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Questions from first timer

Year of past OR future Camino
2026
I plan to walk the Northern Way, Muxia and Finisterre. In YouTube videos, I see people having to walk through wet ground on the caminos maybe up to their ankles or lower shins. Is this common in Jun/July?

Also, in similar videos I hear dangerous dog barks and also see walkers opening up fences and walking through pastures with cows/bulls/horses etc in them. Are there dangers of wild or farmed animals or pet dogs?

Lastly is it illegal to use the washroom outside on the trails (of course not while traveling through the cities/villages)?
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Lastly is it illegal to use the washroom outside on the trails
With that one sentence I can tell that you are Canadian. 😅
No, not illegal to "answer the call of nature" outside where there are no washrooms. Of course you would be respectful and leave no trace.

As far as wet/muddy trails - on the Norte, yes you may encounter some ankle deep mud. That's one of the reasons why I like wearing sandals on the Camino. They are so much easier to clean than shoes.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi, and welcome to the forum!

If you are concerned about what footwear is appropriate, I would say that waterproofing or boots would not be necessary, and they would probably be too hot in the summer.

You will hear dogs barking, of course, but very very rarely would they bite. The barking dogs are either chained in a yard, or they are trained working dogs guarding/herding farm animals. I get very nervous when a dog barks at me, but I carry on. I am sure there have been occasional dog bites, but I haven't read about or talked to anyone who has actually been bitten. (I was bitten a few months ago here in Canada, though!)

There is virtually no risk from wild animals. I might get nervous when a cow moos at me, but I still carry on. Here is an interesting thread about cows.

Robo has made two little videos on the subject of toilets needs - here and here.

If you click on the tag "first camino" that I've put up by the title of this thread, you'll find many threads with other questions that you might be thinking about!
 

Abuelo

Anticipate Spring 2022 Lisbon trek
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Being a son of the south I have similar questions about snakes. From lack of postings and the irrational fear some people have of them I assume there simply aren't any?
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
With that one sentence I can tell that you are Canadian. 😅
No, not illegal to "answer the call of nature" outside where there are no washrooms. Of course you would be respectful and leave no trace.

As far as wet/muddy trails - on the Norte, yes you may encounter some ankle deep mud. That's one of the reasons why I like wearing sandals on the Camino. They are so much easier to clean than shoes.
I am another sandal (always with socks!) fan; you can wade rivers, walk through mud, and then rest assured that everything will be dry in a few minutes if you keep walking.
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Being a son of the south I have similar questions about snakes. From lack of postings and the irrational fear some people have of them I assume there simply aren't any?
No, there are snakes in Spain including the (slightly) venomous adder or viper

please see this Snakes in-a Spain! (apologies to Samuel L. Jackson)

But don't panic - in 6 Caminos I've only seen 3 snakes: an 8" long Adder

1613902530255.png

another about 18" long on gravel paths and a dead snake about 2'6" long by the roadside.

If you get bitten seek medical attention but don't over stress it as a deterent to walking.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I plan to walk the Northern Way, Muxia and Finisterre. In YouTube videos, I see people having to walk through wet ground on the caminos maybe up to their ankles or lower shins. Is this common in Jun/July?

Also, in similar videos I hear dangerous dog barks and also see walkers opening up fences and walking through pastures with cows/bulls/horses etc in them. Are there dangers of wild or farmed animals or pet dogs?

Lastly is it illegal to use the washroom outside on the trails (of course not while traveling through the cities/villages)?
Always check before you squat

Something bit my butt!

If you are really lucky you might get to see a wild boar; Spanish farmers tend to chain up their dogs (a generalisation I know) just don't go near them or the farm they are guarding, and the cattle are often times simply adorable:

1613903488879.png

a cow with a crumpled horn - San Juan de Ortega

Edit: there shouldn't be any need to open up fences, indeed there are few gates that need to be opened.
 
