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Pavement on El Camino Del Norte

henryw2536

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Del Norte (2016)
Hi all,
My older brother (20) and I (17) plan to walk el camino del norte this summer starting early June. We both prefer less traffic and more nature so we decided on the northern route. I just read this post http://christine-on-big-trip.blogspot.com/2012/09/camino-del-norte-conclusion-and-tips.html and she says that el camino del norte was the worst of them all. Is this true? Is it 75% pavement? Or is she just a negative person?

"Before leaving Santander I wanted to go shopping - and ran into the usual problem. All shops were closed because of a local fiesta. The same had already happened in San Sebastian, Bilbao and now Santander. There seem to be a lot of fiestas in Spain... Hiking a whole day through ugly suburbs and industrial areas if another common problem on the Camino and of course hiking out of Santander was not much different. I am getting rather annoyed of this. To make things worse I had to follow the coastal motorway a lot of times which complicated camping."

"The Camino del Norte has been the worst bit of hiking on this trip and had made it difficult to stay motivated."

Should we plan on a different route?
Thanks a lot,
Henry
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
I'm sure you and your brother will love the Norte. My reasons for not putting it high in my Camino ratings were mainly because I was not fit enough for that first hard week out of Irun.(66yrs then) .Very beautiful scenery though,especially the Alpinista route.
Too much road walking for my feet but I don't remember too much along busy highways. We walked to Oviedo and I then bussed to Leon to join the Frances.
I would say more positive than negative with some great pilgrims along the way.
Enjoy your walk and if your heart is set on the Norte just do it!
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
This was a very negative blog. There are sections of any Camino where the way goes through industrial sections and some road walking too. The Norte has many beautiful tracks and scenery. Don't be put off. If you check out other blogs you will see that some people take transport for short distances if really wanting to avoid the industrialised parts, others prefer to walk them as part of the Camino as a whole. Starting in Santander we took the cercania out to Barreda to avoid the industrial section which Terry walked on his previous camino - the right choice for that time. Your Camino, your choice :).
 

spursfan

Veteran Member
Certainly there a fair number of roads along the way (but lots of them are pretty quiet since the new expressways are ofthen close by) - but often the camino takes a path close to the road - and there are many times when the side of the road will have asofter surface - so please don't be put off
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
Hi all,
My older brother (20) and I (17) plan to walk el camino del norte this summer starting early June. We both prefer less traffic and more nature so we decided on the northern route. I just read this post http://christine-on-big-trip.blogspot.com/2012/09/camino-del-norte-conclusion-and-tips.html and she says that el camino del norte was the worst of them all. Is this true? Is it 75% pavement? Or is she just a negative person

Should we plan on a different route?
Thanks a lot,
Henry

Hi Henry,
That "blog" has been commented on before on the forum. I think she is a long distance trail walker with expectations of an isolated hike across country! Have a look here:- https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...te-75-abreast-of-motorways.34144/#post-310525

Blessings
Tio Tel
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
We've seen this before -- wilderness hikers are not likely to enjoy any camino, except maybe parts of the Salvador and the Vadiense. I haven't read the blog mentioned here, but I'm glad that this forum is a big enough tent to get those opinions out there as well. Maybe we can save other wilderness hikers from their inevitable disappointments. Even if you love walking the Camino, though, I think it's good to be prepared for some of these potentially camino-ending stretches of asphalt.

I walked the Norte a decade ago and there was a LOT of pavement walking. I don't know if some of that has been re-routed, but it was tough on my feet and legs. More recently, I walked from Santander to San Vicente de la Barquera where I turned off for the Vadiniense, and my body was acutely aware that those four days are almost entirely on pavement. This can wreak havoc on your shins, and I think it's probaby the biggest cause of tendonitis among camino walkers.

