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Solo 40th Bivy

Fhaggis

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2024
Hello.

firstly I appreciate that some of my questions are available elsewhere on the forum but there is allot to get through so though I’d do my own thread which will hopefully answer others questions who want to do the Camino similarly to myself.

so I plan to do the Camino for my 40th, early April 2023. My wife and kids hopefully meet me at Santiago as I finish.

i am an experienced camper and would prefer to camp or bivy the way. Reading a through threads camping is not really a thing and was hoping (weather permitting April?? Advice please to maybe bivy bag most of it?) so to save weight etc I will bivy rather than camp, arriving late, leaving early etc

after reading other threads I have seen people criticised for doing/wanting to do similiar, not putting money into the economy, camping laws etc

personally, I walk all day! Not very good at stopping and for example, doing the west highland way in Scotland, with a full rucksack with tent etc I walk 20 plus miles a day over hills etc relatively easy so I don’t want to book in anywhere or plan to be anywhere as I like to walk to pretty much dusk each day.

yeah, I do experience lots and I do enjoy “marching” so don’t worry about that. I think I could manage 25 a day on the Camino (though will the heat be a big issue in April?), if I plan 25 miles a day, with maybe a day or two for rest is reasonable? Bearing in mind I hope to have my family waiting for me? Is 25 a day going fast (ish) and light to little?

Is bivying (sleeping on my roll with a sleeping bag and bivvy bag) safe and do able? Hear lots of people sleeping in church doorways etc when places are full, which is basically the same thing.

bivying isn’t about doing it cheap, it’s a bout freedom and I’ll no doubt have a few nights indoor and will be buying food from local communities.

500 miles at 25 a day is 20 days, couple of rest days and days allowing for sightseeing injuries is 22-25 realistic? My wife says I can have 30 days but genuinely feel like that might be to much and I’ll be hang around for the sake of it for flights etc

thanks for any advice

Franny
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I guess that the only thing that I can think of is when/where do you plan to shower? The Camino isn't a wilderness hike - you pass through towns, villages and cities daily, so it just seems to me that it would be polite to not be too "fragrant." 😉
 
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
If you've read through the threads on camping out, you'll have seen the problems laid out. I've done 11 Caminos and seen very little camping. This may change post-Covid.

However, 30 days is a bit short. You're talking about twenty 40km days, and unless you are a trained speed walker (or you've done march-training with the military), I would say that it's not likely that you can do it without injury. Again, with my street creds as a repeat offender, I would suggest that you shoot for 30 days minimum. Enjoy the walk!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances. 2001
Via de la plata 2008
Arles -Piemonte-Frances-Cee 2014
(Bastan-Francés) 2019
Hello.

firstly I appreciate that some of my questions are available elsewhere on the forum but there is allot to get through so though I’d do my own thread which will hopefully answer others questions who want to do the Camino similarly to myself.

so I plan to do the Camino for my 40th, early April 2023. My wife and kids hopefully meet me at Santiago as I finish.

i am an experienced camper and would prefer to camp or bivy the way. Reading a through threads camping is not really a thing and was hoping (weather permitting April?? Advice please to maybe bivy bag most of it?) so to save weight etc I will bivy rather than camp, arriving late, leaving early etc

after reading other threads I have seen people criticised for doing/wanting to do similiar, not putting money into the economy, camping laws etc

personally, I walk all day! Not very good at stopping and for example, doing the west highland way in Scotland, with a full rucksack with tent etc I walk 20 plus miles a day over hills etc relatively easy so I don’t want to book in anywhere or plan to be anywhere as I like to walk to pretty much dusk each day.

yeah, I do experience lots and I do enjoy “marching” so don’t worry about that. I think I could manage 25 a day on the Camino (though will the heat be a big issue in April?), if I plan 25 miles a day, with maybe a day or two for rest is reasonable? Bearing in mind I hope to have my family waiting for me? Is 25 a day going fast (ish) and light to little?

Is bivying (sleeping on my roll with a sleeping bag and bivvy bag) safe and do able? Hear lots of people sleeping in church doorways etc when places are full, which is basically the same thing.

bivying isn’t about doing it cheap, it’s a bout freedom and I’ll no doubt have a few nights indoor and will be buying food from local communities.

