hi, tindora,

Look at www.caminodeinvierno.com

There you will find distances and elevation. If you have trouble navigating the site let me know and I can help you out, because it's all in Spanish. Let us know if you go for the Invierno!

Buen camino, Laurie
 

tindora

New Member
Thank you all so much for your prompt AND informative answers!

We don't have a lot of mountains around town, except for one large hill, referred to as "the mountain", elevation 230m. We walked up from the base (which is not at sea level) and around and down, and we were completely wiped out! A two minute look at the altitude charts of the Invierno told me in no uncertain terms that this is not the Camino for us this time round :-(

But the Camino and it's many routes have been around for centuries and will still be there in 10 years when we have strapping teenagers to conquer this one!
 

Silvester

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Salvador (2014)
Camino Primitivo (2014)
Camino Muxia (2014)
Camino Fisterra (2014)
Hi Laurie
Is this camino called invierno because it is particularly passable in winter? For us in the southern hemisphere, travelling in December/January is much easier to arrange, but many of the routes are clearly less passable over winter. How feasible do you think a short stages/longer timeframe camino would be in winter?
Thanks
Mary
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Mary,
Our little guide has some discussion of that question. It is true that the Camino de Invierno passes at a lower altitude than the Francés, but for modern pilgrims I think that the lower elevation is offset by the fact that there are more stretches without facilities of any kind. I just don´t know whether any of the high spots typically get snow, maybe others can help out with this.

Have you seen the guide in the resources section? It will give you a pretty good idea of accommodation spacing and the like. There are a couple of forum members who are always happy to pitch in to help with questions on the Invierno, so ask away. Buen camino, Laurie
 

purplesage

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais, Finisterre and Muxia (2012) , Camino Portuguese 2014, Camino Inglese 2015, Camino Muxia 2015, Incomplete part of CF 2015 ... will hopefully finish later this year
This was the summer for a jerry-rigged Camino. I started in Madrid and walked the Camino de Madrid to Sahagun (I've got a separate post on that camino). I then got on the Camino Frances and walked to Ponferrada, and then went onto the Camino de Invierno. The Camino de Invierno is open and ready for business! Since Reb wrote her very helpful CSJ online guide, there must have been several major arrow-marking and general signage efforts. You do not have to worry about getting lost (at least not too badly :)). The scenery is just incredible, it's a very beautiful camino. I have sent my detailed walking notes to Rebekah for her to figure out what to do with, but if anyone else wants them before the revisions come online, just PM me.

I was surprised at the vehemence with which the hospitaleros in Ponferrada tried to dissuade me from taking this route. They told me it wasn't marked, that it was dangerous, that I shouldn't do it alone. And I was also surprised at the lack of knowledge on the part of the people in the tourist office. There is some printed information, and there are some signs in town describing the route, but the Camino de Invierno is still very much totally overshadowed by the Camino Frances. And that's fine, it's not a competition, but I do think there's a real value in having such a beautiful alternative, especially at the exact point where the crowds really start to heat up on the Frances.

Even more than the Camino de Madrid, this route is incredibly solitary, at least until you join up with the Via de la Plata at the albergue in A Laxe. I will admit that a few days were kind of hard on my spirits. I think in part that the shock of breaking off the Camino Frances (after about a week walking there and having made a couple of pretty tight walking buddies), coupled with already having walked a pretty solitary Camino de Madrid, made it harder. I vividly remember leaving the Ponferrada albergue early in the morning with my Camino Frances friend Paulette, and giving her a big hug and goodbye at the place where the sign pointed "Camino de Invierno." It was hard. I didn't meet one other pilgrim while I was on the Invierno, but the night before arriving in Santiago (by then the Invierno had merged into the Via de la Plata), I met another peregrina who had used Rebekah's guide and had been a day behind me on the Invierno. She said she had frequently thought she saw footprints, which made her feel less alone, and she assumes now that they were my footprints. So you can see that if seeing footprints makes you feel less alone, this is a VERY lonely camino.

It is also an incredibly beautiful and varied camino. There was so much to soak in, so much to appreciate of what these remote areas of Spain are like. I did spend a lot of time in public places, like parks, cafes, libraries, and had lots of frequent conversations with the locals. Without that contact, it wouldn't have been enjoyable. For some, having no human contact would be a real plus, for others a deal-killer, it just depends on you. I would walk this Camino again in a minute, IF I thought I was going to run into at least one or two others at the end of the day and/or on the road. If you don't like walking alone, this is not the camino for you. But if you do, go for it. It's totally safe, wonderfully off-road (with the road walking limited to roads that have no traffic on them) and a lot of different kinds of terrain.

