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Not another "best time to do the camino" thread... starting SJPP late September

Camino(s) past & future
I plan to do my first Camino this year
#1
Hi all,

I am sorry to post another "whats the best time to travel" post... but I have spent hours over the past week researching this topic and keep coming up against conflicting opinions.

I am aiming to travel to Biarritz and then train to SJPP and start my Camino from there. Unfortunately I am unable to take many days off from work at one time so I am quite limited in how many days I can travel. Most likely I will only have 4-5 days.

I am trying to decide when in September to travel. I have read that at the start of the month it can be very crowded and busy and difficult to get beds. I want this trip to be relaxed and I don't want to feel like I am racing other pilgrims to get to towns early to get a bed!!

So I am leaning towards travelling over and starting from SJPP on Friday 21st September. However, other reports seem to suggest that the weather at the end of September is more unpredictable, more likely to be colder and wetter? I've also read that it can be almost too quiet at this time of year?!!

Ideally I would prefer to start Fri 21st September but not at the expense of bad weather and an isolated journey!! Could someone who is more experienced with the Camino at this time of year please offer some advice to clarify for me please??

Thanks very much :)
 

Geoff Shepherd

I’m the big fella on the left.
Camino(s) past & future
Sep/Oct/Nov 2018
#2
Hi all,

I am sorry to post another "whats the best time to travel" post... but I have spent hours over the past week researching this topic and keep coming up against conflicting opinions.

I am aiming to travel to Biarritz and then train to SJPP and start my Camino from there. Unfortunately I am unable to take many days off from work at one time so I am quite limited in how many days I can travel. Most likely I will only have 4-5 days.

I am trying to decide when in September to travel. I have read that at the start of the month it can be very crowded and busy and difficult to get beds. I want this trip to be relaxed and I don't want to feel like I am racing other pilgrims to get to towns early to get a bed!!

So I am leaning towards travelling over and starting from SJPP on Friday 21st September. However, other reports seem to suggest that the weather at the end of September is more unpredictable, more likely to be colder and wetter? I've also read that it can be almost too quiet at this time of year?!!

Ideally I would prefer to start Fri 21st September but not at the expense of bad weather and an isolated journey!! Could someone who is more experienced with the Camino at this time of year please offer some advice to clarify for me please??

Thanks very much :)
I’m starting from St Jean 20Sep. First night just to Orisson. You can chat to me on the way. Cooee
 
Camino(s) past & future
I plan to do my first Camino this year
#3
Hi Geoff, Did you book to stay in Refuge Orisson already? I sent them an email a few weeks ago and haven't heard back so wasn't sure what the best way to get in contact with them would be?
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#4
I am sorry to post another "whats the best time to travel" post... but I have spent hours over the past week researching this topic and keep coming up against conflicting opinions.
That's one of the biggest problems with all but the most simple factual questions on here - there are lots of members and we all have different experiences and preferences and strengths and weaknesses. Often completely opposite poles :) Faced with a mass of conflicting opinion I try to work out which answers come from people whose outlook and previous experience are closest to my own and put more weight on their answers. But that is not always possible.

I've also read that it can be almost too quiet at this time of year?!!
Very subjective question. On my first Camino I met perhaps 30 other pilgrims between SJPDP and Santiago and spent probably half my nights alone in the refugios. In 20 days walking on the VdlP in the past year or so I met only 5 others. I far prefer that to the three-ring-circus of the Camino Frances these days. I walked the Camino Frances in late September and October 2016 and found many full albergues and rarely was out of sight of another pilgrim for more than five minutes or so while walking. That was more than enough company for me.
 