500 miles at 25 a day is 20 days, couple of rest days and days allowing for sightseeing injuries is 22-25 realistic? My wife says I can have 30 days but genuinely feel like that might be to much and I’ll be hang around for the sake of it for flights etc

thanks for any advice

Franny
You should have no problems. The extra weight it is well worth having the option of camping. I carry a light down sleeping bag, A bivy bag, and a quarter inch foam pad cut down to hips and shoulders. I’ve never needed a tent But I like to sleep out in fair weather and pay for a roof if it looks like it’s going to rain. Poncho, stick, and length of string has come in handy for unexpected showers.
I have always been able to find a comfortable place to spend the night for the arrive late leave early plan. Never had a problem.
In April in northern Spain a bit of snow is more likely than excessive heat.
Lodging in Spain is inexpensive but I like the freedom of being able to camp when I choose. I enjoy investing the extra dollars in finding interesting food.
The only part of your plan that I’m really uncomfortable with is the speed that you plan to go. I find on the Camino that you will meet good people and find places that seem almost magical if you just take the time to notice.
I love to push myself in see how fast I can cover the ground but if you don’t give yourself time to you will have missed the best part.
If you really can’t find more time maybe consider a shorter route.

On the other hand maybe it’s more important that you do it the way you want to do it. Buen Camino
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
This thread has been put in the Camino Frances section, on the assumption that Fhaggis is asking about that route, since much of the discussion seems to address the time/days needed to walk the 800 km of the Camino Frances.

@Fhaggis, you seem to have found threads about camping, but I'll summarize in case it helps. Here in this Camino Frances section you'll find a lot of discussion on walking distances, stages, sights, accommodation along the most popular route. For camping or bivying in particular, you have two easy ways to search:
  • go to the "Camping" section here, to find all the threads that were intended to focus on camping, or
  • click on the "camping" tag at the top of this page, by the name of the thread, to find miscellaneous threads in other sections of the forum that also address camping
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
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(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Interesting question @Fhaggis. I'm not sure you'll necessarily get the answers you seek here. But there will be some healthy debate I have no doubt ;)
  1. I suspect for most of the members here, walking at a slower pace and enjoying the journey more is preferred. 20-30 kms / day is more the average.
  2. And probably more a priority to most, is the opportunity to engage with other Pilgrims from all over the World.
With your preferred accommodation mode and daily distances you would seriously undermine the ability to gain any truly meaningful aspect of either 1 or 2 above. (purely in my view of course)

Of course there are members here, though I suspect a very low %, who aim for 40 km days, and will swear they have time to enjoy the sites, culture and the company of other Pilgrims. But add to that, Bivvying?

I guess it all depends on your purpose?

If it's a personal challenge to walk 800 kms in x amount of days. Then go for it!

If it's to experience a Pilgrimage? That will be a harder goal with your plan.

Route March or Pilgrimage? What's your goal?
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Just another thought @Fhaggis

I have not walked the West Highland Way, though I have walked plenty in the Lake District.

I note the West Highland Way is 154 kms.

On the Camino Frances, starting in St Jean, that would put you at about Los Arcos. I'm just warming up by then. Getting into the daily routine. I've sorted out any physical issues, getting my head in the right space etc.

So I guess what I'm saying is, planning on 40 kms / day is fine, and I'm sure the Camino Frances is a lot easier walk than the West Highland Way. But it's the constant day after day walking routine that people can struggle with physically and emotionally.

But if you have done much longer walks, I'm sure you realise this.

Just putting it out there.

Whatever you hope to find from walking The Way, may you find it :)

P.S. a couple of days contingency for injury is good to have.......
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Actually @Fhaggis , I've just spent a while looking through the sections on the West Highland Way website.
Looks great.

I expected it to be a lot harder.

But actually the terrain, elevation profiles, pathways etc are very like areas of the Camino Frances.
Just add in some wide open flat farmland sections.
And a fair bit of roadside walking. Someone will know, but maybe 25%.

And you'll feel quite at home.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
If you have 30 days and you get to Santiago in 20 you can always walk out to Fisterra and Muxia and back - and maybe squeeze in the Ingles route too! If you only have 20 days and don’t manage your plan, you might have to bus to Santiago!
 

