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Rely on the waymarking, ignore your apps!

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nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
This is very much my opinion, but may be very relevent for anyone walking the Camino on the more recognised routes; Frances, Portugues, Norte and Finesterre / Muxia.

The waymarking was, in my experience, excellent on all routes and can be relied upon to direct you from place to place easily. In addition, there can be a huge amount of satisfaction (and sometimes relief), in finding or spotting the next marker. They become an integral part of the Camino experience providing reassurance and comfort throughout, and they help to keep your focus and keep you in the moment. You can rely solely on them. After all, people have followed them for years right?

When I walked the Frances, pretty much everyone just followed the waymarking.

When I walked the Portguese, after a gap of two years away from the Camino, the relief was palpable when I spotted the first waymarker at the cathedral in Lisbon, and I carefully followed them to the edge of the city. At that point, I met my first fellow pilgrim on the route, and when chatting I mentioned how good I thought the waymarking was. He said he hadn't noticed it as he was just following an app on his phone.

This was even more evident on my recent Camino, and even though I'm relatively new to this board, I have noticed several posts mentioning apps and maps. On the Norte this year, someone commented in a discussion about waymarking to say he had to use and follow an app as it was his first Camino.

But, I disagree ... if it is your first Camino, it's even more important to NOT use an app and follow the waymarking. There really is a beauty in just following the arrows I think, and the Camino is a good time to unplug a little. I saw a number of people this year, head down, just following maps ... and I'm pretty sure they miss out because of it. If this is your first Camino, I promise you ... you can find your way with the arrows and it's a more satisfying experience too. If you plan on walking a regular route, the markers will guide you and keep you in the moment, and being 'now' is an essential part of the Camino I think.

Keep your apps as a last minute, get-out-of-jail card rather than relying on them as waymarkers. You see and feel a lot more that way I think.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Sound advice . . . until an arrow is obscured or an enterprising cafe owner has thoughtfully provided his own!

On MY first Camino we were exiting Logroño and got as far as where the big Alcampo supermarket is - just before you veer off towards the lake. They were still building the big housing estate in those days and the first time we realised we were "off piste" was when we noticed there were no footprints in the mud ahead of us.

You don't, normally, need a map/app but sometimes, some people need some reassurance.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
In addition, there can be a huge amount of satisfaction (and sometimes relief), in finding or spotting the next marker. They become an integral part of the Camino experience providing reassurance and comfort throughout, and they help to keep your focus and keep you in the moment. You can rely solely on them.
@nickpellatt, your passionate appeal which I admire is a good example for me that people can see much significance and meaning in something where others see none.

For me, who started walking way before the yellow arrows appeared on every conceivable item in the environment, following those sometimes overdimensional yellow arrows and constantly trying to spot them feels like walking in a hamster wheel. They are good to have when you are in serious doubts about which way to take and there's nobody and nothing around to consult. Having a map to consult, nowadays available in electronic form which means it weighs nothing and doesn't dissolve in rain and doesn't need to be folded awkwardly, means freedom, means knowing where I am in the world and what's around me, means telling me where that church steeple is, where those roads go, which mountain I'm looking at ... I wouldn't want to be without it.

One of my very best memories is walking a path through a vast chestnut forest up high before Trabadelo ... a path that was barely visible, had no waymarking of any kind and would have remained hidden to us without PocketEarth.

Where we are perhaps of the same opinion is where people use an app like a car navigation system, constantly telling them where to turn left, where to turn right, where to go straight. We had someone walking with us for a short while who did that. It drove me nuts. But is an app anything else than yellow arrows in electronic form?
 
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HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
Yellow arrows are nice and reassuring, of course, but for those of us who are directionally challenged (and like "odd" caminos), electronic maps and apps are necessary.
 

PiryatJos

Pilgrim Brit
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - SJPdP - SdC (Oct/Nov '18) (Sep/Oct '19)

Camino del Norte - Santander - SdC (2021)
I think you pick up a knack for knowing when you should come across an arrow. I was only offtrack in any significant way three times.

One by mistake but it was still heading to the same town however was on it for at least 90 mins and meant I missed the entrance to town and would not know which would be the first cafe when meeting friends.

Second was laziness, I just didn't want to walk a detour not always smart because much of the time it detours away from main roads or even small hamlets that don't want pilgrims walking through.