I agree that the Norte has a lot of jaw-dropping scenery, but it is not remote wilderness (and I'm very thankful for that, actually!). Buen camino, Laurie
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
That is unbelievable. "Ugly scenery. Disappointing coast line". For God's sake. So this is ugly scenery? And this is disappointing coast line?
Of course during the 800 km walk throughout the entire country there will be different parts, but she just concentrated on the negatives.
As for the walking on hard surface, in the summer I suggest bringing regular running shoes ("trainers", "sneakers") instead of hiking boots, or even good sandals like Teva. It gets hot in Spain. Buen Camino!
LOVE that picture of the flysche! Just stunning.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
I have only done San Sebastian to Llanes, and had to bus onwards to shorten my days starting in Santillana due to plantar fasciitis. Did I develop it because of the road walking? Maybe. And yes, there is quite a bit of hard surface walking, but that in my mind does not equate with "road side walking" as is walking in traffic, or along major highways. It can be walking on small roads, rarely encoutering a car. So please don't like defeat you.

The view of the coast oar beautiful, the opportunities to walk on beaches, spend the afternoon on a beach after a day's walk. Take a ferry here and there, and .... Drumroll..... Stupendous menus del dia for about 10€. Your brother can try Txacoli, the local sparkling wine and Vermud solera, vermouth aged by the different bars. In Llanes, do not mis the Carbayon pastry. The pote asturiano, a sturdy soup that will give you all the energy you need to keep walking.

Interesting cities to visit here and there: San Sebastian, Guernika, Bilbao, Santander, Santillana del mar. With important architechture and other cultural points: the Gugenheim in Bilbao, the Collegiata, the rest of the town and the Altamira cave in Santillana, the Gaudi Capricho and the University in Comillas.

And when you reach Oviedo you can opt to take the .... Ooops, forget that, that other route has to remain a secret so itdoesn't get invaded ;).

In comparison, in my opinion, the Frances is much more monotonous, after Pamplona, though still pretty with it's rolling fields of wheat, poppies, wineries. The pilgrim menu will get old fast. Buy you will meet many more people your age, and English speaking, on the Frances. And I really find it difficult to walk along its tractor tracks, prefering flat footing.

Either way you will enjoy yourselves and will want to come back to explore the route you did not take.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi all,
My older brother (20) and I (17) plan to walk el camino del norte this summer starting early June. We both prefer less traffic and more nature so we decided on the northern route. I just read this post http://christine-on-big-trip.blogspot.com/2012/09/camino-del-norte-conclusion-and-tips.html and she says that el camino del norte was the worst of them all. Is this true? Is it 75% pavement? Or is she just a negative person?

"Before leaving Santander I wanted to go shopping - and ran into the usual problem. All shops were closed because of a local fiesta. The same had already happened in San Sebastian, Bilbao and now Santander. There seem to be a lot of fiestas in Spain... Hiking a whole day through ugly suburbs and industrial areas if another common problem on the Camino and of course hiking out of Santander was not much different. I am getting rather annoyed of this. To make things worse I had to follow the coastal motorway a lot of times which complicated camping."

"The Camino del Norte has been the worst bit of hiking on this trip and had made it difficult to stay motivated."

Should we plan on a different route?
Thanks a lot,
Henry

Henry:

If you are looking for a wilderness hike, I am not sure any of the Camino's are for you. The most popular Camino's are infrastructure rich (ie: accommodations, food, water, Architecture, History, etc.) If you are looking for a great walk along the Northern coast of Spain, the Norte is your walk. There is quite a bit of hard pan walking. There are also lots of alternate routes to avoid some of this (Check Gronze.com and Eroski sites for deviations and the E-9 intersects the route frequently. The only industrial parts I remember are the walk between Bilbao and Portugalete along the River/Canal and the area between Gijon and Aviles. I loved this walk.

It depends on what you are looking for in a walk. I am sure a couple of young men will enjoy a walk along the seaside of Spain during the Summer.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
Last edited:

pipello

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Camino del Norte, and the Camino Portuguese (May, 2018)
My husband and I plan to bring our folding bicycles to Spain in June and cycle along El Norte. We are not mountain bikers so the notion of hard surface appeals. We have walked the Camino Francés and were concerned that the distances between services on El Norte would be too far for us to comfortably walk. We are both 69 years young. We prefer small country roads and also we don't want to interfere with peregrinos who are walking. Any advice. Are we on the right track?
 
