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Public transport on Camino del Norte

Discussion in 'El Camino del Norte' started by Martin Daly, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. Martin Daly

    Martin Daly New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino del Norte (2018)
    Greetings all, and that you so much for this truly wounderful resource.

    I plan to walk the Camino del Norte from about the end of May this year. I will start in Irun and may branch off to the Primativo or I may continue along the coastal route. I am in no hurry and I intend to finish it.
    However, given my poor physical condition, I know that I will not be able to complete some of the more strenuous sections.
    If I am to complete the Camino, I will have to take public transport along those sections that will simply drain me if I attempt to walk them.
    Therefore, I would be most grateful if Forum members could give me an indication of the sections - or just parts of the Camino stages - that are considered to be the most physically demanding, and that might demand also that I take public tranport along them.
    With kind regards, and thanks.
    M
     
  2. Tia Valeria

    Tia Valeria Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
    C. Inglés 2011
    C. Primitivo '12
    Norte-C. de la Reina '13
    C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
    Much of the Camino del Norte is near to the FEVE narrow guage railway. Certainly from Santander there are 2 trains per day to Oviedo and from Llanes there are 4 daily and there are links to Gijon. (The railway also goes to Bilbao but I am not sure if that end runs near the Camino)
    Buses:- ALSA goes through some of the main towns, other areas have local buses (eg Santander to San Vicente de la Barquera is La Cantabrica).
    Taxi:- we always carried a forward taxi number, they are often advertised along the way and in accommodation.

    There is much less in the way of public transport on the Primitivo and a taxi is often the only option on the longest/steepest sections. No buses go between Grandas de Salime and A Fonsagrada (over the boundary between Asturias and Galicia) and it is a long day with some steep gradients. We took a taxi the last few kms. He came out from A Fonsagrada. For long distance collection they might charge both ways, but we were only charged for our journey. At the time 1€ per km was the going rate, but this might have changed.

    For maps and good clear profiles and also accommodation lists you could look at Gronze (Camino del Norte) and also Camino Primitivo. This should help you to see where there are challenging hills and also places that the Camino passes through which might have public transport.
    Buen Camino
     
    HedaP, peregrina2000 and t2andreo like this.
  3. t2andreo

    t2andreo Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Madrid: 2016
    Portuguese: 2015, 2017
    Voluntario: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
    Tia Valeria likes this.
  4. DragonShadow

    DragonShadow Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    For me, the first week on the Norte was the most difficult (Irun to Bilbao). The walk between Deba and and Markina was by far the hardest day but it was also beautiful. You might consider breaking that part of the walk into two days. I did not walk the Primativo, however a fellow pilgrim that I ran into towards the end of my walk did take that route. He said it more difficult than the Norte. The few times we found it necessary to take public transportation, there was almost always a bus or train to catch however their schedules may not work for you. In that case, taxis are the way to go.
     
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  5. Jan_D

    Jan_D Active Member Donating Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
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    Norte (2013, 2014)
    Hospitalera (2014)
    Portugues (2017)
    My mom unfortunately fractured her foot just before walking the Camino del Norte this September (while running to make her flight connection in London, doh!) and the idea was that she would catch public transport to meet me at the end of each day's walk. It ended up being a logistical nightmare, as the Alsa buses tend to travel the most direct routes between the the bigger towns (i.e. skipping the camino), and the Euskotren and Feve don't really coincide with the Camino path until you're in Asturias. We looked into using the small inter-pueblo buses between camino stops, but there weren't any timetables up anywhere (and according to locals some of them only run once per day, or on certain days of the week). However there are often stickers with taxis numbers in the bus stops, otherwise you could just pop into the nearest bar and ask someone.

    If you're looking for more of a 'hop on, hop off' option, the Feve train starts coinciding (more or less) with the Camino route from San Vicente de la Barquera onwards. Before this, you're in the Basque country, which can be very strenuous (although breathtakingly beautiful), and then in Cantabria, where the road-walking can be quite tiring, although it's not too physically challenging. I'm sure you'll enjoy it all, as long as you take it slow, listen to your body and take care of yourself when you need to.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 8:28 AM
    HedaP likes this.
  6. Northern Laurie

    Northern Laurie Member Donating Member

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    Deba to Markina was definitely the most difficult day early on. There aren't many (any?) options to break it into two stages. Total distance is 24km, with a climb to 300m, descent to 100m, and then another climb to 500m. Then, just when you are ready to plop over on the side of the road, a steep descent into town.