Third time was when I met a German guy living in Ireland, he was a maverick and liked to make his own ways and he was a good guy to talk to for a half day.

Do you need the apps to navigate? No, but if you have them downloaded then you can use that to plan especially during the peak times when places could be full and off-season when places are closed. I used Brierley but his topography is weak.
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
I think everyone has a point. I agree with Nickpellat: most of the time you can just follow the arrows (signposts, tiles, ....). When in doubt or lost, using an electronic device can help. So I think every pilgrim should decide which suits her/him best.

That having said, I personally like to follow the arrows. To me, it’s the most relaxing way of moving around, focussing on whatever is important at that moment. I do like to use an app at the end of the day to see where the albuergues/restaurants/shops are. And I use a separate GPS system with the map of Spain and Portugal and the Camino(s) I’m planning to walk. I use it when I think I’m lost or, like last year on the VdlP when it was really hot during daytime (46-48 degrees Celsius), and I decided to take advantage of the almost full moon and started walking at 3am.

This doesn’t prevent me from getting lost every now and then. But I had some very meaningful (and funny) experiences when I had lost my way. One time being escorted across a military ammunition depot by three armed soldiers after overseeing an arrow and my GPS system telling me that the Camino ran somewhere on the other side of this military facility. Apparantly I looked harmless (or lost) enough for them to do something they weren’t allowed to. Or having lunch with a Spanish family when I ended up in the wrong town, about 4-5 km. off-route, with the man of the house driving me back to the point where I had gone wrong.

So I prefer to rely on following the arrows, cherishing the moments I didn’t pay enough attention.

And let’s face it: Spain is a civilised country, so how lost can one get?
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
As above ^^^ all interesting points, everyone walks their own path of course, but my advice is more relevant (IMHO) for first-time pilgrims rather than the experienced walker, who may prefer to seek out new paths and walk the road less travelled.

The apps aren't always accurate either so I think it's a mistake to rely on them. Camino Places misdirected me on the Norte and took me on a path that the German Jakobsweg book recommends avoiding as it is dangerous. It was one of the few times I opened the app, and I followed it rather than my instinct.

The Buen Camino app was also incorrect on the road to Muxia, and it avoids the Mt Aro albergue. I checked this en-route as the hospitalero told me about it.

Of course, maps, apps, GPS and smartphones are tools we can use in any experience in life .... but on the Camino, especially on the first Camino, it's great to unplug, and really live in the moment much more than we are used to in our 'regular' lives.

Buen Camino to all
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I met my first fellow pilgrim on the route, and when chatting I mentioned how good I thought the waymarking was. He said he hadn't noticed it as he was just following an app on his phone.
I wonder what else people miss when their eyes are on their screens.
I remember many years ago when cheap video cameras became popular. I started to see tourists walking around my city, filming every moment of their visit. I used to hope that they might notice what a beautiful city it was when they got home and watched their videos.
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
"I wonder what else people miss when their eyes are on their screens."

@Raggy


That's the key point to my advice really. The beauty, the magic, the poetry and freedom doesn't just happen ... you have to open the door and kinda let it in. Learning to focus on the now, and appreciate all the sights and sounds isn't easy and being head down and glued to a phone makes it harder, when there isnt really any need for it. If you start your first Camino experience in this way ... accepting the path and keeping your eyes and mind open, I personally feel it will be more rewarding.

My experience is just that of course, my experience. So feel free to disregard it!
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
One of the joys of the Camino has been throwing alway the electronics and unplugging from the world and putting your faith in a splash of yellow paint to show you the way.

The lure of the yellow arrow is so strong that when we come across one in a town we are visiting as tourists we've been known to follow it, sometime for days on an impromptu Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte Sept 2013
Camino del Norte Sept 2014
Camino del Norte 2015,16,17,18
I am visually challenged and find following the yellow arrows far easier than getting out glasses ,mobile and bring challenged as well by bright sunlight. Far more relaxing imho to try and follow yellow arrows maybe with the benefit of a bit of prior knowledge gleaned the night before from studying a guidebook or even app.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés, '14 '17 Finisterre, '14 '17 '18 Primitivo, '15 '18 Portuguese, '17, '18 San Salvador, '18
I think the Camino is an ever-fluid thing, and no one system works 100% of the time. Thank God we are all different and experience things in different ways. Sharing here on the forums provides enormous value!

