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Question about Terrain

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hello, I will be walking the Via de la Plata in 2006. I have done a lot of reading about this Camino and have several unanswered questions:

-- Is a lot of the path along the side of roads/highways, or are you usually off road on paths? My main concern is the amount of time I will have to walk on pavement.

-- I have seen several mentions of walker encounters with "vacas bravas" , wild pigs, and even bulls. I am hoping that this is one of those myths that just doesn't die, sort of like the myth about all the wild dogs of Galicia. Can anyone corroborate or de-bunk this?

-- I see the Via de la Plata breaks off into two, so the decision is between Ourense and Astorga, and I saw another instance in which there were two short parallel routes in Galicia that separated and then rejoined. Any experiences on the differences among these choices?
 
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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Via de la Plata

If you contact me at

sillydoll(at)gmail.com

I will send you s short diary written by a pilgrim last year.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Is a lot of the path along the side of roads/highways, or are you usually off road on paths? My main concern is the amount of time I will have to walk on pavement.

They have made a lot of effort to avoid long stretches of highway walking, sometimes at the expense of extra kms and long days. There will be some highway walking however and except near towns this is on quiet roads.

I have seen several mentions of walker encounters with "vacas bravas" , wild pigs, and even bulls. I am hoping that this is one of those myths that just doesn't die, sort of like the myth about all the wild dogs of Galicia. Can anyone corroborate or de-bunk this?

Wild bulls ie fighting bulls - No. These are kept well fenced away from any possible contact with walkers. Other farm animals yes, sections pass through fields and you will come into contact with whatever is in the field. If you are used to walking in the country this is the same as at home.
Wild boar though they do exist in rural upland Spain are very timid animals (unless cornered) trying to avoid contact with humans and as unlikely to be seen on the VdlP as the Camino Frances. Dogs are probably less used to walkers on the VdlP than the Camino Frances but we did not have any problems with them.

I see the Via de la Plata breaks off into two, so the decision is between Ourense and Astorga, and I saw another instance in which there were two short parallel routes in Galicia that separated and then rejoined. Any experiences on the differences among these choices?

The VdlP splits first at Zamora where there is a little used branch via Braganza in North Portugal. The more commonly used route is via Pueblo de Sanabria and Ourense the turn to the left is shortly after Zamora (on this route there are alternatives via Verin or Laza). Alternatively you can stay on the Ruta de la Plata (a Roman road which went up to Gijon) as far as Astorga and join the camnio Frances there.

Buen Camino
William
 
The alcalde in Astorga is currently leading a campaign to stop people from misusing the term Via de la Plata which, strictly speaking, refers to the 'paved road', i.e. Roman road (nothing to do with silver), from Merida to Astorga (Iter ab Emérita Astvricam), later from Seville. The last I heard he was even threatening the Galician Xunta with legal action!

This road was and remains the main N-S route in W Spain, and so pilgrims from the south will have used it to get to Santiago. Many will have turned off at Zamora to use the direct route via Ourense, which to avoid confusion is better called the Camino Sanabres. This route is the modern main road/rail link from Santiago to central Castille and Madrid. Others will have continued on to Astorga, or even further north to the important shrine in Oviedo.

The main advantage of the Sanabres is that you avoid the crowds on the Camino Frances. The mountain section however is sparsely populated so there's not much in the way of facilities, and limited accommodation. In terms of distance, there's not much in it.

Numbers on the Sanabres route are increasing, but when you examine the stats a little more closely, you find most of them start in Ourense, which is conveniently just over the 100km from Santiago.

To confuse naming matters even more, the Sanabres route is sometimes promoted as an extension of the Camino de Levante (another misnomer, as more or less by definition a route in the west cannot be 'levante'). Some people also use the term Camino Fonseca, for the route between Salamanca and Santiago. And of course the VdlP is also known as the Camino Mozarabe.
 

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