    BUT before your heart sinks into your boots.

    I managed to do it, and I certainly was not in very good shape. I could average about 2km/hr (including breaks), so the day was LONG. However, the day afterwards I was exhausted. I'd plan on either a very short day or an official rest day. I managed to find myself without an albergue and too exhausted to keep going - so I took public transit the last 10km into Guernika, and stayed there two nights.

    Google maps was useful sometimes, but often incomplete. The Alsa app was painful to use. The most useful thing - asking a local. Very helpful, particularly if you speak some Spanish. In some cases, people would take me by the hand.
     
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  7. pelerine

    pelerine Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I remember the end of the first stage from Irun before going down to Passaia the last stretch along the ridge went along an almost sheer drop on a narrow path where ropes used to be installed but were missing and I had to hold on to the metal rope supports. And generally going down to the Rias was always steep and of course steep as well coming up the other side.
    Going steeply down into Markina was very difficult because of the rain which made the path slippery. The rest of the Norte I do not remember as particularly difficult staying on the coast until Ribadeo and then going inland was alright too. However I did the Primitivo two years later and it was magnificent, but Campiello - Berducedo - Grandas de Salime was quite difficult; but I cannot give you any advice on how to go by public transport or taxi.
     
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  8. Northern Laurie

    Northern Laurie Member Donating Member

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    @pelerine , did you take the alternate route from Irun? I don’t remember steep drop offs, but I was daydreaming for part of the day! The descent into Passaia was eye opening , I didn’t think cars could drive on roads that steep! Until I saw one.

    I stayed in Passaia-I wouldn’t have made it to the next albergue I think.
     
  9. pelerine

    pelerine Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I stayed in Passaia, went to sleep on the bench in front of the closed little albergue while watching over other people's packs! That first stage was magnificent going all along that large ridge but for that last stretch. If the rope had been there I would not have found it difficult. I walked there in the summer of 2010. Maybe somebody can tell whether there is a rope now. I do not know of an alternate route, this was the only one my Spanish guide indicated.
     
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  10. DragonShadow

    DragonShadow Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    You most likely took the Alpinist route. It was a option for us as well but since a storm was supposed to blow through later that day, we decided to opt for the path that walked along a ridge of the mountain about 3/4's of the way up. As Northern Laurie indicated, I don't recall a particularly steep decent until we actually arrived in Passaia and then the road was an incline down into town. Like Laurie, we chose to spend the night in Passaia and walked to San Sebastian the next day.
     
  11. Colette Zaharie

    Colette Zaharie Happy Pilgrim Donating Member

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    Slovakia Camino Kosiče-Levoča Oct 2017
    Hi DragonShadow, what dates did you walk El Norte and how many days did you take? What footwear did you use most ? Did you stick to main route or take coastal routes? Lastly, someone here commented that 90% is asphalt, can you confirm or provide another estimate. Thank you.
     
  12. DragonShadow

    DragonShadow Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Let me start by saying that I can't speak for the Norte after Luarca. From there we took a bus to Oviedo to meet up with some friends for a couple of days and then decided to finish our walk on the Frances. It took us a full 6 weeks but also took close to a weeks worth of days off. I wore Vasque hiking boots and was glad I did. Many of the mountains that we climbed were rocky so good Vibram soles and walking sticks were a must for me. I can't say how much is asphalt but I certainly don't recall anywhere close to 90%. There was some road walking but the government is constantly working to reroute the trails off the roads and one day much of the walking was on a paved bike path. Up to Ribadeo a lot of the walk is along the coast. We deviated off the main route a few times to walk along the coast but there were a couple of days that were mostly inland. We also took public transportation to skip industrial areas which would have been mainly road walking. Hope this is helpful.
     
  13. Colette Zaharie

    Colette Zaharie Happy Pilgrim Donating Member

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    Slovakia Camino Kosiče-Levoča Oct 2017
    Thank you
     
  14. DragonShadow

    DragonShadow Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    The dates were Sep 13 - October 24th. Beautiful time of the year.
     

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