As a guide writer myself, I know that at times you must be prepared for things that you may not know exist without prior research. I have met many a pilgrim who walked right past some fabulous historic areas without knowing of their existence.

I am NOT a proponent of blindly following apps, but talking to other pilgrims, locals, checking apps/maps/guides when needed, AND following your intuition and yellow arrows are all mandatory for a successful Camino!
 

Mike Putman

Pilgrim_Traveler
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept 2018
I very much agree follow the arrows there were a few confusing spots on our Camino last fall but just a little looking took care of it. We helped a couple walkers who missed the arrows. They were so intend on following the app and not really looking at the way. Using the arrows I think helps your awareness of the beauty of the Camino,
 

willydp

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CI June 2019
I did my first Camino last June and did not see always the arrow or marker right away.
Had to pull out my Brierley map guide to see that it was to the left to go of the square (was in Ferrol).
So in doubt it can be useful to have a backup of some kind.
Secondly it is even wise to take some kind of gps app if you want to walk 'the old way' because those are not marked (some arrows now and then), e.g. to avoid the highway route into Sigüeiro....
And I'm sure that people are getting more uncertain and distracted too when getting older.
I agree that having your nose on the screen or on a map is overkill.
Enjoy the scenery, listen the birds singing.
And if you want a picture stop and then go further... continuing enjoying the walk 🙂
Carpe Diem & Buen Camino.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Yellow arrows are nice and reassuring, of course, but for those of us who are directionally challenged (and like "odd" caminos), electronic maps and apps are necessary.
Although I'm maybe not directionally challenged as you call it, of the 13 or 14 different Camino routes I have taken in Spain, it was only on several initial stages of the Lana from Alicante to Cuenca where I took out my Google Maps for directional orientation because arrows (or anything else for that matter) were lacking and few locals knew the path. All the others were well marked.

Of course some people just like using guides, maps, GPS and apps. I prefer to just follow the arrows 😊. Do I sometimes get lost? Sure. But that's part of a Camino too😉
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I have become rather self-conscious about looking at my phone. I try to do it furtively so that others won't see me and silently (or not) criticize me for it. I also try not to leave incriminating nose prints on the screen.
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
As far as the Frances is concerned, I cannot think of a single part of it in which a waymarking/gps phone app is needed. None. I have never used one anywhere on the Camino and honestly don't want to walk with a phone to my face...ugh. No way. It stays in my pocket and only comes out to take a photo with it.
 

Kiwi-d

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sep/Oct 2014
I am so directionally challenged I could lose my way on a postage stamp, but found the Camino Frances extraordinarily simple to navigate. Shamefully I have to admit I barely even opened my Brierley, so didn't have a clue where I was going each day but at every junction or crossroads there was always an arrow if you looked for it. On the one early-morning departure from a small town when I took a few steps in the wrong direction, there was a bellow from a local lady on a balcony, who set me right with a pointed finger. But apps, maps or a damp finger held up in the wind, do whatever feels comfortable for you.
 

CharlieWart

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2018)
I did the VdP from Oursense and the problem with arrows I feared was that if I missed one (which I did several times) -- especially one directing me to take a branch off a more major track -- it could be a long time before self-doubt set in and I would feel I'd have to backtrack to find an earlier arrow, perhaps adding km. So I had a GPS route too. That way, you may go a little past a turning, but quickly realise before too much damage is done. Also, sometimes I found arrows ambiguous or faded, and was unsure if they were still "current". But the track I found online (not a specific Camino app) was outdated -- now crossed by a high-speed railway line and deep road cutting -- so that cost me some distance and time anyway, and to be fair following arrows more trustingly for those bits would have helped me. So basically I got into a little bit of trouble depending too much on GPS, but I would have got into bigger trouble if I'd just tried to follow the arrows, which would have led to several significant backtracking mistakes.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
But the track I found online (not a specific Camino app) was outdated -- now crossed by a high-speed railway line and deep road cutting -- so that cost me some distance and time anyway, and to be fair following arrows more trustingly for those bits would have helped me.
This is a "Miss Marple" moment - Which elements of the available evidence can you trust? Which elements are there to mislead you? You need to filter the circumstantial evidence through your knowledge of human nature to figure out who might have been involved, with what motivation, and when.
 