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Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I cannot remember that I had to open s fence on all of the norte. Perhaps you could find some on alternative routes. ( There are many of them who generally are more beautifull,have less asphalt and are longer)
If you do the norte in Juli you must prepare yourself That it might be busy in coastal towns due to the summer holidays with Spanish people who are there for a beach holiday
 

AllanHG

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino France 2015
Camino Portuguese 2017
I’m not as worried about wild and domestic animals as I am about the terrain because of my knees. I’ve walked the Frances and Portuguese Caminos (using poles and sometimes not carrying my pack to reduce weight) but I’ve heard that terrain is tougher on this Camino.
Thanks.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I’m not as worried about wild and domestic animals as I am about the terrain because of my knees. I’ve walked the Frances and Portuguese Caminos (using poles and sometimes not carrying my pack to reduce weight) but I’ve heard that terrain is tougher on this Camino.
Thanks.
If you are speaking about the Norte, there are a lot more up and downs (500m) climbs and descents. This is particularly true in the early part of the Norte. The route, imo, gets easier as you go.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
The only Camino that I remember having to open/close gates was the Salvador.
I've seen only one tiny snake on five Caminos, but lots of other (domestic) animals.
 

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Year of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
I have yet to see a snake in 11 caminos (3 on the del Norte), but I am told that they are around. As far as dogs go, on the del Norte they are generally chained or behind fences, but we need to remember that they are working dogs for security, and are not cuddly pets. I have run into mean dogs on the loose on the Galician stretch of the del Norte, but it is a rare occurrence.

I think that there was one spot where I had to open and close a gate, but I really can't remember where. I am not sure if I recall any streams, but I found the mediaeval road leading into Orio to be murderous on the ankles so I would recommend the road. Others will differ.

Efren Gonzalez' youtubes on the del Norte are good for giving you an idea of what you will encounter for surfaces.
 
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jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I plan to walk the Northern Way, Muxia and Finisterre. In YouTube videos, I see people having to walk through wet ground on the caminos maybe up to their ankles or lower shins. Is this common in Jun/July?

Also, in similar videos I hear dangerous dog barks and also see walkers opening up fences and walking through pastures with cows/bulls/horses etc in them. Are there dangers of wild or farmed animals or pet dogs?

Lastly is it illegal to use the washroom outside on the trails (of course not while traveling through the cities/villages)?
I recall gates on the Vasco, San Salvador and VdlP.

In a Spring walk you will encounter streams to cross on most routes Madrid, Mozarabe, Vasco etc.

Dogs are almost always chained up but you will probably encounter a few loose ones. Never been attacked but they are territorial and usually only bark until you pass.

There are several routes where you will deal with cattle, sheep, horses and pigs. They have never presented a problem.

When you gotta go, do so discreetly and bury or pick up and dispose. Carry plastic bags. I have only needed #1, though there are many signs of #2.
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Above all, beware the Camino Sheep, as they can flock across your intended path. Should you stare at the fleeting flock, you may suddenly find yourself being shaken awake, hours later, by passing pilgrims,

In truth, AncientMariner, human-animal interactions of the dangerous sort are exceedingly rare and I have not heard of any related to wildlife, though others may have.

Gnats and flies can be a brief annoyance that is easily dealt with by covering nose and mouth loosely with a shemagh or bandanna. I suppose mosquitoes could be encountered depending on location and season, although I haven't encountered any during my preferred season to walk Camino in the Fall.

I have seen 1 live snake, which didn't appear of the viper variety, and 2 dead viperish types. Salamanders and snails aplenty depending on region. But I have never seen any bears, dangerous wild pigs, or other feral, toothy types during 3 Caminos, either while walking in very early morning when dark or while walking during daylight hours.

I have enjoyed seeing the periodic deer, predator birds (falcon and hawks, or what looked similar). The more into the 'wild' a Camino route goes, like those crossing into the Picos de Europa, the more likely such wildlife viewings.