Though the signage is now terrific, the pilgrim infrastructure lags behind. One private albergue has opened up in A Rua (currently 3 beds, plans for a bigger room with more), and there is a youth albergue in Quiroga, which is big and well maintained. There is also a relatively new albergue in the old school building of Xagoaza, which is a few km outside of O Barco de Valdeorras, and a couple of kms up a hill and off the Camino. I didn't hear anything about plans to build more, but there are two active Camino de Invierno groups, and they moved heaven and earth to get the signage up to a high standard, so they can probably help get some more albergues opened along the way.

I will describe my stages in the next post.
Thank you perigrina2000 for the fantastic post !! I am leaving on 28 October for Santiago... and after that.... I don't know (yet). This is normal for me..... I get inspired once I'm there. I have a friend in the pilgrim's office who gives me suggestions... that have been very good. I walked The English Way last month. I am seriously considering The Winter Way. You say The Way is well sign-posted? That should solve every problem: just follow the yellow arrow !! I am praying for inspiration. Buen Camino
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, purplesage, have you seen the online guide? https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/resources/a-guide-to-the-camino-de-invierno-february-2015.301/

This guide is based on the experiences of a bunch of us who have walked recently. I am currently working on updates for a new edition, and it just may be complete enough for me to send to you for you walk next week. Are you starting to walk in Ponferrada, or are you starting further back and planning to make the decision between Invierno and Frances when you get to Ponferrada? (If it's the latter, I'll have a little more time to work on the guide, but in either case, I can send you something next week). Yes, I do think that the marking is very good. And even if you miss an arrow or two, the locals are now so much more aware of the Camino that I don't think you will have a problem getting back on the camino. Buen camino, Laurie
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
I am currently hunting for elevation information for someone who has emailed me and Reb and will get back to you. I KNOW I have it somewhere. How else could I have given the 850 m of ascent for the first day? Look at econodan's threads on the forum, too, with a link to his website. He just walked the Invierno and has a lot of good updated information, I think. Also, KinkyOne just walked, and I'm sure will be posting about it. Right now he's doing a day by day of his Camino de Madrid, so keep an eye out. As I remember, Kinky had found a way to break up all or most of the longer stages.

It's a great camino, I think we all agree on that. And now that it supposedly has received some kind of official recognition from the Xunta, I assume more developments will follow pretty quickly. Marking is great, but the infrastructure is lagging behind, not surprising of course. Laurie
Laurie, the caminodeimvierno.com has all the elevationinfo you need, including diagrams, under the etapa botton.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you perigrina2000 for the fantastic post !! I am leaving on 28 October for Santiago... and after that.... I don't know (yet). This is normal for me..... I get inspired once I'm there. I have a friend in the pilgrim's office who gives me suggestions... that have been very good. I walked The English Way last month. I am seriously considering The Winter Way. You say The Way is well sign-posted? That should solve every problem: just follow the yellow arrow !! I am praying for inspiration. Buen Camino
Hi, purplesage, just wondering if you are still considering the Invierno this fall, because I do have a pretty complete version of the new edition. Final version will be ready in January, but if anyone is walking now or soon, let me know and I can send a rough copy of the updates. Buen camino, Laurie
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
[...] Final version will be ready in January, but if anyone is walking now or soon, let me know and I can send a rough copy of the updates. Buen camino, Laurie
That'll be wonderful, Laurie. We are planning for walking the "Invierno" during "Spring" next year, so we'll just follow your developments on this Forum. Thanks in advance.;)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Wonderful news, Laurie! Thank you for all the effort that must have already gone into this.
I am also planning/thinking of walking the Invierno next March/April (if I don't fall prey to the siren song of the meseta, that is...I only have 2 weeks and so have to choose one or the other:confused:).
So I am glad to know there will be reliable information.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Wonderful news, Laurie! Thank you for all the effort that must have already gone into this.
I am also planning/thinking of walking the Invierno next March/April (if I don't fall prey to the siren song of the meseta, that is...I only have 2 weeks and so have to choose one or the other:confused:).
So I am glad to know there will be reliable information.
Not to say anything negative about the meseta, but the Invierno is a perfect two week journey. Depending on your daily kms, the average range is about 10-13 days. Though there are no cities along this route other than at the beginning and the end, Monforte de Lemos has a fair amount going on (along with a very nice parador that I straggled into on my first Invierno when I was beat) and could be a rest day if you are partial to that. The other rest day option is to take one in one of the three or four casas rurales close to the route, all of which are described in our little document. Some of those places are close to the Mino and Sil Rivers and you might be able to work a deal for someone to take you on a little tour. The Sil River canyon, close to but not on the camino, is really very beautiful.

I have gotten back revisions and comments from about three different people, still waiting on a few, but the 2016 version is shaping up very nicely! Buen camino, Laurie
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Very wise not to diss the meseta, Laurie! ;) There would probably be an opinion storm as a result.

