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Roads v Paths

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Davybhoy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (August 2019)
Hi all...first post..... two questions, though they are linked.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has ever posted on these forums. There is a wealth of information here, which i have found infinitely useful

We are planning our Camino for August/September and I have read elsewhere that much of the Camino is actually along the roadside rather than the "romanticised" paths through the hills, fields and forests. Is this true? If so, can someone give me a guesstimate or approximate % for each eg 50% along roads 50% along paths. By roads I am referring to roads with a reasonable amount of traffic rather than country roads/trails where there may be a car once an hour! It won't affect our plans but I like to know what I am in for!

Secondly, for a variety of reasons one of our party may only be able to travel for 2-3 weeks. In terms of scenic beauty where do you consider the best area to be? The start through the Pyrenees? or elsewhere?

Thanks for your help!

Davybhoy
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I guess you are asking about the Camino Frances in which case both Brierley and www.gronze.com are fairly reliable resources on the percentage of asphalt to mud for any given stretch. The Camino follows roads because the roads follow the camino... Medieval pilgrims chose the easiest route to Santiago in much the same way as modern road builders choose their routes through any given landscape. Much effort has been made over many years to reduce the interaction of pilgrims and hard core traffic. Sometimes you will walk within sight or hearing of a motorway, sometimes you will be sent on a totally preposterous round-about route just to avoid a few hundred metres of highway. It is all just Camino and nothing to be concerned by.

As for your friend with limited walking time their question is are they making pilgrimage to the tomb of Santiago or looking for a scenic hike? Scenic hikes are available in many places; Santiago remains and waits. Two to three weeks - start in Leon. The hike over the Pyrenean foothills from St Jean pied de Porte to Roncesvalles is very pretty when it isn't raining.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I guess you are asking about the Camino Frances in which case both Brierley and www.gronze.com are fairly reliable resources on the percentage of asphalt to mud for any given stretch. The Camino follows roads because the roads follow the camino... Medieval pilgrims chose the easiest route to Santiago in much the same way as modern road builders choose their routes through any given landscape. Much effort has been made over many years to reduce the interaction of pilgrims and hard core traffic. Sometimes you will walk within sight or hearing of a motorway, sometimes you will be sent on a totally preposterous round-about route just to avoid a few hundred metres of highway. It is all just Camino and nothing to be concerned by.

As for your friend with limited walking time their question is are they making pilgrimage to the tomb of Santiago or looking for a scenic hike? Scenic hikes are available in many places; Santiago remains and waits. Two to three weeks - start in Leon. The hike over the Pyrenean foothills from St Jean pied de Porte to Roncesvalles is very pretty when it isn't raining.
Just wondering where in Gronze can you find the breakdown of trail surfaces? To be honest I always keep thinking that I need to explore the site more. When I am doing a Camino I always check for Albergue reviews, distances and elevation. Thanks in advance.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Hi all...first post..... two questions, though they are linked.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has ever posted on these forums. There is a wealth of information here, which i have found infinitely useful

We are planning our Camino for August/September and I have read elsewhere that much of the Camino is actually along the roadside rather than the "romanticised" paths through the hills, fields and forests. Is this true? If so, can someone give me a guesstimate or approximate % for each eg 50% along roads 50% along paths. By roads I am referring to roads with a reasonable amount of traffic rather than country roads/trails where there may be a car once an hour! It won't affect our plans but I like to know what I am in for!

Secondly, for a variety of reasons one of our party may only be able to travel for 2-3 weeks. In terms of scenic beauty where do you consider the best area to be? The start through the Pyrenees? or elsewhere?

Thanks for your help!

Davybhoy
Something else that may help you get a feel for the various walking surfaces and routes is John Sikora's YouTube video series on the Camino Frances, "Camino de Santiago Day by Day by GoPro". The videos are a step-by-step walk on almost all the 'stages'.

These videos show virtually every step walked, but instead of 8 or 9 hours per stage, John did a wonderful job using 'Hyperlapse' (a type of smooth fast-forward) to edit the videos so that each video only lasts between 20 and 30 minutes.

AT any rate, view these videos and you will get a good look at what you are hoping to find out about. :)
 

Nana6

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
France ( 2020)
Just wondering where in Gronze can you find the breakdown of trail surfaces? To be honest I always keep thinking that I need to explore the site more. When I am doing a Camino I always check for Albergue reviews, distances and elevation. Thanks in advance.
Following.
I also am having difficulty understanding gronze
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
I recommend starting from St Jean. After 2-3 weeks you will have enjoyed some pretty diverse scenery. The advantage of this is that your friend can return sometime and finish the stretch to Santiago.
I did it in 3 yearly stages, starting with the last third from Ponferrada, and finishing with the first third. I regretted that approach from the outset, once I had met people who had started in SJPdP. Others may disagree.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Just wondering where in Gronze can you find the breakdown of trail surfaces? To be honest I always keep thinking that I need to explore the site more. When I am doing a Camino I always check for Albergue reviews, distances and elevation. Thanks in advance.
Not a metre by metre breakdown but in the header row for each stage there is a star-rating for "Paisaje/Naturaleza: "
 

Dorpie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
Welcome to the forum @Davybhoy

Your question is a good one. While guides can tell you what percentage of the time you're walking on or next to roads they may not give a great idea of how busy they are. As a Brit coming from a nation nearly half the size with getting on for double the population of Spain I was struck by how quiet the roads were. So for me other than on approach to the bigger towns on the route traffic really wasn't a concern at all, on some sections you'd see maybe a car as little as every five minutes. So to answer your question of time spent on or near busy roads vs everything else I'd guesstimate something around a 15-85 split and even that may be an overestimate.

