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Pros & Contras of Camino de Invierno vs Frances

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo (2017), Norte (2017), Frances (2017), Portugues (2018), La Plata (2018)
#1
Hi!!

I will need to inform pilgrims about the pros & contras of Invierno vs Frances and I have never walked the Camino de Invierno and I would appreciate a lot your help with this!!

If you were in Ponferrada, in May, and a pilgrim asks you about the advantages / disadvantages of taking Invierno, what would you say?

From what I saw, it seems that in Winter there are quite fewer pilgrims, it will be a little more expensive due to the lack of albergues (average 20/25 Euro / day for accommodation), Winter is about 60 km longer than Frances .... and that's all I know. Do you have any other clues to help the pilgrim make a decision?

If the pilgrim finally decide to take Invierno, any important advice?

If the pilgrim finally decides to take Invierno: Do you have any important advice? Alternative caminos? Places you can't miss? etc.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#2
You are correct. To your assumption that:

1. The Invierno has LOTS of ups and downs. None are too long, but ALL are challenging,

2. Their are NO cafes or bars between most starting & ending places on the Invierno,

3. Finding sellos between stopping places is like a scavenger hunt. It is very difficult and after Monforte de Lemos, the ‘official’ final starting point if you want a Compostela, in becomes very frustrating,

4. The Camino Invierno was the most scenic route I have done yet.

Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo (2017), Norte (2017), Frances (2017), Portugues (2018), La Plata (2018)
#3
Tnx!!

I take notes and I will inform in that direction!!

I would really love to walk that! I love primitivo ... and for what you are telling me, I will love Invierno!! :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
#5
Except for the climb up to Cornatel castle I did not find the ups so challenging.
You can avoid that by taking the highway and walk the road up to the castle or drop it if it it closed when you arrive, it is closed by 2pm.
From Belesar up to Chantada is quite ok to take the road, down from Diomondi was not as bad as the guide says, good path, not so steep.
Up to Alto de Faro I walked in thick fog but it was not very steep either up or down.
Best of all, no crowds, did not really meet anybody except for some guys for breakfast in Rodeiro, until I joined the Sanabres, but no queue there either.
 

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MikeJS

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (2012), VdlP (Apr 2016). Sureste/Invierno (Apr/May 2017).
#6
I have walked the Norte, Frances, VdlP and Sureste and I found the invierno the most challenging and that was after having already walked for about 4 weeks so I was very camino fit. This is an extract from my blog for the first day of my Invierno - Ponferrada to Puente de Domingo Florez 35kms. “Route was easy to follow thereafter without any problems. That said it was a tough day. The extra few kms didn't help but the tough bit was the ups and downs. Given how long I've been walking this time I am fairly fit and like 40 plus days. Had to go up 300m and down again twice, plus another climb up of 300m and then down 400m and that climb down was long and hard. Would hate to do it in the wet, but more importantly, I would hate to try it without a good few days ( or weeks) on the Camino first!
 
#7
I have walked the Norte, Frances, VdlP and Sureste and I found the invierno the most challenging and that was after having already walked for about 4 weeks so I was very camino fit. This is an extract from my blog for the first day of my Invierno - Ponferrada to Puente de Domingo Florez 35kms. “Route was easy to follow thereafter without any problems. That said it was a tough day. The extra few kms didn't help but the tough bit was the ups and downs. Given how long I've been walking this time I am fairly fit and like 40 plus days. Had to go up 300m and down again twice, plus another climb up of 300m and then down 400m and that climb down was long and hard. Would hate to do it in the wet, but more importantly, I would hate to try it without a good few days ( or weeks) on the Camino first!
I think this is very good advice Mike. I know a few forum members who found that first day to As Médulas from Ponferrada to be too much. And it also meant they were too tired to visit the site upon arrival. Spending the night that first day in Borrenes would mean that the first ascent and descent to/from Cornatel would be day 1 and then just the ascent to As Médulas on day 2. That would also give plenty of time for a visit to the castle on day 1, which is well worth it IMO, if only for the views. And for those who think the day from Borrenes is too short — there are lots of trails that take you around and up in As Médulas, along with an interesting interpretative center.

I know there are some peregrinos who do not like to combine “tourism” with “pilgrimage.” But for those who like to see the important historical and cultural sites we walk by, taking time to visit As Médulas is well worth it. Buen camino, Laurie
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#8
...
2. Their are NO cafes or bars between most starting & ending places on the Invierno,

3. Finding sellos between stopping places is like a scavenger hunt. It is very difficult and after Monforte de Lemos, the ‘official’ final starting point if you want a Compostela, in becomes very frustrating,

...
ad 2: Not true at all. There are bars and/or restaurants and/or shops/bakeries in at least half of the villages/towns on the Invierno. In fact there isn't a single stage (Gronze stages) on the Invierno without this kind of infrastructure.
Ask @Charrito ;)

ad 3: If you only collect sellos from the churches that might be true but you can get sellos at bars, post offices, museums etc. They might not be Camino designed but they are sellos.
 