Geoff Shepherd

I’m the big fella on the left.
Camino(s) past & future
Sep/Oct/Nov 2018
#5
Hi Geoff, Did you book to stay in Refuge Orisson already? I sent them an email a few weeks ago and haven't heard back so wasn't sure what the best way to get in contact with them would be?
Yes I did - I think so anyway! I am currently away from home overseas and I do not have all my Camino planning documentation with me. But thanks for reminding me to check when I get back home end-Jul. Aug and Sep until I leave for St Jean is my ‘time to focus on the details’ time. I accept that I have over planned - too long in the military I expect. Have also booked at Ronescevalles - must check that also. Hoping we meet on the Way. Cooee
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#6
There are a lot of variables. People's preferences are different - for tolerating temperature, sunlight, crowds, solitude etc. Some want to coincide with festivals, others to walk without seeing a soul.
It seems the weather itself can vary a lot from year to year as well.
The autumn I walked (Sept 2016) was very hot, cooled a little as we walked but was a lot hotter than the website averages indicated.
The same happened in Spring/summer last year- we got a heat wave, yet this year appears to have been colder and wetter.
Next year I intend to walk again on almost the exact dates you are considering, based on my experience of my last autumn Camino. If its similar it will be perfect. If not, well I will wear my poncho and actually use my sleeping bag rather than just carry it.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#8
When we started in 2015 from SJPD on a Friday about the same time you are preposing it was a zoo when we arrived in Roncevalles. If you decide to go from SJPD make sure you have reservations in Roncevalles. I wanted to go the Napoleonic route but when I tried to book Orrison (tried in mid July for Sept.) it was already full. Therefore we traveled the route via Valcarlos. If you could leave a little later it might be better...early October. Or, if you left, perhaps midweek from St. Jean. Another option would be to start elsewhere. You might start in Leon or Astorga and go up over Cruz de Ferro to Ponferrada or-even as far as O’Cebriero if you are 30km per day pilgrim.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#9
I started on Sept 24 back in 2015. The weather was superb. I don’t remember running into rain until the Meseta. Just a couple days prior to the 24th though it was quite stormy over the Pyrenees, so as with weather everywhere, you just never know for sure.

I wouldn’t say it was quiet walking then, but neither was it overcrowded. I showed up at Roncesvalles without a reservation and got a bed. I did make a reservation at Beilari in SJPDP, which I would recommend.
 

truenorthpilgrim

"Adventure is Worthwhile" - Aesop
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances (2016)
C. Finesterre (2016)
#10
Hi all,

I am sorry to post another "whats the best time to travel" post... but I have spent hours over the past week researching this topic and keep coming up against conflicting opinions.

I am aiming to travel to Biarritz and then train to SJPP and start my Camino from there. Unfortunately I am unable to take many days off from work at one time so I am quite limited in how many days I can travel. Most likely I will only have 4-5 days.

I am trying to decide when in September to travel. I have read that at the start of the month it can be very crowded and busy and difficult to get beds. I want this trip to be relaxed and I don't want to feel like I am racing other pilgrims to get to towns early to get a bed!!

So I am leaning towards travelling over and starting from SJPP on Friday 21st September. However, other reports seem to suggest that the weather at the end of September is more unpredictable, more likely to be colder and wetter? I've also read that it can be almost too quiet at this time of year?!!

Ideally I would prefer to start Fri 21st September but not at the expense of bad weather and an isolated journey!! Could someone who is more experienced with the Camino at this time of year please offer some advice to clarify for me please??

Thanks very much :)
t
That is precisely when I started my camino in 2016 and it was perfect. A bit crowded at first but always founds beds to sleep in. The weather was very warm to begin with, then turned cool and misty. Perfect time to start in my opinion! buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#11
I am quite limited in how many days I can travel. Most likely I will only have 4-5 days.
Do you have 4-5 days travel time outside your walking time, or do you have 4-5 days of walking time?
I've also read that it can be almost too quiet at this time of year?!!
I cannot imagine any place on the Camino Frances being "too quiet" at any time in September-early October. Where did you read this?
Could someone who is more experienced with the Camino at this time of year please offer some advice to clarify for me please??
There can be no clarification beyond what you and we already know - early September is very busy, late September is busy, early October still has plenty of people, and the weather cools down as we move into the autumn. It is always unpredictable and we cannot forecast it with any degree of certainty.

Personally, I have really enjoyed my October caminos. The weather was great until Galicia and even then, some rain was part of the experience.