As for your scenic beauty question that depends a bit on what you consider beautiful. Again as a Brit from a small country I find the Meseta breathtaking with its big skies but as an Australian (depending on which bit you're from) that might be more of the same for you and certainly isn't everyone's favourite. If I absolutely had to choose, I'd do the last three weeks rather than the first three but that's more because I absolutely love Galicia rather than disliking the Pyrenees. There's also something about arriving in the cathedral square in Santiago with a group of great friends old or new that I think is not to be missed.

@davebugg 's recomendation of John Sikora's videos is a good on, what he's too modest to say is that he did us all the huge favour of being a cameraman for them.

Buen Camino,

Rob.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Hi all...first post..... two questions, though they are linked.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has ever posted on these forums. There is a wealth of information here, which i have found infinitely useful

We are planning our Camino for August/September and I have read elsewhere that much of the Camino is actually along the roadside rather than the "romanticised" paths through the hills, fields and forests. Is this true? If so, can someone give me a guesstimate or approximate % for each eg 50% along roads 50% along paths. By roads I am referring to roads with a reasonable amount of traffic rather than country roads/trails where there may be a car once an hour! It won't affect our plans but I like to know what I am in for!

Secondly, for a variety of reasons one of our party may only be able to travel for 2-3 weeks. In terms of scenic beauty where do you consider the best area to be? The start through the Pyrenees? or elsewhere?

Thanks for your help!

Davybhoy
Where you start and finish is often determined by how easy it is to to get to and from. For this reason many people start in the larger cities, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon where it is easy to travel to from Madrid.
St Jean is not actually the easiest to get to via Spain, but reasonable from France.
In my opinion they are all good walking, but I always like the mountains and hills (there is a sense of drama to mountains).
The time of year can make a difference to how scenic each stretch is, in spring the flowers on the Meseta are amazing, but in autumn you will see grapes on the vine, and sunflowers in the Rioja region.
There are some long stretches on paths beside the road, but check a Brierley for alternative routes.
What I hated most was walking in and out of cities, most times they were a destination and I only walked halfway each day, but those I walked right through (Logrono) were tough on my feet and psyche and I was pleased to walk on a gravel path after that
We are headed to Leon in September, I have chosen that start point to give a couple of days build up for my husband and grandson before we hit the mountains. I know the first day is not great, but it is a tradeoff for easing us into walking. And Leon itself is lovely and worth a look. They want a Compostela as well, so that is also sometimes a deciding factor.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Not a metre by metre breakdown but in the header row for each stage there is a star-rating for "Paisaje/Naturaleza: "
Got it. Thanks. But there isn't a breakdown similar to Brierley with the road surfaces.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Not that I am aware of. The Brierley suggestion is the best one I read here. At the start of each days' segment, there is an assessment of the distance, elevation gain, type of road surfaces and percentage, etc. Most folks, myself included, rarely look at this information. But it is there. It is reliable, and we should probably pay it more attention, than where the next bar is... just sayin...

My observation, based on experience on the Frances is that, overall, from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, I would estimate 30 percent on some hard road surface, vs, 70 percent on a dedicated senda or trail that was not intended as a road. Of that 30 percent, perhaps a third (10 % overall) would be road walking on the shoulder / verge of a provincial highway, having trucks and bus traffic oncoming.

The remaining two thirds of the 30 percent, or perhaps about 20 percent overall, would be road walking on very quiet and non-trafficked country roads. On these tertiary routes, you might see a handful of cars or agricultural machinery per hour.

On the Frances, the incidence of having to walk against traffic on a busy stretch of highway is rather small, when compared to the first third or so of the Camino Portuguese coming out of Lisbon. In my experience, there is far more busy road walking involved there. The Brierely Guide usually presents an alternative route to avoid busy road walking.

Hope this helps.
 

c0484

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Hi all...first post..... two questions, though they are linked.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has ever posted on these forums. There is a wealth of information here, which i have found infinitely useful

We are planning our Camino for August/September and I have read elsewhere that much of the Camino is actually along the roadside rather than the "romanticised" paths through the hills, fields and forests. Is this true? If so, can someone give me a guesstimate or approximate % for each eg 50% along roads 50% along paths. By roads I am referring to roads with a reasonable amount of traffic rather than country roads/trails where there may be a car once an hour! It won't affect our plans but I like to know what I am in for!

