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Navigation from Santarem onwards

Camino(s) past & future
Aumont-Aubrac to Conques (2016); Santarem to Coimbra; Tui to SdC (2017)
#1
Hi, I am planning to commence my Camino Portugues walk by myself from Santarem quite soon, but am a bit concerned about navigation. While I have managed Aumont-Aubrac to Conques in France without any problems, and without using any map at all, I have a feeling that the southern part of the Camino Portugues (internal) is a different story because:
(1) I have no sense of direction and very limited self-navigation experience;
(2) John Brierley warned that the first section of this camino (Lisbon-Porto) is open for 'seasoned pilgrims', which I can't claim to be;
(3) the super simplified maps in the Brierley book bear little resemblance to the roads / trails that I see in real maps;
(4) some people on this forum have reported that the yellow arrows - even on the supposedly well-marked section from Porto onwards - have from time to time pointed them in exactly the wrong direction!

So my questions are:
1. On which parts of the trail from Santarem (say, up to Coimbra) would I find misleading arrows or even the absence of arrows altogether?
2. Leaving aside those parts where the arrows are known to be wrong, is it safe to rely on the waymarkings without using any map or compass?
3. I do have a GPS app on my phone, which has proved useful on some of the short day hikes which I have done on my own in France. Would this be enough?

Grateful for any advice from those who have walked this part of the camino, especially if done recently. Thanks!
 

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HeidiL

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#2
I have no sense of direction whatsoever, and on the first day's walk out of Santarém last month, we just followed the yellow arrows to Azinhaga, without any problems. However, according to both our telephones, and the time it actually took, this distance was NOT 21.5 km, but around 26. The way-marked path leads you on a very long walk around some green fields, which (we discovered the next time we had access to a big screen), adds several km to the route in the handbook posted here. Pretty and green, and farther away from the bigger roads, but a bit cumbersome.

After this, we started using GPS a lot more. In fact, every single time the yellow arrows (which were visible and sufficient, but not as plentiful as on the CF) told us we needed to change direction in some unexpected way, we first checked the GPS. There were three more stretches between Azinhaga and Cunimbriga where the marked route and the shortest GPS route differed by more than a kilometre.

We also saw some older yellow arrows that someone had tried to scratch out, leading to busier roads, whereas the newer arrows led to more peaceful roads/paths, but mostly longer routes.

Authenticity? In the end, we decided that the early pilgrims would have chosen the shortest way to Santiago, not the most scenic one, and walked along the roads where the difference seemed sufficient to warrant a couple of kms with higher vigilance for traffic.

One point: Carry poles. We were attacked by a small pack of very, very angry dogs, one of which I actually ended up striking over the hindquarters with my pole to leave us alone.
 
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caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
#3
a well timed question, rgutena. I cannot answer it, but I do have my own question regarding the route between santarem and golega. I am hoping that laure or johhniewalker who wrote the CSJ guide can clarify it. (being the writer of my own guides I know and appreciate all the work that goes into making one. don't that this as a criticism, please.)

after Vale de Figueira the route crosses river Alviela then passes a quinta and reaches a T intersection quite close to the big tiver Tejo (Tagus). in JB guide this is the 6.4 Opcion where the green route via the flood plains splits off from the official yellow caminho. when reading the CSJ guide, this seems to be the T-junction at 3.5kms, which at 6.5km from Vale da Figueira must be the same junction.
SCJ guide says that there are two waymarkers and two signposts, signalling two routes to Brôa; there is a photo of them. but, when you follow the route on google maps with the video cameras, those waymarkers and signposts are some 3km further on on the official caminho, along the EN365 road where JB guide indicated the 3.1 Estrada Real split, with a yellow and a grey route.

which junction is the one with the signposts? based on google videos would that be the JB? then, is there a signpost indicating this green route?
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Planning on May june 2017
#4
I have prepared a set of very detailed maps for ALL of the Caminho Portuguese from Lisbon including the Littoral and Coastal routes after Porto. These are in PDF format and free to download. I have superimposed the route onto these maps. Accompanying that is a route planner ( in Micrsoft Word) with turn by turn directions on every street and where the arrow can be located (eg: arrow on back of stop sign far left corner). Most streets are named as well. I have included distances at very regular intervals as well. There are obviously many many maps so to load all to the net I created a FB group called "Caminho Portuguese Pilgrims". Send a request and I will add you and you can find all of the information in the "files" section of the group. I was going to publish this detailed guide but instead have decoded top " pay it forward" to all other pilgrims. Hope they are of some use to you and others. The group currently has about 220 members.
 