Felice

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
I think your biggest danger is injury.
My OH is a 'serious' walker and thinks nothing of 35 km in a day over hilly terrain. He's done the Coast2coast, Pennine Way, Wainwright's tour and several other walks. But these are all short walks compared with the Camino Frances, which we both did in 2014.
However, a couple of years ago when he decided to rewalk the Frances, he had to stop at Leon as he had developed tendonitis. I think it took him about 14 days to walk the 470km from St Jean. Just before he had to stop, he had done a couple of 45km days across the meseta - it's very easy flat walking, and he did not feel at all tired so he just kept going. At the time he had no problems, but the next day his body decided to start to object. Sensibly, he stopped and came home rather than make the injury into something a lot more serious.
Asking your body to walk 40km a day for 20 days straight is asking an awful lot of it.
 
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Henry B

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016
Reads like the plan is more for a hike-through than a Camino. As such a fit 39 year old can walk 40km a day easy on terrain which is generally kind.
 

makingtrax

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
El norte2010
Portuguese 2014
Primativo 2016
Frances sept 2017!
Hello.

firstly I appreciate that some of my questions are available elsewhere on the forum but there is allot to get through so though I’d do my own thread which will hopefully answer others questions who want to do the Camino similarly to myself.

so I plan to do the Camino for my 40th, early April 2023. My wife and kids hopefully meet me at Santiago as I finish.

i am an experienced camper and would prefer to camp or bivy the way. Reading a through threads camping is not really a thing and was hoping (weather permitting April?? Advice please to maybe bivy bag most of it?) so to save weight etc I will bivy rather than camp, arriving late, leaving early etc

after reading other threads I have seen people criticised for doing/wanting to do similiar, not putting money into the economy, camping laws etc

personally, I walk all day! Not very good at stopping and for example, doing the west highland way in Scotland, with a full rucksack with tent etc I walk 20 plus miles a day over hills etc relatively easy so I don’t want to book in anywhere or plan to be anywhere as I like to walk to pretty much dusk each day.

yeah, I do experience lots and I do enjoy “marching” so don’t worry about that. I think I could manage 25 a day on the Camino (though will the heat be a big issue in April?), if I plan 25 miles a day, with maybe a day or two for rest is reasonable? Bearing in mind I hope to have my family waiting for me? Is 25 a day going fast (ish) and light to little?

Is bivying (sleeping on my roll with a sleeping bag and bivvy bag) safe and do able? Hear lots of people sleeping in church doorways etc when places are full, which is basically the same thing.

bivying isn’t about doing it cheap, it’s a bout freedom and I’ll no doubt have a few nights indoor and will be buying food from local communities.

500 miles at 25 a day is 20 days, couple of rest days and days allowing for sightseeing injuries is 22-25 realistic? My wife says I can have 30 days but genuinely feel like that might be to much and I’ll be hang around for the sake of it for flights etc

thanks for any advice

Franny
U can always use municipal and church Albergues as a base for meeting mates and shower and cooking and pay the amount t required but sleep outside where possible. That way u are contributing to economy and still independent. You dont book these just turn up.
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
Just take the 30 days with open arms and absorb as much of the camino as you can.
Instead of 40km a day, aim for more like 34-40 each day and then you'll have plenty of time and energy to go exploring in the afternoon/evenings (or middays if you are leaving the towns to bivy later in the countryside). There's so much to take in.
You may also find a few other people going that speed and really, it's nice not to have to tell your story from scratch to everyone, every single day - and then never see them again.
So many first timers, myself included, do our planning preoccupied by the distance and the walking challenge. But when we got there we found that's much less important than the people we encounter, which is so often where the magic happens. You'll just have to take our word for it!
And as Kiwi Rachel says, if your itchy feet can't slow down, then just use the time to push on to FInisterre - as that's an amazing place to finish.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I find myself in tune with Robo's responses that it sounds like you are thinking of walking a Camino in thru-hiker mode. I'd suggest thinking about what you are hoping to get from the Camino and picking a style of travel/route that is most likely to give you that. There are also a number of threads, including some quite recent ones, that compare Caminos to thru-hikes that you might find worthwhile reading.

One of the things that distinguishes the Camino (especially the Camino Frances!) from thru-hikes is the support infrastructure: the albergues, the bars, the fountains and rest stops, the community of fellow pilgrims, etc. This is why pilgrims, unlike thru-hikers, generally don't have to carry sleeping accommodations and several days with of food with them. The experience is less of a solitary encounter with nature and more of an exploration of another culture in the context of a supportive international community. There are plenty of great thru-hiking trails across Europe and around the world. There is also plenty of Caminos. Which you pick to do depends on which you are looking for.