OxFyrd

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese 2018, voie arles 2019
As above ^^^ all interesting points, everyone walks their own path of course, but my advice is more relevant (IMHO) for first-time pilgrims rather than the experienced walker, who may prefer to seek out new paths and walk the road less travelled.

The apps aren't always accurate either so I think it's a mistake to rely on them. Camino Places misdirected me on the Norte and took me on a path that the German Jakobsweg book recommends avoiding as it is dangerous. It was one of the few times I opened the app, and I followed it rather than my instinct.

The Buen Camino app was also incorrect on the road to Muxia, and it avoids the Mt Aro albergue. I checked this en-route as the hospitalero told me about it.

Of course, maps, apps, GPS and smartphones are tools we can use in any experience in life .... but on the Camino, especially on the first Camino, it's great to unplug, and really live in the moment much more than we are used to in our 'regular' lives.

Buen Camino to all
HI,
HYOH... Hike you own hike or hike the camino the way you want - live the life you want... I follow the trail but time to time I go straight across woods,... . Then the apps provides me with my GPS location, where to connect to small trails or roads.. I always know where I am, and the detailed maps ( I suggest Ign 25000 maps for France and Spain ) provides the picture in advance. Of course, I learned how to navigate with or without GPS. Should you don't, please closely follow the signs, they are accurate but don't get lost in an early cold morning, or in late or night arrivals. IMHO.



.
 

bobbogram

Member
Camino(s) past & future
El Norte San Sebastián to Santiago; Portuguese Lisbon to Porto; Porto to Santiago; Geneva west
The waymarking was, in my experience, excellent on all routes and can be relied upon to direct you from place to place easily. In addition, there can be a huge amount of satisfaction (and sometimes relief), in finding or spotting the next marker. They become an integral part of the Camino experience providing reassurance and comfort throughout, and they help to keep your focus and keep you in the moment. You can rely solely on them. After all, people have followed them for years right?
Use your GPS, and break this guy’s heart?

The markings are wonderful if you don’t miss one while chatting with strangers along the Camino or this guy in the picture hasn’t trimmed the undergrowth. The established path is often overfilled with pilgrims during high season and as you get closer to Santiago, due in particular with Camino minimalists who just flew into a nearby airport. Competition for food and a roof may require adaptation.

There will be felled trees laying across the path, walls with yellow arrows pointing in opposite directions, flooded low points, nearly impossible to find yellow arrows on walls or signs or sidewalks. It’s Darwinian out there - adapt or die.

Grisly
 

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Dinah Shaw

Volcano Climber
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
This is very much my opinion, but may be very relevent for anyone walking the Camino on the more recognised routes; Frances, Portugues, Norte and Finesterre / Muxia.

The waymarking was, in my experience, excellent on all routes and can be relied upon to direct you from place to place easily. In addition, there can be a huge amount of satisfaction (and sometimes relief), in finding or spotting the next marker. They become an integral part of the Camino experience providing reassurance and comfort throughout, and they help to keep your focus and keep you in the moment. You can rely solely on them. After all, people have followed them for years right?

When I walked the Frances, pretty much everyone just followed the waymarking.

When I walked the Portguese, after a gap of two years away from the Camino, the relief was palpable when I spotted the first waymarker at the cathedral in Lisbon, and I carefully followed them to the edge of the city. At that point, I met my first fellow pilgrim on the route, and when chatting I mentioned how good I thought the waymarking was. He said he hadn't noticed it as he was just following an app on his phone.

This was even more evident on my recent Camino, and even though I'm relatively new to this board, I have noticed several posts mentioning apps and maps. On the Norte this year, someone commented in a discussion about waymarking to say he had to use and follow an app as it was his first Camino.

But, I disagree ... if it is your first Camino, it's even more important to NOT use an app and follow the waymarking. There really is a beauty in just following the arrows I think, and the Camino is a good time to unplug a little. I saw a number of people this year, head down, just following maps ... and I'm pretty sure they miss out because of it. If this is your first Camino, I promise you ... you can find your way with the arrows and it's a more satisfying experience too. If you plan on walking a regular route, the markers will guide you and keep you in the moment, and being 'now' is an essential part of the Camino I think.

