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Norte this April . . .

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
A plan is beginning to form. To return to the Norte this April, and to walk this time, not cycle, for a couple of weeks. This means we will take the ferry from Portsmouth probably to and from Santander and return to Gernika where we finished last October to walk from there.

So some requests for advice please!

Traveling from Santander back to Gernika - last year the train from Bilbao to Santander took a very long time (because it goes a very long way round!), and this time without the bikes I am thinking that coach would be better. Any ideas about where I can check routes, times etc? We'd arrive in Santander about midday and it would be great to get back to Gernika that evening and start next day.

A guide - we found Eric Walker's guide, while very complete, rather confusing, and noticed that other pilgrims had better ones, possibly in other languages. Can anyone suggest one which will complement Eric's? we can manage to read Spanish, French and probably German, but would struggle with Basque!!

Maps - as people may recall, I love maps. I did get the three Spanish IGN 1:50,000 (?) maps which cover the Ingles when we walked it and they added to my enjoyment very much. Would I be mad to get the same for the Norte - for as far as we are likely to need? Or are there any other maps, perhaps covering only the camino, which we could take?

Albergues and distances between. From Eric's guide it seems many albergues will not be open in April?

The perennial question of warmth in albergues and whether to bring sleeping bags. Peter who feels the cold most has been given a fleece sheet sleeping bag for Christmas.

Spring flowers? I would love to see Spring flowers - even in the rain!

thanks everyone

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Hi, Bridget,
I can help with a few of these things. I think the bus will require a transfer in Bilbao. There are frequent buses from Santander to Bilbao, on Alsa. Looks like it's 1 1/2 - 2 hours depending on the bus. They leave at 12:30, 1, 2, 3, 3:30, 4, 5, 6 pm. (you can get this information on Movelia.es or alsa.es websites).

From Bilbao to Gernika, it looks like it's a different bus company, BizkaiBus. Their website shows buses to Gernika from Bilbao on a half hour basis, Monday to Friday at least. It's only about 35 km so it won't be a long trip.

What I can't tell you is if the arrival in Bilbao on Alsa will be the same place as the departure stop for Gernika, but I think these things are usually pretty well organized in Spain.

When I walked in May 2007, we used the CSJ guide. There were times we were very greatful to be walking with Germans who had their incredibly up to date and very detailed guide. I'm sorry I can't tell you the title, though. In May, I had a lightweight sleeping bag and was occasionally cold, but I am what the Spaniards call "friolera" -- sounds like Peter may be also.

Hope this helps a bit. Lucky you, the Norte is drop dead gorgeous! Laurie
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I have just take a deep breath and booked the ferry crossings. Will arrive Santander on 8 April be walking from Gernika on Friday 9 April, and returning from Santander on Mon 26th.

For interest the cost (with reclining seats not cabin) of the ferry is just under £50 each each way - ie very much the same as the cheap flights. (The cabin would have added another £102 overall) We will take picnic food (ever the cheapskates) and reading material/guardian crosswords to pass the time. (Returning the same route last year I spent much of the time in very enjoyable multi-faith discussions with a fellow traveler)


Great to read your plans Bridget and Peter. We go by Brittany ferries too but in May (Plymouth to Santander). We actually booked a cabin by preference, and also plan to take some food to help ease the costs.
For any one thinking of these routes our understanding is that reclining seats are only released for booking once the cabins are all taken. Worth checking out though.
Buen Camino
Tio Tel and Tia Valeria
St James' Way - Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading to Southampton, 110 kms
Tia Valeria said:
For any one thinking of these routes our understanding is that reclining seats are only released for booking once the cabins are all taken. Worth checking out though.

That's what I thought too, based on previous experience. But I don't think so - I went through the booking process both ways to compare the prices and got as far as the check out each time! When we returned that route in October I noticed that people were sleeping on the reclining seats, even though the ferry clearly was not full! In fact I also noticed that people were sleeping stretched out on cushioned bench seats, without apparently being woken and sent elsewhere, so I am hoping to be able to find a comfortable and quiet sleeping nook somewhere!! £199 is a lot less that £290, I thought! (for two people, return journeys)

That is really good to hear.It always seemed a bit unfair that cabins had to be fully booked first. Perhaps that only applies to folk with cars and foot passengers can have recliners at anytime.
As we said our booking of a cabin is personal choice, but an unwelcome extra cost for others
Hi There,
I purchased the Seraphina Peregrina ebook and can highly recommend it. It is far more comprehensible than the Confraternity of St James booklets by Erik Walker and has some stunning photography! It is like a guide combined with a diary, and is well priced.
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!

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