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Report on the Camino Norte

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Time 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:
http://www.elcomerciodigital.com/gijon/ ... 80801.html

In recent years I traveled on foot and by bicycle along the different camino routes - French Way, Camino Norte, the Aragonese, the Basque interior, the Silver Route ... there have been millions of steps and pedals and thousands of miles that have allowed me to know and enjoy different people, places, landscapes and roads.
In the beginning of July I did a stretch of the Asturian Road or the North Coast. 'Natural Paradise' announces posters. The combination of sea and mountains in the same landscape attracted me and I was not disappointed at all. You can actually say that this is a natural paradise.
It is a pity that the signaling and maintenance of roads is not so attractive. It is the worst route for signage and maintenance of all that I've travel. The signs are conspicuous by their absence in many parts of the trail.
To mention a few: Pendueles, The Island-Colunga, exit Oviedo, Piedras Blancas-Soto ... Elsewhere, the signs send the walkers off the Camino de Santiago. For example, in Upper La Campa, between San Pedro de Vega and two of Sariego. In other cases, roads were almost closed by weeds or in a very bad state of conservation: San Pedro de La Campa two-Alto, Soto-Luiña Novellana ...
Of the shelters and hospitaleros I found along the path I have no complaint. On the contrary, voluntary work being done is commendable. Associations of Friends of Way work well in that regard, but these deficiencies are there. I do not know if the signage and maintenance of these roads are the responsibility of such associations or local institutions and are autonomous. The fact is that these deficiencies do not encourage, in any way, walkers and cyclists to use these roads.
 
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Some pilgrims carry small cans of yellow spray paint in their bags, so when they figure out which is the right way, they can mark the path for those who follow. A few guerrilla pilgrims are planning to freshen the waymarks on the Camino Ingles this way, if the officials don´t get to it soon.

It´s one thing to point out a deficiency... I´ve heard several hair-raising tales of bad or missing waymarks on the Camino del Norte this year. It´s another thing to become part of the solution. (It might add a few grams to your pack-weight, so think twice.)

Too bad so many knuckleheads are also carrying markers and paint cans, for less worthy reasons.
 
When we were planning to walk the Via Francigena we offered to carry spray paint and help mark the way. The Assoc Via F nearly had a fit! "What if you go the wrong way," they asked, "but have already painted marks. Will you go back and try to erase them?"
We didn't take the paint.
 
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I realize that could be a problem...that is why the people doing the waymarking are those who´ve already finished the trail in recent days.
 
We were told that getting lost was a part of walking the VF - that everyone got lost and that we should prepare for it.
Addelaide Trezzini of the VF Assoc is very possessive of 'her' VF route. She told us we were Via Francigena pioneers and I think she had visions of 5 middle aged South African matrons, armed and dangerous with cans of yellow spray paint, wandering aimlessly through 5 Italian regions, haphazardly spraying yellow arrows from the Valle d'Aosta to the Vatican!
As it was, we never actually got lost and could have successfully way-marked the entire route to Roma. Now there are two English guides for the sections from Canterbury to the Gr St Bernard Pass and from there to Rome and the chances of getting lost are much reduced.
 
Joe Patterson and I did some guerrilla waymarking of the English section of the Via Francigena a few years ago. We marked the AIVF route. Then when the council realised that the VF could be useful touristically a route sponsored by Canterbury City and Kent County Councils was devised supported by the AEVF and CPR. It was on a different path competely after Patrixbourne (actually the North Downs Way).

So even if you way mark the "right" way it can become the "wrong" way.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
When walking the Camino del Norte, carry topographical maps of the areas you are going through. It is worth getting off trail ( busy highways) and rambling the beautiful coastal footpaths. Ask the locals if there are smaller, less traveled roads that lead from one village to another to avoid traffic.
I walked the Norte route in 2000 when the new autovia was being built. I see that the markings have improved since that time. The E9 coastal footpaths are worth following.

Santillana del Mar is one of the most beautiful towns on the Northern route but nearly impossible to find your way out of town. The Camino out of town goes up the hill from the main plaze passing the Posada de Organista on the right and later the camp ground on your left. There is not an albergue here but there is a camp area and several inexpensive pensions.

After Comillas, take the road that goes by Playa Oyabre and not the Camino. Kick off those boots and walk 6 kilometers in the sand and surf until you reach San Vicente de la Barquera.

Near Unquera, take the bus into the Potes and the Picos de Europa to visit the Liebena Monastery. In fact, you will be following signs through Cantabria until you reach Serdio, just beyond San Vicente, that lead you to this other pilgrimage site where the largest piece of the true cross is kept. Do yourself a favor and visit the Picos de Europa. This is the most spectacular place in Spain.

From Ribadasella, follow the beach out of town, not the road. Follow the hill up to the light house to reach Playa la Vega. There is a cheap pension on the beach called the Superman Bar. Seedy looking but great seafood and cold beer.

From Castropol ( Asturias ) to Ribadeo, your first town in Asturias, hire Pepe the captain to take you across the Rio Eo. At the moment the bridge is under construction and is off limits to pilgrims crossing it on foot. Pepe can be found in the port of Figueras - Pilgrims in the middle-ages used to cross here by boat as well.

Buen Camino del Norte
http://www.spanishsteps.com
 
if people start spaying here and there , you end up with marks all over the place, its best to have none and use your book and common sense , than be confused with lots of arrows... also there is always someone to ask too
 
I shared the post from Spanish Steps with a pilgrim on another forum and received this update:
There is now a pilgrims albergue in Santillana del mar. The albergue is brand new, it opened last summer - very clean but with many bunk beds close to each other, it feels a bit cramped inside. Excellent showers. Being located next to the collegiate church ( Colegiata santa Juliana ), one could hardly get a better location in that beautiful little town.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Last year my wife & I walked the Camino Francais from St Jean to Santiago and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This year we are making plans to walk the Northern route along the coast during April & May and would appreciate any tips regarding route finding and accommodation. Is accommodation available at most parts? Last year we averaged 27km per day but intend to take more time this year to take full advantage of the areas.
 

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