Keep your apps as a last minute, get-out-of-jail card rather than relying on them as waymarkers. You see and feel a lot more that way I think.
A agree Never used an app
 

Latecomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Sept 2015)

CF SJPDP-SdC+
(Sept/Oct 2018)
I found online apps such as Wisely: Camino Frances (and online maps such as Maps.me for the VDLP and Google Maps for general navigation) very useful for finding the junctions for variants and finding places in town (and finding the way out of towns in the dark... Oh I know, I am not supposed to do that either)..

But I would be the last person to say that people must (or must not) look at their phone if they are not sure where they are.

¡Buen Camino!
 
This is very much my opinion, but may be very relevent for anyone walking the Camino on the more recognised routes; Frances, Portugues, Norte and Finesterre / Muxia.

The waymarking was, in my experience, excellent on all routes and can be relied upon to direct you from place to place easily. In addition, there can be a huge amount of satisfaction (and sometimes relief), in finding or spotting the next marker. They become an integral part of the Camino experience providing reassurance and comfort throughout, and they help to keep your focus and keep you in the moment. You can rely solely on them. After all, people have followed them for years right?

When I walked the Frances, pretty much everyone just followed the waymarking.

When I walked the Portguese, after a gap of two years away from the Camino, the relief was palpable when I spotted the first waymarker at the cathedral in Lisbon, and I carefully followed them to the edge of the city. At that point, I met my first fellow pilgrim on the route, and when chatting I mentioned how good I thought the waymarking was. He said he hadn't noticed it as he was just following an app on his phone.

This was even more evident on my recent Camino, and even though I'm relatively new to this board, I have noticed several posts mentioning apps and maps. On the Norte this year, someone commented in a discussion about waymarking to say he had to use and follow an app as it was his first Camino.

But, I disagree ... if it is your first Camino, it's even more important to NOT use an app and follow the waymarking. There really is a beauty in just following the arrows I think, and the Camino is a good time to unplug a little. I saw a number of people this year, head down, just following maps ... and I'm pretty sure they miss out because of it. If this is your first Camino, I promise you ... you can find your way with the arrows and it's a more satisfying experience too. If you plan on walking a regular route, the markers will guide you and keep you in the moment, and being 'now' is an essential part of the Camino I think.

Keep your apps as a last minute, get-out-of-jail card rather than relying on them as waymarkers. You see and feel a lot more that way I think.
This has been one of the best posts I have read for a long time. I heartily second this!! I’m starting my third Camino August 8th and I love the adventure of looking for the Waymarkers!
Buen Camino to all!
Rosemary
(Even if you get lost a couple of times, you always “get found!”)
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Here's a good reason to follow the arrows: technology sometimes fails.

Galileo sat-nav system experiences service outage:

 

willydp

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CI June 2019
Here's a good reason to follow the arrows: technology sometimes fails.

Galileo sat-nav system experiences service outage:

We don't use that system in our navigational devices.
We use Global Positioning System = GPS.
Some countries developed their own systems to be independent of the USA.
Galileo is the European version, but not ready.
Glonass (Russian)...is.
For more info:
GPS.gov
You can rely on them until a conflict or war starts, then it will shift your position and only the military can use it.
Works fine and you even can track (walk,drive,fly,...) your route with it 👍
Final: is reliable when you have a line of site with the satellites. In a dense forest or building can be difficult 🤗
Use what ever works for you 🙃
Buen Camino 😎
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
This conversation seems to be about whether a pilgrim should use an app or not. Black or white. One or the other.

If there's one thing I've learned so far, it is that life isn't about black or white. It's neither about 'shades of grey', but more about being colourful.

Yes, I've seen pilgrims looking at a screen a lot, but I've also observed pilgrims not noticing their surroundings, being completely occupied with looking for arrows/signposts/camino-tiles or being absorbed by their guidebooks.

Someone said that it's a good thing if the focus is on walking the camino. I agree, it is. One can achieve that by following the arrows, an other one succeeds in doing so using an app or a GPS-device.

I'm a hybrid walker. I like to rely on following the arrows: when I see them, there's no need for me to look at my GPS-device. When in doubt (which can easily happen in a large city or so) or when I'm lost, I don't spend a lot of time looking for arrows, I just check my GPS-device and continue my camino. And yes, I do get lost, because every now and then I don't pay attention and miss a waymarker, only checking my GPS-device when I'm becoming aware that I'm lost.

So, I'm I in favour of following arrows or using an electronic device? I'd say neither. I know what works best for me and hope that other pilgrim find out what works best for themselves.
 

