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Options for Camino del Norte

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
I am seeking the sage advice of experienced pilgrims on the forum. I have walked CF, VDLP, and now have tickets booked for mid-April 2009 (Biarritz) to walk Camino del Norte. I have a partially healed knee injury and have read multiple posts and blogs about the first four mountainous days of the north route and I fear my knee won't make it past that point. I've come up with some options to doing all of the north route and its mountains. While I know there are mountains (or at least very steep hills) on all the routes, I wonder if you could comment on the viability of these options:

1. Take the bus from Irun to Bilbao and then walk the rest of the Norte.

2. Begin the Frances and walk to Leon, take the bus up to el Norte and walk the rest of that route.

3. Walk the Camino de Madrid (Madrid to Sahagun), walk to Leon, take the bus up to Norte and walk the rest of that route.

4. Walk the Camino de Madrid (Madrid to Valladolid), take the bus to Zamora on the VDLP and walk the rest of that route.

Thanks so much for your help - I'Im really just feeling the pull to walk another camino and I don't want to wait any longer!

Peace,

lynne
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
I would recommend No. 1 option.
By starting in Bilbao you'll enjoy the Norte and avoid the treacherous Irun-Bilbao portion.
Although the rest is not all that easy, it is manageable.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Mundicamino's website shows that the daily elevation gains on that first week into Bilbao range from 300 m to 500 m a day. There are days here and there after that with similar gains, but not on a daily basis. Whether that's treacherous or not depends on the individual walker and the condition of her knee! I wish you a speedy recovery, Lynne.

Others (most recently Kevin and Kari O'Brien on this forum, and Javier Martin is a big fan, too) report that the Camino de Madrid is very nice and has only one serious ascent over the mountains into Segovia. (You can check out the actual gains on Mundicamino again). But if you did that up to Sahagun, and got on the Norte in Gijon, you'd miss the absolutely beautiful part between Laredo and Villaviciosa. If my memory's not playing tricks on me, I remember that the most beautiful coastal walks were before Gijon. After that, it seemed that the coast got more jagged, so the paths didn't track the actual coast as much -- with a few exceptions, like before and after Tapia. But it's all very beautiful really.

If you do walk from Bilbao, you might want to consider forgetting the Bilbao to Portugalete segment and take the metro out to Portugalete (I believe that's the end of the line). Unless they've changed the routing, when we walked a couple of summers ago, the path took you through a very industrial part, with some pretty bad housing settlements nearby, through the dense, grey, urban suburb of Barracaldo, then along a river walk that was not particularly pretty and into Sestao. In Sestao the path takes you past an abandoned building that seems to have been reclaimed/appropriated by a large number of people, and it was not a pretty site. Lots of abandoned cars, kids playing in trash, and during the few minutes it took us to get around and out, we saw two or three fancy cars drive down for what we could only assume were drug deals, but maybe that's not what was going on. We didn't feel in any danger, but it would not be the ideal way to begin the Camino del Norte.

You've got a lot of good options here! Laurie
 

Paulus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (May 2005), Norte (May 2006), Vezelay (2007).
peregrina2000 said:
But if you did that up to Sahagun, and got on the Norte in Gijon, you'd miss the absolutely beautiful part between Laredo and Villaviciosa. If my memory's not playing tricks on me, I remember that the most beautiful coastal walks were before Gijon.

Yes, definitely.....It's great there!

peregrina2000 said:
If you do walk from Bilbao, you might want to consider forgetting the Bilbao to Portugalete segment and take the metro out to Portugalete (I believe that's the end of the line). Unless they've changed the routing, when we walked a couple of summers ago, the path took you through a very industrial part, with some pretty bad housing settlements nearby, through the dense, grey, urban suburb of Barracaldo, then along a river walk that was not particularly pretty and into Sestao. In Sestao the path takes you past an abandoned building that seems to have been reclaimed/appropriated by a large number of people, and it was not a pretty site. Lots of abandoned cars, kids playing in trash, and during the few minutes it took us to get around and out, we saw two or three fancy cars drive down for what we could only assume were drug deals, but maybe that's not what was going on. We didn't feel in any danger, but it would not be the ideal way to begin the Camino del Norte.

There's one option to avoid that routing: we took the other side of the river. Also not very beautiful but better than the other side! We also took the bus out of Bilbao to the border of the city (direction Portugalette).

Paul
Good luck with your choice!
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
MermaidLilli said:
Can you explain what is treacherous about the Irun to Bilbao section?
Thanks
Lillian

That section has some mean ascents and descents (very bad for the knees) that become very slippery when wet. I have seen many a pilgrim slip, fall and roll, hence the treacherousness.
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
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
What about cycling the Norte? We have been feeling inclined to take that Way when we reach Spain via the Vezelay route. Obviously there will be plenty of uphill pushes at the beginning, I see from postings above. What else should be be aware of? Is there anyone's blog of cycling the Norte?
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Thanks very much for your responses. It's exactly this kind of interest and response that reaffirms my faith in the pilgrims that walk all of the ways of the camino, and the spirit that binds us all. Your expertise and advice is much appreciated. Very soon, I'll post our plans for our camino in April.
Gracias,

lynne
 

Javier Martin

Veteran Member
lynnejohn said:
1. Take the bus from Irun to Bilbao and then walk the rest of the Norte.

2. Begin the Frances and walk to Leon, take the bus up to el Norte and walk the rest of that route.

3. Walk the Camino de Madrid (Madrid to Sahagun), walk to Leon, take the bus up to Norte and walk the rest of that route.

4. Walk the Camino de Madrid (Madrid to Valladolid), take the bus to Zamora on the VDLP and walk the rest of that route.

lynne

In my opinion:

1) To miss Irun-Bilbao is not a good idea, is simply incredible!! Not very high hills, always up and down but not really difficult in my opinion.

2) Bus to the Norte? ¿where? ¿Why not walking el Salvador to Oviedo?

I suggest to you a 5th option: From Toledo, the Camino del Sureste and then VDLP the rest of that route. Toledo-Avila is very nice, with beautiful mountains and good albergues and people: Noves, Gotarrendura. Something special, I'm thinking of walking it soon...

Buen Camino, whatever you choose to walk...

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

surfingelvis

New Member
Just walk the camino from Irun as normal, just go steady and see how it goes , you can always have rest days or get the bus on some days.. it would be a shame to miss any when it may all be ok . there are no mountains on the camino and a hill would be no different than walking on flat ground if you went slow and rest plenty, buen camino perigrino
 

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