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A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
My husband and I plan to bring our folding bicycles to Spain in June and cycle along El Norte. We are not mountain bikers so the notion of hard surface appeals. We have walked the Camino Francés and were concerned that the distances between services on El Norte would be too far for us to comfortably walk. We are both 69 years young. We prefer small country roads and also we don't want to interfere with peregrinos who are walking. Any advice. Are we on the right track?
Buy a copy od the Editorial Buen Camino guide for the Norte. It shows detours for people on bicycles. And even if kt is in Spanish the maps will give you valuable information.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
The CSJ guides also give explicit cyclists routes where they differ from the walkers' route. You would need both guides A and B @£5 each. (The 'Caminos del Norte' @£4 is an overview not a guide.)
 

henryw2536

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Del Norte (2016)
Thanks everyone. You have all settled my mind and I am ready to go once again.

Also I should add that we aren't looking for a completely nature hike but one with the best views. I have been to San Vicente de la barquera and the scenery was tremendous.

I think I'll buy the plane tickets today. Can't wait
 

backpack45scb

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2001 CF, 04-6 LP, 07 Port, 08-10 Arles, 11 Mozá,12-13 Gen-LP. 00-10 PCT, 15 Norte, 16 Primi
We've seen this before -- wilderness hikers are not likely to enjoy any camino, except maybe parts of the Salvador and the Vadiense.
Please don't generalize about wilderness hikers. We are long distance hikers, and have done thousands of miles in remote wilderness, and love the camino journey. Other long distance hikers we know personally have had the same feeling. The strong, binding thing about the two experiences is the amazing people you meet on the way. They are the only ones who actually understand what it is/was like.

Re the Norte. My estimate is more like 80% paved surfaces, and that is harder on the body for a few weeks. After a while, though, you sometimes welcome those hard surfaces when stepping onto them from a steep rocky path. The mix of town and rural kept our interest.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Please don't generalize about wilderness hikers. We are long distance hikers, and have done thousands of miles in remote wilderness, and love the camino journey. Other long distance hikers we know personally have had the same feeling. The strong, binding thing about the two experiences is the amazing people you meet on the way. They are the only ones who actually understand what it is/was like.

Re the Norte. My estimate is more like 80% paved surfaces, and that is harder on the body for a few weeks. After a while, though, you sometimes welcome those hard surfaces when stepping onto them from a steep rocky path. The mix of town and rural kept our interest.

Sorry, what I meant to say is that people who are looking for a wilderness hike are not likely to enjoy any Camino. I certainly didn't mean to imply that people who enjoy wilderness walking can't enjoy anything else!
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
If you insist on anything: "the best views," "wilderness," "no asphalt," "mix of town and rural to keep your interest," then no matter what camino trail you walk, you're going to be disappointed. The Caminos are not designed for scenic adventure- tourist holidays. They are pilgrim paths, a means to an end. There's supposed to be some element of challenge.
 

pipello

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Camino del Norte, and the Camino Portuguese (May, 2018)
Buy a copy of the Editorial Buen Camino guide for the Norte. It shows detours for people on bicycles. And even if kt is in Spanish the maps will give you valuable information.
Thank you. We live in the U.S. so I suppose I can order them.
 

pipello

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Camino del Norte, and the Camino Portuguese (May, 2018)
The CSJ guides also give explicit cyclists routes where they differ from the walkers' route. You would need both guides A and B @£5 each. (The 'Caminos del Norte' @£4 is an overview not a guide.)

Thank you both. We live in the US so will have to order them.
 
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m00nman

Neil and Craig in Pontedueme - 2012
Year of past OR future Camino
Ingles (2012, 2019), Norte (Hendaya - Gernika, (2013, 2019), Ourense, (2014), Portugues Oct (2017).
Hi Henry, welcome to this Fantastic Forum where you will find all the knowledge in the world about the different Camino's! I walked from Irun to Gernika (approx 118K) in 2013 with my family over x5 days (kids were 14+11) and the only issue we had was the heat. We walked in July, not ideal of course, but holidays from school and work dictated that to us so we persevered!
I can't really comment on the amount of pavement the blogger experienced as we only made this small 5 day stretch but the parts we walked were certainly not 75% pavement...I just wanted to assure you that you should go with your choice of 'El Norte'...the start is amazing, the boat trip in Pasajes; San Sebastian a wonderful city you should spend time in; Zarautz so vibrant with surfers from around the world...and Markina / Xemein a real highlight for us as there were Basque games being displayed the day we arrived! There must have been 40-50 of us around the green in the main square watching in fascination!
You're honestly going to have such a fantastic time you'll not care what type of surface guides you to Santiago! You must let us know how you get on as I am hoping to complete 4-5 days from Gernika this summer and I believe from Bilbao through Portugalete there are some ugly industrial zones...but for most that's part of the journey and what makes it all so special! I'm not sure I would want my journey to have stages on public transport...though I am old enough now to know that the Camino throws up challenges and surprises every day so 'never say never'...'Nike' has the best slogan ever for any Peregrino including you and your big bro...JUST DO IT!