Secondly, for a variety of reasons one of our party may only be able to travel for 2-3 weeks. In terms of scenic beauty where do you consider the best area to be? The start through the Pyrenees? or elsewhere?

Thanks for your help!

Davybhoy
In theory the roads were built over the old Roman Roads that St. James would have walked. I do not care for walking on the roads during the summer months because they radiate heat, especially through your footwear.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
one of our party may only be able to travel for 2-3 weeks. In terms of scenic beauty where do you consider the best area to be? The start through the Pyrenees? or elsewhere?
The actual start of the pilgrimage routes was the far eastern edge of Catholic Europe, that is, Warsaw, Bratislava, etc. People started from their own front doors or their parish church. So the "Starting point is SJPP" is a misnomer; there are marked routes stretching all over Europe. That being said, there is a very scenic 3-week stretch from Le Puy in France to Cahors, with zero highway walking. This section has good transit connections and traverses many of the most beautiful villages in France. The good people in this forum recommended that I start there, and they had good reason!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
In theory the roads were built over the old Roman Roads that St. James would have walked.
I think medieval pilgrims are likely to have walked the Roman Roads. I'm not so sure about St. James. I believe he arrived in Galicia by boat when he started preaching there (you can see a hilltop where he is supposed to have preached in Padron, on the Camino Portugues). Did he make it to other parts of Iberia outside of Galicia while he was alive? After he was martyred, legend has it that he came back to Galicia by "stone boat", which I always pictured as a boat made out of stone, which would be pretty miraculous. An alternate explanation of a boat carrying stone for building makes a little more sense. From then on, he has appeared in various parts of Spain, at battles, performing miracles for pilgrims, etc. I don't think he is walking on roads for these appearances, though.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
The actual start of the pilgrimage routes was the far eastern edge of Catholic Europe, that is, Warsaw, Bratislava, etc. People started from their own front doors or their parish church. So the "Starting point is SJPP" is a misnomer; there are marked routes stretching all over Europe. That being said, there is a very scenic 3-week stretch from Le Puy in France to Cahors, with zero highway walking. This section has good transit connections and traverses many of the most beautiful villages in France. The good people in this forum recommended that I start there, and they had good reason!
I think your first sentence is contradicted by your second. Warsaw, Bratislava, etc. were only starting points for citizens of those cities. Nobody was travelling from London or Paris to Warsaw to start their pilgrimage.

Of course, the OP could have been asking about the Camino Frances, that being the camino this particular forum is dedicated to. If we are going to define the "Camino Frances" as that route which comes from France and is not the Camino Aragones, and, as well, is not the specific Via Podiensis from Le Puy, the Via Turonensis from Paris and Tours, or the Via Lemovicensis from Vezelay, then Ostabat is where the three merge and become the Camino Frances. But that would be too pedantic for a forum like this.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
Hi all...first post..... two questions, though they are linked.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has ever posted on these forums. There is a wealth of information here, which i have found infinitely useful

We are planning our Camino for August/September and I have read elsewhere that much of the Camino is actually along the roadside rather than the "romanticised" paths through the hills, fields and forests. Is this true? If so, can someone give me a guesstimate or approximate % for each eg 50% along roads 50% along paths. By roads I am referring to roads with a reasonable amount of traffic rather than country roads/trails where there may be a car once an hour! It won't affect our plans but I like to know what I am in for!

Secondly, for a variety of reasons one of our party may only be able to travel for 2-3 weeks. In terms of scenic beauty where do you consider the best area to be? The start through the Pyrenees? or elsewhere?

Thanks for your help!

Davybhoy
Brierley's book with maps tells you the surface percentage for each stage.
 

willydp

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inglés 7-12 June 2019
I would start in SJPdP if you intend to walk the complete Francés in multiple times and you don't need a Compostela right away 😊
Just my 2 pence thinking 😉
Buen Camino 👣
 

Davybhoy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (August 2019)
Thank You so much to everyone for your help & tips!

I have checked the Gronze site which is a gold dust find! I've also taken on board the Brierley guide, which I hadn't heard of but will now look up and try and get a copy.

Thanks again!
Buen Camino

Davybhoy
 

Davybhoy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (August 2019)
My observation, based on experience on the Frances is that, overall, from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, I would estimate 30 percent on some hard road surface, vs, 70 percent on a dedicated senda or trail that was not intended as a road. Of that 30 percent, perhaps a third (10 % overall) would be road walking on the shoulder / verge of a provincial highway, having trucks and bus traffic oncoming.

The remaining two thirds of the 30 percent, or perhaps about 20 percent overall, would be road walking on very quiet and non-trafficked country roads. On these tertiary routes, you might see a handful of cars or agricultural machinery per hour.

On the Frances, the incidence of having to walk against traffic on a busy stretch of highway is rather small, when compared to the first third or so of the Camino Portuguese coming out of Lisbon. In my experience, there is far more busy road walking involved there. The Brierely Guide usually presents an alternative route to avoid busy road walking.

Hope this helps.
This is exactly the type of reply I was looking for, @t2andreo !! Thank you for taking the time - It is indeed very helpful!

Davybhoy
 

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