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Donating Member
#6
I have prepared a set of very detailed maps for ALL of the Caminho Portuguese from Lisbon including the Littoral and Coastal routes after Porto. These are in PDF format and free to download. I have superimposed the route onto these maps. Accompanying that is a route planner ( in Micrsoft Word) with turn by turn directions on every street and where the arrow can be located (eg: arrow on back of stop sign far left corner). Most streets are named as well. I have included distances at very regular intervals as well. There are obviously many many maps so to load all to the net I created a FB group called "Caminho Portuguese Pilgrims". Send a request and I will add you and you can find all of the information in the "files" section of the group. I was going to publish this detailed guide but instead have decoded top " pay it forward" to all other pilgrims. Hope they are of some use to you and others. The group currently has about 220 members.
Wow, that must have been a LOT Of work! Many thanks, Paddy, I am sure this is a resource that many people will appreciate.


a well timed question, rgutena. I cannot answer it, but I do have my own question regarding the route between santarem and golega. I am hoping that laure or johhniewalker who wrote the CSJ guide can clarify it. (being the writer of my own guides I know and appreciate all the work that goes into making one. don't that this as a criticism, please.)

after Vale de Figueira the route crosses river Alviela then passes a quinta and reaches a T intersection quite close to the big tiver Tejo (Tagus). in JB guide this is the 6.4 Opcion where the green route via the flood plains splits off from the official yellow caminho. when reading the CSJ guide, this seems to be the T-junction at 3.5kms, which at 6.5km from Vale da Figueira must be the same junction.
SCJ guide says that there are two waymarkers and two signposts, signalling two routes to Brôa; there is a photo of them. but, when you follow the route on google maps with the video cameras, those waymarkers and signposts are some 3km further on on the official caminho, along the EN365 road where JB guide indicated the 3.1 Estrada Real split, with a yellow and a grey route.

which junction is the one with the signposts? based on google videos would that be the JB? then, is there a signpost indicating this green route?
Caminka, I will have to look at the guide to see if it jolts my memory, but it has been almost ten years since I walked from Lisbon! The updates are based on contributions from forum members, and sometimes it's hard to make sense of everything. But we are always happy to take comments and corrections! I take it you will be walking from Lisbon.

Like Heidi says, I don't think you need to worry about marking, it is much improved since 2008.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Donating Member
#7
In the end, we decided that the early pilgrims would have chosen the shortest way to Santiago, not the most scenic one, and walked along the roads where the difference seemed sufficient to warrant a couple of kms with higher vigilance for traffic.
Hi, Heidi,
Well, this is the eternal dilemma for the Via Lusitana. Though you're right that "in the old days" pilgrims would have chosen the shortest way, there would not have been car and truck traffic on that path. The Via Lusitana has done great work in getting the caminho off the road, but I know that some will want to follow the direct shorter route.

For me and my feet, I will take the off road option at any point -- I'm fine with distance, it's the asphalt that kills me. Bom caminho, Laurie

p.s. one of these years we will coincide in Lisboa, I'm headed back soon and you've just been there!
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
#8
thanks, laurie!

I am not worried (too much) about getting lost. but I do like to know where I am going and what are my options. I would much prefer to take the green route (by JB) cause it avoids the most of tarmac roads and I really don't like these.

it looks like the (mixture of) portuguese caminhos will be my next route. (if I don't discover another lovely one here on the forum, as I did with the Burgos' St Olav yesterday. and then there's salvador, and mozarabe, and vdlp, and all the french lot...)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aumont-Aubrac to Conques (2016); Santarem to Coimbra; Tui to SdC (2017)
#9
I have no sense of direction whatsoever, and on the first day's walk out of Santarém last month, we just followed the yellow arrows to Azinhaga, without any problems. However, according to both our telephones, and the time it actually took, this distance was NOT 21.5 km, but around 26. The way-marked path leads you on a very long walk around some green fields, which (we discovered the next time we had access to a big screen), adds several km to the route in the handbook posted here. Pretty and green, and farther away from the bigger roads, but a bit cumbersome.
Many thanks, HeidiL, for your prompt and helpful advice! I only have 1 single pole though - hope that's enough to defend myself!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aumont-Aubrac to Conques (2016); Santarem to Coimbra; Tui to SdC (2017)
#10
I have prepared a set of very detailed maps for ALL of the Caminho Portuguese from Lisbon including the Littoral and Coastal routes after Porto. These are in PDF format and free to download.
Thank you! Have just sent a request too!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aumont-Aubrac to Conques (2016); Santarem to Coimbra; Tui to SdC (2017)
#11
a well timed question, rgutena. I cannot answer it, but I do have my own question regarding the route between santarem and golega. I am hoping that laure or johhniewalker who wrote the CSJ guide can clarify it. (being the writer of my own guides I know and appreciate all the work that goes into making one. don't that this as a criticism, please.)
caminka - I was also very confused by JB's map for the section you mentioned, although I had not gone into that level of detail of analysis!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aumont-Aubrac to Conques (2016); Santarem to Coimbra; Tui to SdC (2017)
#12
For me and my feet, I will take the off road option at any point -- I'm fine with distance, it's the asphalt that kills me. Bom caminho, Laurie
Laurie - Yes, I suspect that it was the asphalt and my relatively fast walking pace that gave me the first ever blister when I was doing part of the Le Puy route last year. I have done lots of mountain hikes before and never had any issue with my feet.
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#13
I can walk any distance on asphalt, for me, it's rolling gravel that exhausts me and gives me sore hips. We are all different!
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
#14
caminka - I was also very confused by JB's map for the section you mentioned, although I had not gone into that level of detail of analysis!
um, well, I study all info carefully because I like to write my own guides - that way I walk the camino twice :). and sometimes it proves useful, too. I always try to find the least tarmac route, even if it's longer. also, I don't mind taking a detour if something interesting (say, a fine romanesque portal of a tiny chapel somewhere, or an interesting prehistoric site) pops up.