20130712_070102.jpg
 

henryw2536

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Del Norte (2016)
Hi Henry, welcome to this Fantastic Forum where you will find all the knowledge in the world about the different Camino's! I walked from Irun to Gernika (approx 118K) in 2013 with my family over x5 days (kids were 14+11) and the only issue we had was the heat. We walked in July, not ideal of course, but holidays from school and work dictated that to us so we persevered!
I can't really comment on the amount of pavement the blogger experienced as we only made this small 5 day stretch but the parts we walked were certainly not 75% pavement...I just wanted to assure you that you should go with your choice of 'El Norte'...the start is amazing, the boat trip in Pasajes; San Sebastian a wonderful city you should spend time in; Zarautz so vibrant with surfers from around the world...and Markina / Xemein a real highlight for us as there were Basque games being displayed the day we arrived! There must have been 40-50 of us around the green in the main square watching in fascination!
You're honestly going to have such a fantastic time you'll not care what type of surface guides you to Santiago! You must let us know how you get on as I am hoping to complete 4-5 days from Gernika this summer and I believe from Bilbao through Portugalete there are some ugly industrial zones...but for most that's part of the journey and what makes it all so special! I'm not sure I would want my journey to have stages on public transport...though I am old enough now to know that the Camino throws up challenges and surprises every day so 'never say never'...'Nike' has the best slogan ever for any Peregrino including you and your big bro...JUST DO IT!

View attachment 24221

Thanks for the info. I am super excited and just bought plane tickets the other day. We are giving ourselves a lot of time so we have the chance to explore the exceptionally cool towns along the way.

I'll post back to this thread after I've completed it with my own thoughts about the pavement. Either way I'm counting the days.
 

partyartie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte 2015, Portugese 2016
Hi Henry. I walked del Norte last April -May. 35 days from Irun to Santiago. You are young guys and I´m sure you will have
no problems at all. Maybe some "oldtimers" and a lady feel it too challenging. (I was 65). For sure there is asphalt. So, take care of your legs!
There are unbelievable paths too, a lot. I really don´t understand if somebody thinks that the shops and restaurants are just waiting
all day long if anyone happens to drop in. You are in a foreign country, they have their own habits and you should accept the fact.
So, make sure you have all you need in time.
I think that Christine (or whoever) was not on del Norte. Ok we all have bad days.
Before I started, during the winter, I read many stories about del Norte but when I got there I was disappointed. Any of those
could not describe this camino. It is amazing. I enjoyed every day and I still do.
Next May I´m starting the Portuguese and if it turns to be half as nice as del Norte it´s enough for me.

Have a nice camino!
 

Merger

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May-June 2014
Porto to Fisterra
We have 15 days to walk the Norte in May. We walk 30-40km per day. We want to go directly to Muxia, where should we start? We could fly into Santander but what would we do from there! Please give me some advice.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
We have 15 days to walk the Norte in May. We walk 30-40km per day. We want to go directly to Muxia, where should we start? We could fly into Santander but what would we do from there! Please give me some advice.
Take a look at the Eroski website and start planning.
 
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Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
You could start in Santander, or take the FEVE to Barreda, thus missing the industrial zone and saving a day or so too. Or you could take the FEVE further along to Ribadasella, it then turns down to Oviedo and north again to the Norte beyond Gijon where you could walk the further parts. Checking distances on Gronze might help to decide your starting place or parts to skip. I loved the walking between Barreda and Ribadasella, but then took the FEVE to walk to Covadonga.
 

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