Albergues? I understand they are few and far between (I can comfortably do 20-30kms/day).
I may be weird, but that is definitely my preference.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Viranani,
Yes, that's the big drawback. There are two pilgrim albergues, but unfortunately they are about 12 km from each other, one in Xagoaza, outside Barco de Valdeorras, and one in A Rua in the home of Asun and her mother. There are a couple of other youth hostels, where I confess I have never stayed, in Quiroga, and one Vilamartin or Arcos or somewhere after a Rua (but the guide has all the correct information, don't worry!). For the most part, you are left with pensiones (usually very reasonable, usuallly in the 20 euros range for a single person).

In a couple of years, I am sure that will change, now that there is the official designation from the Xunta and some money is likely to be available. There is no shortage of empty homes with albergue potential, and this past summer I spoke with people in several small towns (Sobradelo, Domingo Florez and a few more) where people told me they were starting to push for a municipal albergue). So if you wait a few years, you'll probably have albergues in many more places.

I have seen the same phenomenon on the Caminho Portugues from Lisbon. When I first walked in 2008 or 9, there were no albergues at all except for a youth hostel near Lisbon and maybe in Porto. Now there are enough public and private albergues to allow for an almost completely albergue based camino. The risk of course is that if you wait too long, not only will you have albergues but you'll also have the mad rush of the multitudes, but I think the crowds are still a few years away! Buen camino, Laurie
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
Hi everyone,

I've read the draft of the Invierno guide 2016 and although I didn't find errors or anything to add, I can make some comments:

Casa Solaina in A Rúa: I had read quite a few posts about this place here in the Forum, so I headed that way. Phoned Asún (owner) several times, no-one answered. One last try and Asún picked up: she was at hospital because something had happened to her mother (Manuela). By phone she helped me find a pensión in Town. Really sad - hope her mother is okay. This was late July this year.

In Quiroga, municipal albergue: "Beware large school groups that may keep you awake all night." I would change "Beware" to "Run for your life". Large group of 11-year-olds with teachers while I was there. I had a room of my own but that didn't help. Can't believe I did the mistake of staying there with the kids. For your information: frequent plays with 11-year-old galician kids and their teachers include: screaming, yelling, shouting and slamming doors. Playtime ends at 01:30 (a.m.). Run for your life when you see them. Bad Pilgrim...

If you take the carretera between Quiroga and Pobra de Brollón you will find a modern restaurant-café about half way. Not that anyone would opt for the carretera instead of official camino (there is an explanation to why I did), but I read that there are no services or water before Puebla de Brollón on the official camino.

Hospedaxe O Guerra in Rodeiro: brought back memories reading this. Yes: excellent cooking by the owner. The best meal on that whole camino (by the way, I started in Alicante) which I told her, because she really deserved to hear this. Extremely helpful. Her daughter also friend of camino, so we chatted the whole evening away about camino memories/plans for the future. Wonderful people.

/BP
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Hi everyone,

I've read the draft of the Invierno guide 2016 and although I didn't find errors or anything to add, I can make some comments:

Casa Solaina in A Rúa: I had read quite a few posts about this place here in the Forum, so I headed that way. Phoned Asún (owner) several times, no-one answered. One last try and Asún picked up: she was at hospital because something had happened to her mother (Manuela). By phone she helped me find a pensión in Town. Really sad - hope her mother is okay. This was late July this year.

In Quiroga, municipal albergue: "Beware large school groups that may keep you awake all night." I would change "Beware" to "Run for your life". Large group of 11-year-olds with teachers while I was there. I had a room of my own but that didn't help. Can't believe I did the mistake of staying there with the kids. For your information: frequent plays with 11-year-old galician kids and their teachers include: screaming, yelling, shouting and slamming doors. Playtime ends at 01:30 (a.m.). Run for your life when you see them. Bad Pilgrim...

If you take the carretera between Quiroga and Pobra de Brollón you will find a modern restaurant-café about half way. Not that anyone would opt for the carretera instead of official camino (there is an explanation to why I did), but I read that there are no services or water before Puebla de Brollón on the official camino.

/BP
I too hope that everything was/is OK with Manuela. We've had quite a few very funny moments together :D
I guess I was really lucky in Albergue Turistico in Quiroga. There were about 100 kids but they went to bed long time before I did.

Between Quiroga and A Pobra de Brollon there are at least two options of service/water. The First one is In Barxa do Lor if you turn left after Puente Romano. Two restaurants there, one of them CR as I remember. After Barxa there's steep uphill and I stocked on water at the last house on the left where the Camino already levels. Also you can get water at Castroncelos, few kms before A Pobra. So, no
problems with water on this stretch as I see it. Where there are houses there is water and people willing to help you ;)

Ultreia!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member

gollygolly

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2000, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Many thanks indeed for this post of your account, as am now beginning planning for walking the Camino de Invierno in June.