Derrybiketours

A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SANT-FIN (09/2018)
PORTO-SANT (11/2018)
Caminho Da Fe (01/2019)
SJPdP- Meseta (28/09/2019)
I agree with the Ops post and on three Caminos did the very same, relied upon the Camino infrastructure. After all isn't the way an opportunity to simplify life and walk with purpose whatever it might be. The yellow arrows are simply there to loosely provide direction and reassurance and so what if you get lost or miss out on the scenic route or pass-by something interesting that you may or may not have been interested in. It's all subjective getting lost is part of the experience, as in life you sometimes need to walk towards the unknown and rely on others to support your judgement and direction of travel. The Camino is your way and the magic for me occurs when you or someone you meet are outside their comfort zone and you help each other, human connection, communication and contact will always provide more insight than any technology can and the waymarkers are the starting point. Follow the arrows most of the time, deliberately ignore sometimes and follow instinct always and be prepared to get lost and find something new not available in any technology, guide or app. 🤠
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I agree, no app is needed to walk the Camino.
Just go.. follow the waymarks and the tons of pilgrims in front of you.
You'll be fine.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
As far as the Frances is concerned, I cannot think of a single part of it in which a waymarking/gps phone app is needed. None. I have never used one anywhere on the Camino and honestly don't want to walk with a phone to my face...ugh. No way. It stays in my pocket and only comes out to take a photo with it.
There was at least once on our 2016 Camino Frances where we had been doing as suggested, just following the yellow arrows, and missed one and ended up several km off the track with no idea of how to get back. Having an app that could show where we were and where the Camino was was very handy so that we could reconnect. It also helped the other pilgrims we found off the track that time who had missed the same turn off.

I like to follow the yellow arrows, too. But they aren't perfect. I also like to have a plan B available.
 

Rod Murray

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Portuguese Coastal (Sept 2019)
This is very much my opinion, but may be very relevent for anyone walking the Camino on the more recognised routes; Frances, Portugues, Norte and Finesterre / Muxia.

The waymarking was, in my experience, excellent on all routes and can be relied upon to direct you from place to place easily. In addition, there can be a huge amount of satisfaction (and sometimes relief), in finding or spotting the next marker. They become an integral part of the Camino experience providing reassurance and comfort throughout, and they help to keep your focus and keep you in the moment. You can rely solely on them. After all, people have followed them for years right?

When I walked the Frances, pretty much everyone just followed the waymarking.

When I walked the Portguese, after a gap of two years away from the Camino, the relief was palpable when I spotted the first waymarker at the cathedral in Lisbon, and I carefully followed them to the edge of the city. At that point, I met my first fellow pilgrim on the route, and when chatting I mentioned how good I thought the waymarking was. He said he hadn't noticed it as he was just following an app on his phone.

This was even more evident on my recent Camino, and even though I'm relatively new to this board, I have noticed several posts mentioning apps and maps. On the Norte this year, someone commented in a discussion about waymarking to say he had to use and follow an app as it was his first Camino.

But, I disagree ... if it is your first Camino, it's even more important to NOT use an app and follow the waymarking. There really is a beauty in just following the arrows I think, and the Camino is a good time to unplug a little. I saw a number of people this year, head down, just following maps ... and I'm pretty sure they miss out because of it. If this is your first Camino, I promise you ... you can find your way with the arrows and it's a more satisfying experience too. If you plan on walking a regular route, the markers will guide you and keep you in the moment, and being 'now' is an essential part of the Camino I think.

Keep your apps as a last minute, get-out-of-jail card rather than relying on them as waymarkers. You see and feel a lot more that way I think.
There is some serendipity in following the markers, isn’t there?!
I recall on my first Camino, on my first day walking, late in the afternoon after leaving Ponferrada, we ended up on the alternate route through Valtuille de Arriba. It was a ghost town, or seemed that way, and we saw no one for a few hours. The photo we have of the vineyard and house is perhaps one of the most iconic that we took during our whole trip.
I’m a tech guy and love maps and apps! But this was a lesson I that hadn’t quite sunk in. Later that afternoon, while entering Villefranca Del Bierzo, I almost took a fall down steps while checking a map on my phone. This would have ended my Camino right there, and I promised myself to look up, watch for the signs, or as you say, stay in the moment!
 

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