You are probably overthinking this! I'd recommend going later in September.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015 Frances, 2017 Frances, (2019 ???)
#12
Have walked in both '15 and'17. Started on the 22cnd and 26th of Sept respectively. '15 over the mountains, busy,, but not grotesquely so. Plenty of spots of solitude. '17 'under' the mountain' stayed the night in Val Carlos (sp?) and had the alberghue all to myself. Slept until 10:30 the next morning. Miracles do happen!!!

Since I don't know your fitness level, or your motivation for walking my suggestion would be to head for Pamplona. They have bus, train, and plane service to help get you back to wherever you need to get back to. The next stop is Puenta La Reina. The climb up the hill of Perdon and down the other side can be interesting so Pamplona is a good destination. If you get there with time to spare it's a great city to hang out in. I'm one who encourages enjoyment on the Camino, and in the rest of your life as well, so a forced march and rushing back to your job I don't understand.

Also, I remember staying at the Jesus y Maria alberghue ('15) and the next morning hearing that they were not filling up and were letting pilgrims know that they could stay a second night if they wished. Worth asking if it applies.

A thought. If you are at all intimidated by the Pyernees, either the climb or time factor, you could start the traditional Spanish way and begin in Roncessvilles.

Oh yes the weather. Who really knows??? '15 was a little overcast to Orrison and the next day was spectacular!!! Clear, blue skies. A handful of white puffy cumulus floating over the mountaintops. One postcard after another.
'17 I arrived in SJPP about 1pm and took the lower route or winter route. Easier, but make sure you have a hi-viz yellow pack cover (blaze orange my 2cnd choice). There is some road walking and they are rife with turns and twists and you do want to announce yourself. Also, pay attention to the road noises behind you. The day I walked it was drizzling off and on then the sun would appear then a rainbow. Quite nice. Next day sunny and pleasant. And both years the rest of the way to Pamplona was sunny and pleasant.

Peace be with you.

Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
April/May 2018
#13
Hi all,

I am sorry to post another "whats the best time to travel" post... but I have spent hours over the past week researching this topic and keep coming up against conflicting opinions.

I am aiming to travel to Biarritz and then train to SJPP and start my Camino from there. Unfortunately I am unable to take many days off from work at one time so I am quite limited in how many days I can travel. Most likely I will only have 4-5 days.

I am trying to decide when in September to travel. I have read that at the start of the month it can be very crowded and busy and difficult to get beds. I want this trip to be relaxed and I don't want to feel like I am racing other pilgrims to get to towns early to get a bed!!

So I am leaning towards travelling over and starting from SJPP on Friday 21st September. However, other reports seem to suggest that the weather at the end of September is more unpredictable, more likely to be colder and wetter? I've also read that it can be almost too quiet at this time of year?!!

Ideally I would prefer to start Fri 21st September but not at the expense of bad weather and an isolated journey!! Could someone who is more experienced with the Camino at this time of year please offer some advice to clarify for me please??

Thanks very much :)
I'm starting my first Camino from SJPP on Sat 22 September so was very interested in your post and the responses to it. Like yourself I too pondered long and hard about the ideal time to start. It ended up being Sept 22. I believe that part of the 'fun' of doing the Camino will be adapting to whatever it is that we will encounter whilst doing it - and none of us can know that in advance. Personally I hope the weather will be fine but not too warm most of the time and in particular on Day 1. I'm rather looking forward to making the acquaintance of other pilgrims, but not too many. One issue that worries more than any other is attending to the calls of nature if there are crowds and crowds of pilgrims around on the trail. Drinking lots of water is to be highly recommended but what goes in must come back out again - in my case about 45 mins after intake. I'm sure I'll figure it out if I have to.

Buen Camino.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#14
It is a transaction. You can have "good" weather...or a "quiet" Camino.
Both are subjective...I really don´t like walking in sunny, hot days; and I appreciate loneliness, but don't object to share the Camino with other pilgrims, provided that we are not bumping into each other.
As reference, this photo was taken September 22th, between SJPP and Roncesvalles. It was sunny and cold. Many forum members will recognize this distinctive hill in the background. 1534541917126.png
 

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