A brief question - are you aware of a specific Credencial for the Camino de Invierno, or is it only the 'standard' Credencial that is generally issued ?

Buen Camino !!
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
Many thanks indeed for this post of your account, as am now beginning planning for walking the Camino de Invierno in June.

A brief question - are you aware of a specific Credencial for the Camino de Invierno, or is it only the 'standard' Credencial that is generally issued ?

Buen Camino !!
Hi,

There should be some sort of official credential as they are usually provided by the Asociaciones, but you don't need a special one. Most people come directly from the Cam francés so they use that one, or a credential from any other route. There's no problem.

Have fun!

/BP
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Isn't the only different credencial only the one for the SanSalvador? Apparently the Lugo Cathedral teied to issue one for the Primitivo starting in Lugo and it's been rejected by the Cathedral in Santiago.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Isn't the only different credencial only the one for the SanSalvador? Apparently the Lugo Cathedral teied to issue one for the Primitivo starting in Lugo and it's been rejected by the Cathedral in Santiago.
Not really. There is credencial for Levante issued by Asoc.in Valencia. I also picked up credencial with different cover from TO in Zamora. Don't know about other Caminos.
Maybe you mixed up San Salvador credencial with Salvadorana? (similar to Compostela)

PS (If you start Primitivo in Lugo the only way to really walk the Primitivo is to go "backwards" to Oviedo :D)
 

gollygolly

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2000, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Isn't the only different credencial only the one for the SanSalvador? Apparently the Lugo Cathedral teied to issue one for the Primitivo starting in Lugo and it's been rejected by the Cathedral in Santiago.
Thanks for the response. The Camino de San Salvador definitely has a different Credencial ; the 'different' Credencial that I saw last year being used by a (Spanish) Peregrino on the Camino de Invierno I now assume was possibly issued by one of the
Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago

 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Thanks for the response. The Camino de San Salvador definitely has a different Credencial ; the 'different' Credencial that I saw last year being used by a (Spanish) Peregrino on the Camino de Invierno I now assume was possibly issued by one of the
Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago
Since Santiago already got into a tif with Lugo regarding its credencial I would doubt it would accept any others.

The Associacion de amigos do Camino de Santiago por Valdeorras is very clear when it tells those planing to walk the Invierno to only use the Cathedral's credencial starting April 1st : http://caminodeinvierno.es/

Nuestra Asociación dispone de Credenciales oficiales para los peregrinos que realicen el Camino de Invierno ( La Catedral de Santiago no dará la Compostela a los que vengan con credenciales que no sean la oficial a partir de abril de 2016, para evitar la proliferación y venta de credenciales de hasta 20€).
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
Of course the Asociación's office is in A Rua, and people probably start well before that village. ;)The credencial can be had in Astorga (cathedral for one) or Ponferrada :D(albergue).
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Of course the Asociación's office is in A Rua, and people probably start well before that village. ;)The credencial can be had in Astorga (cathedral for one) or Ponferrada :D(albergue).
The credencial can be bought through Ivar, even easier. ;). I was just cutting and pasting the info about javing to have a regular credencial, not an Invierno specific one, if it ever existed.
 

Athena Atterdag

time&space traveller
Camino(s) past & future
Via Francigena (2017,2018)
Via Turonensis (Paris-Chartres,2018)
Camino de Invierno (Dec2018/Jan2019)
Even more than the Camino de Madrid, this route is incredibly solitary, at least until you join up with the Via de la Plata at the albergue in A Laxe. I will admit that a few days were kind of hard on my spirits. I think in part that the shock of breaking off the Camino Frances (after about a week walking there and having made a couple of pretty tight walking buddies), coupled with already having walked a pretty solitary Camino de Madrid, made it harder. I vividly remember leaving the Ponferrada albergue early in the morning with my Camino Frances friend Paulette, and giving her a big hug and goodbye at the place where the sign pointed "Camino de Invierno." It was hard.
Laurie, I'm so glad I decided to re-read this thread now, on my third day on the Invierno! I started in Leon and walked four stages on the Frances until Ponferrada, and it was so incredibly hard to follow with my plan to turn south from there and parting ways with my amazing walking buddies! Especially as the first day, to As Medulas, was all foggy - I saw blue sky just twice - at the castle of Cornatel and at As Medulas, and couldn't see more than a dozen of metres in either direction. Not the best way to walk through El Bierzo!

On the hospitaleros in the municipal albergue in Ponferrada - they, too, warned me that the Invierno had very little services and so was very difficult, but I saw this more as a genuine concern for a lonely pilgrim embarking on a journey along a less-than-well-trodden route. After all, they couldn't know that I had a detailed plan and the excellent forum guide!;) I also found them very ready to help - they showed me the maps of the Invierno and helped me contact the Casa Socorro at As Medulas.
 

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