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Question for those who have walked in Scotland

Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
Looking for advice from those that have walked in Scotland. I’m looking at the first day SJPdP to Roncesvalles and was wondering how it would compare to walks or Munro’s from what I can see it appears similar to Ben Nevis in height but at an easier gradient, would that be a fair summation? making it more of a long hill walk rather than a stiff mountain climb. tia 👍
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I first read the original post as a request to find a mountain in Scotland with a similar gradient that could be used to train on. That would have made my first post useful. If the intent though was to find how how difficult it would be to walk the Route Napoleon then watch this video. It is a speeded up version of the walk. Warning: this walk was done by a very experienced mountain hiker. Mere mortals may need some rest stops (I took the valley way myself).

Youtube video id: kLMyWudsSXQ
 

Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
Hello, My wife & I both from Scotland and walked over the Pyrenees last year from SJPdP to Roncesvalles. It’s just a big long slog, nothing technical.
Thanks that’s what I was looking for I’ve done many walks around Scotland and I was trying to gauge how to get ready for the first day out so this is good news cheers 👍
 

Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
I first read the original post as a request to find a mountain in Scotland with a similar gradient that could be used to train on. That would have made my first post useful. If the intent though was to find how how difficult it would be to walk the Route Napoleon then watch this video. It is a speeded up version of the walk. Warning: this walk was done by a very experienced mountain hiker. Mere mortals may need some rest stops (I took the valley way myself).

Youtube video id: kLMyWudsSXQ
Rick I must admit I use these videos almost obsessively during covid I do a daily session on my exercise bike at home and normally stick one of these on my iPad while I’m doing it they are just the right length (45mins approx) and save you from getting bored in the bike 👍
 

JohnMcM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some, and with luck, some more.
Another Scot here Paul. Think Ben Lomond twice. A bit of a thigh burner up to Orisson if you're carrying too much. After that an uncomprising slog up for a while then a knee-jarring thigh burner down again into Roncesvalles.

By the way, you may like many others find days 2&3 a wee bit more difficult than you would normally expect, maybe due I think to the downhill stretch into Roncesvalles in n tired legs.

Buen(pleasantly surprised1st day) Camino
 
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Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
Thanks John that gives me a bit of context to the day 👍Being from Paisley I must admit Ben Lomond is one of my favourite walks, probably because its so close to home and was my daughters first Munro when she was 9 although I did bribe her with the promise of chocolate cake in the pub at the end 🤣 I also once met a Canadian woman on the West Highland Way who had don 4 caminos and said her two days walking along the side of Loch Lomond were far harder than any section of the camino so as I said earlier was trying to compare the two environments so based on what I’m reading it should be as enjoyable as I have hoped 👍
 

Harland2019

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April/May "2019"
Whilst we are different, I was 71 (although fairly fit) when I walked this stage. For me I didn't find it that difficult as there is no map reading, good underfoot, new companions to meet/chat with and a stop with food and drink to look forward to. For that reason I found it physically easier than walking many of the uphill trails/fells/mountains in Scotland or the Lake District and certainly easier than the South West Coast Path. My only issue was that I had too many clothes on, my waterproof came off first and then my fleece so that I was just in shorts and "T" shirt at the end. Just take small steps, stop to admire the view "as required"! Not forgetting to stop at Refuge Orisson for your first tortilla de patatas.
 

Don Camillo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 04-16
Norte/Primitivo 09-16
VdlP/ Sanabres 02/3-17
Levante 09/17,
Ruta de la Lana 09/18
Paul,
I cannot comment on the Napolean route as I took the Valcarlos Route.
This was a slog and I was about done once I reached the top. I can say in comparison to the West Highland Way that the comments you quote by the pilgrim ref the latter stage of Loch Lomand as it negociates boulders and short scrambles are correct. I personally reckon that the climb's out of Kingshouse and the climb out of Kinlochleven are far in excess of what you can expect on the Valcarlos Route at least. Hope that provides some additional perspective.
Don
 

Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
Paul,
I cannot comment on the Napolean route as I took the Valcarlos Route.
This was a slog and I was about done once I reached the top. I can say in comparison to the West Highland Way that the comments you quote by the pilgrim ref the latter stage of Loch Lomand as it negociates boulders and short scrambles are correct. I personally reckon that the climb's out of Kingshouse and the climb out of Kinlochleven are far in excess of what you can expect on the Valcarlos Route at least. Hope that provides some additional perspective.
Don
Well it looks like my years of walking in Scotland have paid additional dividends even though there were times in the traditional Scots weather I wondered why I was doing it 🤣 although when I was walking from Valenca on the Portuguese last year I did think it felt a bit too relaxed so can’t wait to get started next May. Thanks for the help
 

Galloglaigh2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances / Via Francigena
My mistake. It’s 1000 ft on - but you are correct it spends on the 1000 ft.

if only they could organise an Orison halfway up it would be perfect.
 

Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
My mistake. It’s 1000 ft on - but you are correct it spends on the 1000 ft.

if only they could organise an Orison halfway up it would be perfect.
Funny you should mention facilities, I read a trip advisor review recently that complained Ben Nevis was too high, boring, too cloudy so no view and had no restaurant or toilets at the top 🤦🏼‍♂️ Some people just don’t get it 🤣🤣
 

Dromengro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - Leon 1984
Frances (2021)
I'm Scottish and brought up on the hills. I didn't know much about the Francis before going but I had heard about the really steep climb over the Pyrenees. I was expecting a rocky scramble, with maybe a nice scree run down the other side. I don't remember much about the climb, but I do remember looking down from the col and wondering where the Pyrenees were.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
Looking for advice from those that have walked in Scotland

I come from the Scotland of the south, and hope my experiences might assist.

As I arrived at Saint-Jean I had been just over three weeks on the way from Le Puy-en-Velay with a similar elevation gain on the first day, but at a more gentler rate of climb. So I was match fit for the pull up to Orisson, and others a bit later.

If you are near Edinburgh, my father would have recommended regular walks up the Pentlands, or even Arthur's Seat. Do those trips often enough with all your gear will get you match fit as well. And your legs will get used to the climbing and descending (just as many hills to go down in Spain).

Being match fit is essential but wait, there is more.

After 3 plus weeks I had become acclimatised. The early May morning of leaving Saint-Jean I dressed for the late morning weather. For me that was a short sleeved merino top, light weight kilt, long hose, gloves as my fingers get cold very quickly and a floppy hat pulled down over my ears. But my body warms up quite quickly. When underway I noticed many walkers stopping, take off an outer layer, open their pack and put it away: I am sure they got a bit of a chill in doing this.

A trick I had learnt in my four years of training before I could leave home, was this: as the road steepened I would shorten my step and keep the same rate. On the flat my step might be, say, 700 mm (2 and bit feet). On a really steep section I would reduce my step to about 1/4 of that, say 150 mm (6 inches, or about half a foot length - as the right foot landed the heel would still be well behind the toes of the left foot). I would keep the same rate of foot fall and I would consciously breathe in on one footfall and out on the other.

With those two techniques (plus the fitness) and with three stops - 3 minutes at Orisson to ask about the weather, 30 seconds at Last Sello (bitter wind and no Sun) and loo stop on the descent - I noticed only one person passed me when I was walking.

On day two I reached the hostel at Zalbadika. This is a parish operation with same Sacred Heart Sisters providing a pastoral care. In the evening service were were asked to share our experiences so far. I was most surprised when the young 20 somethings asked me why I was "so fast". I explained the above and they were content. The next day I was the far side of Pamplona, trying to get a landscape photo of the "windmills" when another 20 something asked if he could take one of me in the foreground. When done he explained he had heard about me that morning.

That's quite a mouthful, sorry. But, in my view, it is not how many Munros you walk up but how you are prepared in all aspects that will ease you way up and your way down.

As Her Majesty says to us Scots and others of the south, Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui (Be strong, be brave, be patient). To which I add Get going when you can.
 
