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Need input on Northern Route

Time of past OR future Camino
March 2023
We are starting our walk on the Northern Route on March 9th 2023. Based on time and what we would like to see, we have narrowed down our itinerary to three choices - we would love input from the community, especially regarding the weather. We have 24 days in total to walk.

Option 1: Walk San Sebastian to Bilbao; bus from Bilbao to Villaviciosa; Walk from Villaviciosa to Santiago

Option 2: Walk San Sebastian to Santander; bus from Santander to Pala de Allande; Walk from Pala de Allande to Santiago

Option 3: Walk San Sebastian to Santander; bus from Santander to Luarca; Walk from Luarca to Santiago

Much Love!
 
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My only advice is to stay on the coast as long as possible. When it comes to weather who knows!!!! Hopefully it will be cool and crisp in the morning and hopefully warmer but windier in the afternoon. When I walked from Irun starting in late October the weather was great and barely had any rain at all. It is all the luck of the cards. Buen Camino. One thing I loved to do is shop for my lunches almost every evening. Sardines, cheese, fruit bocadillos. Find a nice flat bolder overlooking the ocean and enjoy your lunch and the great ocean in front of you. Wonderful seafood at great prices (now I know everything is more money).
 
I walked in May and June and found it quite wet. I suspect March to be even more so. Don't expect to take many dips into the ocean. 🥶
 
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Given those 3 choices I would take #3. There is much beautiful coastal scenery between Bilbao and Santander that you would miss with Option1. Option 2 has you walking a part of the Primitivo. Why not save the entire Primitivo for another trip.
 
I did Irun to Bilbao and then took a bus to Oviedo and hiked the primitivo into SDC during April. In that way you get a taste of the Norte and can complete the Primitivo. Obviously, I can speak to anything west of Bilbao, but after a week or so on the Norte, I found it beautiful but lacking variety (i.e., walking the ridges of the coast, dropping into fishing villages, "wash and repeat", etc.). Also, a bit touristy in parts. I know that the Primitivo is not for everyone . . . but I preferred it.
 
Just to confuse your itinerary options, Irun to San Sebastion would be a fabulous add on.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I walked from Irun to Luarca, then took a train to Oviedo and walked the Primitivo in 2018. I am an acolyte of Magwood! I followed her suggestions to reduce road walking and maximize time spent along the sea on the Camino del Norte.
Based on my experience I would suggest walking Irun-Deba, then take public transport to Getxo to allow walking across the amazing hanging bridge there and continue walking the coast to at least Santander. I found beautiful stretches of beach and seaside views on unpaved walking trails all along the northern coast as far as I went. I do remember that my favorite part of the camino del Norte was the Purgatorio climb out of Irun for its shock value and spectacular views, and the string of amazing beaches from playa la Arena until almost to Gijon.
there are lots of options here depending on your priorities and limitations!
enjoy and buen Camino

PS: don’t overthink the whole thing, just put one foot in front of the other and repeat!
 
Just to confuse your itinerary options, Irun to San Sebastian would be a fabulous add on.
Two things
1) Irun to San Sebastian is my favourite leg of the Camino.

2) The 3 awe inspiring sites - Walking into Luarca; old town in Villaviscousa (but walking in and out is tough); and Santillana del Mar just the other side of Santander.

and now that I took so long to write this - David's point here is AMAZING
Based on my experience I would suggest walking Irun-Deba, then take public transport to Getxo to allow walking across the amazing hanging bridge there and continue walking the coast to at least Santander.
although I would do a day trip to Santillana del Mar before I left the coast in Santander.

Here is a great thread about coastal derivations from the Camino arrows along the Norte.

 
I walked in May and June and found it quite wet. I suspect March to be even more so. Don't expect to take many dips into the ocean. 🥶

I walked in a different May and had only 3 days of rain. ;-)
 
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My preference would be to do a continuous walk with no bus in between. I would probably start in San Sebastian and just keep walking until you have to get off the trail. And depending on your fitness level - you might even make it all the way to Santiago. I started in Hendaye/Irun and got to Santiago in 28 walking days - so you never know how far you will get. I switched to the Primitivo - and loved the Primitivo after walking along the coast.
 
For specifics about walking the camino del norte, I would really strongly suggest you check out Magwood‘s blog entries on walking the Camino del Norte in 2022, maximizing beach and seaside time


this lady is in my opinion the authority on this subject!
 
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but after a week or so on the Norte, I found it beautiful but lacking variety (i.e., walking the ridges of the coast, dropping into fishing villages, "wash and repeat", etc.). Also, a bit touristy in parts.
You definitely need to like sea views, beaches and seafood when you do the Norte. I do.

Liked it so much, I took the FEVE train back to the start so I could see it all again.
 
We are starting our walk on the Northern Route on March 9th 2023. Based on time and what we would like to see, we have narrowed down our itinerary to three choices - we would love input from the community, especially regarding the weather. We have 24 days in total to walk.

Option 1: Walk San Sebastian to Bilbao; bus from Bilbao to Villaviciosa; Walk from Villaviciosa to Santiago

Option 2: Walk San Sebastian to Santander; bus from Santander to Pala de Allande; Walk from Pala de Allande to Santiago

Option 3: Walk San Sebastian to Santander; bus from Santander to Luarca; Walk from Luarca to Santiago

Much Love!
Hmm. I can't tell you which to do. I walked the whole thing, loved all the towns. One question - why not start in Irun? The Irun to San Sebastian trail is one of the most spectacular (upper route).
 
We are starting our walk on the Northern Route on March 9th 2023. Based on time and what we would like to see, we have narrowed down our itinerary to three choices - we would love input from the community, especially regarding the weather. We have 24 days in total to walk.

Option 1: Walk San Sebastian to Bilbao; bus from Bilbao to Villaviciosa; Walk from Villaviciosa to Santiago

Option 2: Walk San Sebastian to Santander; bus from Santander to Pala de Allande; Walk from Pala de Allande to Santiago

Option 3: Walk San Sebastian to Santander; bus from Santander to Luarca; Walk from Luarca to Santiago

Much Love!
Buen Camino
 
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