I checked various trails on the wikiloc and it appears that pilgrims have taken different routes here, all more or less corresponding to the JB map. it probably depends on the time of the year (flooding or not), the type of maps/guides they carried, and if they were using/relying on the gps.
 

peregrino_tom

Active Member
Donating Member
#18
FWIW my very general three-ha'pence worth: Admittedly more than four years since I walked from Lisbon but in summary - I found the main challenges to be the dogs and the drivers. Having a stick was very useful and reassuring. The waymarking was fine except for a couple of times in the eucalyptus plantations and I got a bit confused along the river path out of Tomar, but not lost. The route between Santarem and Golega was pleasant and easy to follow and we were non-plussed by Brierley's call for vigilance. The last section is on the side of a long straight road into Golega (or was in 2012) but we were able to cross the ditch and walk on the edge of the fields which had recently been harvested. Maybe there's a better option now. No need to fall back on your GPS here, but rather engage with the Portuguese people who I found to be incredibly open, friendly and helpful. Bom Caminho!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aumont-Aubrac to Conques (2016); Santarem to Coimbra; Tui to SdC (2017)
#19
FWIW my very general three-ha'pence worth: Admittedly more than four years since I walked from Lisbon but in summary - I found the main challenges to be the dogs and the drivers. Having a stick was very useful and reassuring.
Thanks for your reassurance about navigation. I really enjoyed engaging with the locals when I was doing the Le Puy route because I could communicate with them in their language. Not so in Portugal though! The dogs seem to be a real worry. I shall start a new thread to seek advice in that regard!
 

peregrino_tom

Active Member
Donating Member
#20
Thanks for your reassurance about navigation. I really enjoyed engaging with the locals when I was doing the Le Puy route because I could communicate with them in their language. Not so in Portugal though! The dogs seem to be a real worry. I shall start a new thread to seek advice in that regard!
Hi rgutena - a lot of the older generation in Portugal worked and lived in France in the 1960s-80s and then returned home. So you'll find a lot of the older folk have some french, while many of the youngsters I encountered started speaking to me in English before I'd even opened my mouth.
I found the dogs to be more aggressive than in Spain. But aggression can create the perception of danger which is actually rarely there, but it's tiring nonetheless! A stick or walking pole is respected, so just take one with you and you're sorted.
 
#21
after a bit more studying I came up with this:
Hi
Currently doing the Caminho Português and regarding the Camino before Azinhaga I just say: take the green route. I took the yellow until Pombalinho and then by road to Azinhaga. I can't understand why the arrows send us in a big detour mainly by tarmac. It added 4 km easy. For me it was much harder than to get to Santarém.
The arrows in the tiles take you through a bigger detour - see the picture enclosed.
After Quinta da Broa I took the alternative that avoids N365 - it's called estrada dos lázaros and it was ok, no shade, small road in tarmac but with shoulder in dirt, almost no traffic at all.
20170716_075906.jpg
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Aumont-Aubrac to Conques (2016); Santarem to Coimbra; Tui to SdC (2017)
#22
Hi
I took the yellow until Pombalinho and then by road to Azinhaga. I can't understand why the arrows send us in a big detour mainly by tarmac. It added 4 km easy.
View attachment 35016
When I was doing this stretch of the Camino Portugues in May, I followed the arrows religiously. Before I knew it, I was already on the big detour on tarmac and completely missed the green route. As soon as I passed Pombalinho, I ignored the arrows and followed my GPS to get to the albergue.

On the other hand, I didn't find the traffic and dogs threatening at all. Perhaps I had been warned enough about these hazards before I set off, and was therefore mentally prepared.
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil
Camino(s) past & future
.
#23
Hi
Currently doing the Caminho Português and regarding the Camino before Azinhaga I just say: take the green route. I took the yellow until Pombalinho and then by road to Azinhaga. I can't understand why the arrows send us in a big detour mainly by tarmac. It added 4 km easy. For me it was much harder than to get to Santarém.
The arrows in the tiles take you through a bigger detour - see the picture enclosed.
After Quinta da Broa I took the alternative that avoids N365 - it's called estrada dos lázaros and it was ok, no shade, small road in tarmac but with shoulder in dirt, almost no traffic at all.
View attachment 35016
The detour around Pombalinho and Azinhaga had to do -in 2013-with a disagreement between two councils. So was decided to lead the caminho by the asphalt roads around Pombalinho and not through the village center of Azinhaga.
Later on people from Azinhaga reclaimed the caminho through their center.
So now you can see two kinds of waymarked routes.
But what is the problem. ? When you aproach Azinhaga ,forget the waymarkers and walk ahead the skyline of the village and have a drink or something to eat in the center and continue your walk and pick up the waymarkers to Golegã north of the village.
 

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