#9
ad 2: Not true at all. There are bars and/or restaurants and/or shops/bakeries in at least half of the villages/towns on the Invierno. In fact there isn't a single stage (Gronze stages) on the Invierno without this kind of infrastructure.
Ask @Charrito ;)

ad 3: If you only collect sellos from the churches that might be true but you can get sellos at bars, post offices, museums etc. They might not be Camino designed but they are sellos.
Maybe the most accurate statement about bars would be to say that though there are bars and restaurants in towns on all Invierno stages, opening times may create a problem in some instances. Like you, Kinky, I have been lucky and have never had a problem.

AndI agree with Kinky about the sellos. There is no need to go hunting for an official sello, every bar, restaurant, tourist office, pharmacy, post office, etc etc has a stamp of some kind or another. They may not be the most gorgeous sellos around, but they are certainly valid.
 

MikeJS

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (2012), VdlP (Apr 2016). Sureste/Invierno (Apr/May 2017).
#11
With ref to bars and restaurants, I found very, very few open between my stages and most of my days I had no coffee stops from start to finish - not a problem for me as I am happy with water. More frustrating was trying to find somewhere decent to eat at the end of the day which served food before 2130!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
Portugués
Portugués Var. Esp.
Fisterra
Inglés
Invierno
Norte
Sanabrés
Primitivo
#12
With ref to bars and restaurants, I found very, very few open between my stages and most of my days I had no coffee stops from start to finish - not a problem for me as I am happy with water. More frustrating was trying to find somewhere decent to eat at the end of the day which served food before 2130!
It's always better to eat at lunchtime! I always plan on arriving at the end of the stage in time for a quick shower and then a meal, meaning that the afternoon can be spent chilling out/relaxing. In the evening you can then eat pinchos (what people tend to refer to as 'tapas') at a reasonable hour before hitting the sack.

Regarding infrastructure on the Camino de Invierno, as Laurie says you WILL find bars on most stages. However, they may well have funny opening times.

There certainly are some ups and downs, but I wouldn't say that they are that tough. The problem could well be the heat. Last year I really struggled from Borrenes to Las Médulas, as it was baking hot, I almost ran out of water, and I had found nowhere open (not even Café Bar Ronda in Santalla, or Bar Marisol in Borrenes). The Estrella Galicia en Camiño Real in Las Médulas went down really well, though, as did the Caldo Berciano later!
 

MikeJS

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (2012), VdlP (Apr 2016). Sureste/Invierno (Apr/May 2017).
#13
I normally walk about 35 to 40 kms a day so stopping is not really an option and I am not too keen on eating at ‘lunch time’ either! To be clear, I always found somewhere to eat even if it was only a supermarket picnic…
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#15
It's always better to eat at lunchtime! I always plan on arriving at the end of the stage in time for a quick shower and then a meal, meaning that the afternoon can be spent chilling out/relaxing. In the evening you can then eat pinchos (what people tend to refer to as 'tapas') at a reasonable hour before hitting the sack.
...
@Charrito - you're a weirdo. Eating in the afternoon??? :D

What about a beer??? Hehehehe...
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015. Levante, Avila-Toro & Sanabres, Ourense-Santiago
2017. Invierno & Oseira monastery
#17
I walked the Invierno solo in May/June last year, when I was 69, with an improvised detour to the Cistercian monastery at Oseira. I walked SHORT STAGES, aiming for less than 10 miles a day. I loved the solitude, the beauty, the shade, the birdsong, the up and down (I am a woman, and fairly fit, but not really athletic). Food and drink were there for me when I needed them. Don't miss Casa Solaina in A Rua; Asun and her mother and friends provide unbelievably caring hospitality. Or the Pazo dos Galegos, for a meal even if you choose not to stay there. The wine -- their own label -- is excellent, and the proprietor regaled me with stories about its connection to the rediscovery of the relics of St. James at Santiago de Compostela.

My stages were: Ponferrada to Borrenes; to As Medulas; to Sobradelo; to Puente de Domingo Flores; to Sobradelo; to O Barco; to A Rua (and the worst lightning storm of my life); to Soldon; to Quiroga; to A Pobra de Brollon; to Monforte de Lemos; to A Barxa; to Chantada; to Penasillas; to Rodeiro; to Oseira; to ?? (sorry, I can't remember right now); to Lalin/A Laxe; to Silleda; to Dornelas (a LOVELY private albergue); to Pazo dos Galegos (near Outeiro); to Santiago de Compostela.

I was wearing "barefoot" trailrunners, and could have used more cushion on the soles of my feet. Apart from that, I had a song in my heart the whole way. I've only walked about 40 miles on the Frances, and have no desire to do any more of it, because of the crowds and the tourism. I LOVE the Invierno. I could do it again, and again. And again.
 


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