Farm dogs are a different thing from the 'pet' dog variety. There are adorable dogs that seem to make it their mission to appear cute, cuddly, and irresistible to passing pilgrims. I swear, the Spanish must have a developed a genetic cross-mutation of dog species which force pilgrims to stop and mutter silly sayings of endearment while giving scratches and scritches galore. Some even have a velcro gene, whereby they will follow you around for a while until their quota of pets and scratches have been met.

Cats? Well, I am not a cat person, but I have seen cute cats, lots of kittens, and I prefer not to touch them out of concern over potential fleas and parasites and such. Unlike dogs, who usually have owners, and barring what I know are barnyard cats, it seems that many cats are unattached street cats. If you are into cats, and even if not, it can be a bit heartbreaking.


"You are powerless. Scratch me"

1613934964876.png
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
With that one sentence I can tell that you are Canadian. 😅
No, not illegal to "answer the call of nature" outside where there are no washrooms. Of course you would be respectful and leave no trace.

As far as wet/muddy trails - on the Norte, yes you may encounter some ankle deep mud. That's one of the reasons why I like wearing sandals on the Camino. They are so much easier to clean than shoes.

What is Canadian about that sentence?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
What is Canadian about that sentence?
Washroom 😉

It reminds me of the first time I went to visit my now husband in Vancouver. After picking me up at the airport we went out to lunch, and I had to use the "facilities." When I asked the waitress where the bathroom was (or I may have said restroom) she looked somewhat puzzled and said "oh, the washroom."
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
Washroom 😉

It reminds me of the first time I went to visit my now husband in Vancouver. After picking me up at the airport we went out to lunch, and I had to use the "facilities." When I asked the waitress where the bathroom was (or I may have said restroom) she looked somewhat puzzled and said "oh, the washroom."

Ah. When I was in Europe, years go, I asked a waitress in a restaurant where the Washroom was. She replied that they wouldn't have one of those. When I said oh well what about a toilet, she replied well of course we have one of those. :)

We get used to our own terminology don't we? In a restaurant in Georgia, I heard an elderly couple beside me ask for a serviette. The waitress had no idea, until I said he wants a napkin. Another couple of lost Canadians. Likely asked for jam instead of jelly for their toast. LOL
 
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Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Students of allusion may enjoy an internet search for “the doughnut in granny’s greenhouse”. My favourite fragment of sanitary history relates to the Royal Oak pub at Hooksway on the South Downs Way. Late in the 1890’s at a hearing before the licensing Magistrates the then Landlord was asked “what facilities were available for the comfort of customers”, local newspapers report that his reply was “6 acres of scrub & pasture your Honour”.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Above all, beware the Camino Sheep, as they can flock across your intended path. Should you stare at the fleeting flock, you may suddenly find yourself being shaken awake, hours later, by passing pilgrims,

In truth, AncientMariner, human-animal interactions of the dangerous sort are exceedingly rare and I have not heard of any related to wildlife, though others may have.

Gnats and flies can be a brief annoyance that is easily dealt with by covering nose and mouth loosely with a shemagh or bandanna. I suppose mosquitoes could be encountered depending on location and season, although I haven't encountered any during my preferred season to walk Camino in the Fall.

I have seen 1 live snake, which didn't appear of the viper variety, and 2 dead viperish types. Salamanders and snails aplenty depending on region. But I have never seen any bears, dangerous wild pigs, or other feral, toothy types during 3 Caminos, either while walking in very early morning when dark or while walking during daylight hours.

I have enjoyed seeing the periodic deer, predator birds (falcon and hawks, or what looked similar). The more into the 'wild' a Camino route goes, like those crossing into the Picos de Europa, the more likely such wildlife viewings.

Farm dogs are a different thing from the 'pet' dog variety. There are adorable dogs that seem to make it their mission to appear cute, cuddly, and irresistible to passing pilgrims. I swear, the Spanish must have a developed a genetic cross-mutation of dog species which force pilgrims to stop and mutter silly sayings of endearment while giving scratches and scritches galore. Some even have a velcro gene, whereby they will follow you around for a while until their quota of pets and scratches have been met.