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Teej41

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April/May 2018
Looking for advice from those that have walked in Scotland. I’m looking at the first day SJPdP to Roncesvalles and was wondering how it would compare to walks or Munro’s from what I can see it appears similar to Ben Nevis in height but at an easier gradient, would that be a fair summation? making it more of a long hill walk rather than a stiff mountain climb. tia 👍
Hi Paul. You've got many useful replies. Just to add to the general consensus...I based my thoughts on this 'strenuous' first day to Roncesvalles on visualisation of my ascents of Ben Nevis. In fact The Ben is a full 4400 ft vertical ascent from Ft William. The Col de Lepoeder the highest point is just 4000ft vertical absent from St Jean as it is already at a height of over 600ft above sea level. If you're a true Munro bagger, you will have no problems. Yes it is sustained and the steepest bit is the bit just before Orisson. But it was no problem at all. Keep the weight you carry to a minimum. They are nothing more than very big but very grassy rounded hills. Very little bare rock. The only evidence of being at 4600 ft above sea level was the gale force wind, despite the sunshine! Two thirds of the way you follow a road. After that the Camino is well waymarked or simply follow the others. Descent was no problem either. 16 miles through anywhere in the NW Scottish Highlands would be a much tougher proposition, believe you me.
 

Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
Hi Paul. You've got many useful replies. Just to add to the general consensus...I based my thoughts on this 'strenuous' first day to Roncesvalles on visualisation of my ascents of Ben Nevis. In fact The Ben is a full 4400 ft vertical ascent from Ft William. The Col de Lepoeder the highest point is just 4000ft vertical absent from St Jean as it is already at a height of over 600ft above sea level. If you're a true Munro bagger, you will have no problems. Yes it is sustained and the steepest bit is the bit just before Orisson. But it was no problem at all. Keep the weight you carry to a minimum. They are nothing more than very big but very grassy rounded hills. Very little bare rock. The only evidence of being at 4600 ft above sea level was the gale force wind, despite the sunshine! Two thirds of the way you follow a road. After that the Camino is well waymarked or simply follow the others. Descent was no problem either. 16 miles through anywhere in the NW Scottish Highlands would be a much tougher proposition, believe you me.
Fantastic I’ve always found Munro bagging more of a mental challenge rather than physical, although my knees aren’t as good as my younger years walking, but the focus of the celebration drink at the end of each day has always made it easier, I found that when walking the CP last year that it was a similar mental challenge to walking a camino as it was to the walks I’ve done at home but I am so glad to hear advice from fellow Scots walkers because it makes the unknown tangible and removes the “what ifs” from my plans thank you all
 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-SJPDP 2014, VDLP 2014,
Arles-SDC 2015, Lisbon-SDC 2017, Part Ruta de la Lana 2019, VDLP 2019
I reckon the Great Glen Way is a worthwhile training stretch. I had three days of flat and great hills thereafter, some associated with going to loch level for a YHA, and an hour straight up to rejoin the path. If you don't think it's demanding enough, there is a higher level option once you reach the hills. And you get a spectacular walk with no repetition.
 

PMA

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2020)
Looking for advice from those that have walked in Scotland. I’m looking at the first day SJPdP to Roncesvalles and was wondering how it would compare to walks or Munro’s from what I can see it appears similar to Ben Nevis in height but at an easier gradient, would that be a fair summation? making it more of a long hill walk rather than a stiff mountain climb. tia 👍

Hi, I walked this leg today. It is a 21 km climb and so much easier compared to Ben Nevis (which I climbed twice). BN is much more demanding up and down. The views though are fab here and there!
 

Paul Wilson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese April 2019
Frances May 2021
Hi, I walked this leg today. It is a 21 km climb and so much easier compared to Ben Nevis (which I climbed twice). BN is much more demanding up and down. The views though are fab here and there!
Thanks a lot that’s a great help it is more about planning ahead to give me an idea of how the stage is so I know if I’m in for an early start (guess it will be) but it lets me decide if I’m doing an extra night in SJPdP or if I would have time to look around in the morning then walk but I think I’ll do the extra I would like to see the place before I get started
 

Henm2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino de frances
Its just as hard a slog as Ben Nevis tourist track only a lot nicer. Take plenty of water if it's a fine day
 

Galloglaigh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lycra tribe.
CF (2017/8), VF (2018/9), Old Way (2020), VFnS (2020), CP (rebooked) (2021), VdT (ToDo)
You'll be able to do it comfortably in 7 hours. Start at SjPP at 8:00 and you'll be in Roncesvalles at 15:00. That's even stopping for a coffee at the van close to the highest point.

From your description of your past challenges, you'll eat this one.
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
The long walk along the rough track by Loch Lomond on the West Highland Way is more difficult than the walk from SJPDP to Roncesvalles, which is arguably easier, although higher, than the hills outside Inverness on the Great Glen Way.
 

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