If you are walking significantly further than other pilgrims each day, and sleeping alone outside every night, that will significantly impact your opportunities to engage with that culture and community. Of course, if that isn't what you've come looking for, that won't be a problem.

A few things I would watch for:
- As Trecile notes above, the hygiene expectations on the Camino are very different than those on a thru-hike. It is part of being in a community rather than a solo hiker in the wilderness. Pilgrims generally shower daily. That may be difficult if you are bivvying every night and if you are walking 25 km a day, you will need it sooner. :)
- Wild camping is generally not legal in most (if not all) of Spain, as you will see discussed endlessly in the various camping threads. It doesn't mean it isn't done and that people don't get away with it (as per Gary Martin above). But you should know of the legal issues before you decide whether or not you want to pay attention to them.
- If you aren't bringing a tent, be aware that April can be wet in Spain (or even snowy in parts of the Camino). It is especially wet towards the end once you cross the mountains into Galicia.
 
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Fhaggis

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2024
Thanks everyone, lots of things to consider.

the hygiene one is one I didn’t think off!

I won’t be taking a tent but a bivy, which is basically a large waterproof cover for the sleeping bag, feel that this will be a lot easier and more discreet.

also i would use local accommodation the odd time.

I don’t plan to walk 20 days straight, which I few people seem to think, I would have rest/exploring days but to be honest I’m terrible sitting around when the path is still open ahead! Same reason I basically walk until the end of the day!

being in Scotland, a lot of the paths I walk on are really good but can be abit “stony”, from what I can see the Camino has mostly really good paths? I will be walking in walking trainers (Salomons) most likely, that sound reasonable?
 

Naima bock

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Leon- Santiago 2015
Sjpd- Najera 2019
Porto- Santiago 2019

Planning to walk
Leon - Santiago
Yes I always found walking trainers a lot better than hiking boots with ankle supports although some would disagree but Ive often left my boots and just bought a pair of nikes and they were better. Salomons are also good too. I think that people sleeping out of Albuegues will be more common following the pandemic, Ive always wanted to camp along the way too.
 

Marcus-UK

Old Git
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Ingles 2016 Camino Portuguese 2017 Considering Invierno late (2020) In lieu of VdlP (2020)
Hello.

firstly I appreciate that some of my questions are available elsewhere on the forum but there is allot to get through so though I’d do my own thread which will hopefully answer others questions who want to do the Camino similarly to myself.

so I plan to do the Camino for my 40th, early April 2023. My wife and kids hopefully meet me at Santiago as I finish.



thanks for any advice

Franny
I am assuming you considering doing the Frances? The weather in April is likely to be chilly at altitude and mild lower down. It may also be quite wet especially in Gallicia. By the end of your Camino it will be warming up but not excessive in the the North.
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
You may be looking for an experience that the Camino does not provide. I'd like to suggest you also research the GR10 hiking route that starts on the Atlantic and ends at the Med. You may find this better meets your needs. It also has the benefit of passing thru St Jean Pied de Port where you'll encounter the Camino.

In fact you could start the GR10 in Hendaye and after several days hiking reach StJPdP and then decide to do the Camino. I've done both and think you might prefer the GR10. Contact me directly if you need resources for the GR10.

PS FYI the Camino is about 18,000 m of elevation gain, the GR10 closer to 50,000+. See https://www.mountainiq.com/guides/hikes-in-europe/gr10/
 
Last edited:
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RemysMimi

Hooked on the Camino!!
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2018)
Frances or Portuguese (2020)
Interesting question @Fhaggis. I'm not sure you'll necessarily get the answers you seek here. But there will be some healthy debate I have no doubt ;)
  1. I suspect for most of the members here, walking at a slower pace and enjoying the journey more is preferred. 20-30 kms / day is more the average.
  2. And probably more a priority to most, is the opportunity to engage with other Pilgrims from all over the World.
With your preferred accommodation mode and daily distances you would seriously undermine the ability to gain any truly meaningful aspect of either 1 or 2 above. (purely in my view of course)

Of course there are members here, though I suspect a very low %, who aim for 40 km days, and will swear they have time to enjoy the sites, culture and the company of other Pilgrims. But add to that, Bivvying?

I guess it all depends on your purpose?

If it's a personal challenge to walk 800 kms in x amount of days. Then go for it!

If it's to experience a Pilgrimage? That will be a harder goal with your plan.

Route March or Pilgrimage? What's your goal?
Very well said. I was about to ask similar questions.
 

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