Cats? Well, I am not a cat person, but I have seen cute cats, lots of kittens, and I prefer not to touch them out of concern over potential fleas and parasites and such. Unlike dogs, who usually have owners, and barring what I know are barnyard cats, it seems that many cats are unattached street cats. If you are into cats, and even if not, it can be a bit heartbreaking.


"You are powerless. Scratch me"

View attachment 94099
Nothing cute about that, looks dog eared to me!

Now this was a useful and cute animal. I watched it hunting mice in the grass next to the Municipal Albergue in Triacastela. It must of noticed me watching and bought its prey over to where I was standing so that I could watch it eat the mouse whole and then wait to be told how clever it was.

Notice that it is fat with a nice glossy coat, obviously mice are good for it.
IMG_20190630_145344565.jpg
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
The cows only look scary (at least to us city folk!), but we did confront a loose bull that had escaped its fenced pasture and was definitely scaring the locals. Funny enough, it was just outside of Pamplona - I found running FROM the bull better than WITH it....

As for dogs, a Camino friend was bitten by a working dog that had aggressively followed us, too. While Spanish dogs generally are all bark and no bite, there is an occasional one that simply has a different mindset. We found that ignoring them worked most of the time and a threatening shout while waving our walking stick worked for the rest. If you have a fear of dogs, already, it can be a bit traumatizing.
 
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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Camino Norte wet?????

July and August 2018 - Rain for 10 days of the 42 days
 

SFletcher

Una flecha sigue una flecha
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP - Pamplona (2018); Pamplona - Burgos (2019)
These cattle were on the Camino Frances just before Ages (one day before Burgos) in June 2019. It was notable as they were the first cattle we had seen in over a week since Pamplona. They ignored us and kept munching. We stayed on the track through the field and were careful not to get between any cow and her calf. I think there was a gate at the end of the field that we had to open and close again.
 

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backpack45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Vezelay (2017, in progress); Primitivo & Norte; Geneva/LePuy; Arles; Portuguese; Francés + more
I’m not as worried about wild and domestic animals as I am about the terrain because of my knees. I’ve walked the Frances and Portuguese Caminos (using poles and sometimes not carrying my pack to reduce weight) but I’ve heard that terrain is tougher on this Camino.
Thanks.
AllanHG. Yes, it is tougher, but it is still one step at a time and not unsurmountable. I'll assume you use hiking poles (2) and use them as needed.
 

Silus

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
CBDD8F78-4232-4438-9A62-0C9DB0C914DC.jpeg
This dog was off to coffee with its master, super Cute and just loved attention.

6AFD0218-EB65-4ED7-941A-114E36E31A5F.jpeg

These geese are at Sarria, near the river, always looking for food, not aggressive at all.


This dog was off to the cafe with its master
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
If you have a fear of dogs, already, it can be a bit traumatizing.
I have a fear of unleashed large dogs after being bitten by a Rottweiler a few years ago at home. I have been afraid of dogs more than a few times on the Camino and glad I had a hiking pole "just in case".
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2013, CF 2014, CP 2016, CN 1st half 2018, CN 3rd qtr+R. Cantabrico 2019, Via Francigena 2017
On the Camino del Norte I only remember one place where we had to pass through a field with cows and no fence between us. Shown here in this photo. We were nervous, but they mostly ignored us. (There was a bull a little further away in the field as well, didn't get that in the photo.)

IMG_20180508_092717.jpg

I can't remember going through gates but we did go over a few steps that went over fences like this:

IMG_20180504_124434.jpg


Overall, cows, and cats, were a constant source of delight for us on the Camino del Norte.

IMG_3179.jpg IMG_2050.jpg IMG_20180427_132516.jpg

A lot of these cows had amazing views.

IMG_2299.jpg
 
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