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Some questions about stages, distances and etc. on VDLP

2020 Camino Guides

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
Hi Everyone,

I am thinking seriously of walking the VDLP starting late October/early November of 2019 or late February/early March 2020. Want to avoid the extreme heats. I get the impression that these times have more people walking. That would be nice to see people in the evenings. I like walking alone during the day. Walked the Norte and it was beautiful. The problem came in the evenings. After walking for about 3 weeks stuff seems to start to come up for me and it is nice to talk to other pilgrims at night because most everyone just gets what you are feeling and saying intuitively. The last about 2 weeks on the Norte I rarely met anyone in the albergues at night, or they didn't speak English or Spanish. So most nights there really was no one to share with Also I am turning 65 in a few weeks and I do not want to and for the most part can't walk really long distances anymore. There is no way I can do 35-40K in a day. I still can do 27-31ish if I have to but I don't want to. I like to keep my stages under 25K if possible. Time is not an issue. If I need more time to do shorter stages so be it.
So here are my questions:
After looking over Gronze and the Wise Pilgrim app it seems that I can probably avoid any stages of more than 30K. I also have no problem to walk two really short stages to avoid a really long stage afterwards. It is obvious that the services although adequate are not the CF, Portuguese or even the Norte. At either of the times that I wish to walk will most of the albergues or cheaper Pensions be open. (I like to stay in albergues as I just like the auberge spirit find it easier to connect with Pilgrims in that setting and I do have budget considerations also).
Will it be doable to break down my stages into the distances that I mentioned earlier?
As I said, am I correct that there are a decent amount of pilgrims walking at that time of the year? A good friend that I met a few years ago on the Portuguese walked into the San Martin Pinario restaurant in Santiago after I walked the Norte in November. It was amazing to run into him. He just finished the VDLP. He said he had to walk very long stages sometimes because of there being many closed albergues. He also said many, many nights he was alone. He started in the middle of September. Again it would be nice to have pilgrims to meet in the evenings.
If there are more people walking is there ever a worry about full albergues?
I assume the weather is much wetter in the Spring, can you walk with trail runners or will I need boots? I like to walk in trail runners.
Finally when I get to the section where you can head north to Astorga or continue on the VDLA which path would you recommend. It would be nice to visit Astorga again and the walk through Galicia is beautiful, but does that add more time? Usually I think that whatever Camino I start that is the Camino I finish on. So my inclination is to just stay on the VDLP to Santiago.

I know that for some questions like weather and occupancy of Albergues, are hard to really answer with certainty. You just can't predict the weather or the number of fellow pilgrims. So my questions are "broadly speaking".
Thanks a lot to all.
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
I really do not think you should be afraid about full albergues, but which one is open you should check on www. gronze.com. When I walked in May 2011 the albergues were really full, but I guess that was all the people not walking in the holy year 2010. There are some post in the forum about winterwalking on VdlP.
 

intrepidtraveler

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Madrid, Frances and Finisterre (2015)
Camino Norte-2017; Camino Ingles from A Coruna - 2017
If you want company in the evening on the VDLP you probably want to walk it March-May. Not sure if February might be too early. Hopefully some of the forum members who have walked in February will share their experience.

I walked it in 2018 (an unusually cool, wet year) from the end of May until early July. One of my pre-Camino concerns was not having company in the evenings. It turned out not to be the case. There were enough people around to be interesting but never a bed race. Most years June would be uncomfortably hot so pay attention to the weather trend for whichever year you choose.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
If you want company in the evening on the VDLP you probably want to walk it March-May. Not sure if February might be too early. Hopefully some of the forum members who have walked in February will share their experience.

I walked it in 2018 (an unusually cool, wet year) from the end of May until early July. One of my pre-Camino concerns was not having company in the evenings. It turned out not to be the case. There were enough people around to be interesting but never a bed race. Most years June would be uncomfortably hot so pay attention to the weather trend for whichever year you choose.
Yes I would want to be done by the end of April at the latest.
 

happymarkos

HappyMark
Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
Hi Everyone,

I am thinking seriously of walking the VDLP starting late October/early November of 2019 or late February/early March 2020. Want to avoid the extreme heats. I get the impression that these times have more people walking. That would be nice to see people in the evenings. I like walking alone during the day. Walked the Norte and it was beautiful. The problem came in the evenings. After walking for about 3 weeks stuff seems to start to come up for me and it is nice to talk to other pilgrims at night because most everyone just gets what you are feeling and saying intuitively. The last about 2 weeks on the Norte I rarely met anyone in the albergues at night, or they didn't speak English or Spanish. So most nights there really was no one to share with Also I am turning 65 in a few weeks and I do not want to and for the most part can't walk really long distances anymore. There is no way I can do 35-40K in a day. I still can do 27-31ish if I have to but I don't want to. I like to keep my stages under 25K if possible. Time is not an issue. If I need more time to do shorter stages so be it.
So here are my questions:
After looking over Gronze and the Wise Pilgrim app it seems that I can probably avoid any stages of more than 30K. I also have no problem to walk two really short stages to avoid a really long stage afterwards. It is obvious that the services although adequate are not the CF, Portuguese or even the Norte. At either of the times that I wish to walk will most of the albergues or cheaper Pensions be open. (I like to stay in albergues as I just like the auberge spirit find it easier to connect with Pilgrims in that setting and I do have budget considerations also).
Will it be doable to break down my stages into the distances that I mentioned earlier?
As I said, am I correct that there are a decent amount of pilgrims walking at that time of the year? A good friend that I met a few years ago on the Portuguese walked into the San Martin Pinario restaurant in Santiago after I walked the Norte in November. It was amazing to run into him. He just finished the VDLP. He said he had to walk very long stages sometimes because of there being many closed albergues. He also said many, many nights he was alone. He started in the middle of September. Again it would be nice to have pilgrims to meet in the evenings.
If there are more people walking is there ever a worry about full albergues?
I assume the weather is much wetter in the Spring, can you walk with trail runners or will I need boots? I like to walk in trail runners.
Finally when I get to the section where you can head north to Astorga or continue on the VDLA which path would you recommend. It would be nice to visit Astorga again and the walk through Galicia is beautiful, but does that add more time? Usually I think that whatever Camino I start that is the Camino I finish on. So my inclination is to just stay on the VDLP to Santiago.

I know that for some questions like weather and occupancy of Albergues, are hard to really answer with certainty. You just can't predict the weather or the number of fellow pilgrims. So my questions are "broadly speaking".
Thanks a lot to all.
There are a lot of questions. I will try and answer several.
It will be very cold both early in the year and at the end. Walked through Galicia on the CF early November 2018 with snow and lots of rain. Many albergues closed. I walked VDLP also last year starting late March. Lots of streams to cross so people with low cut footwear had to remove or walk through and get wet. I had Lowa Renegade’s so no problem also with mud.
Was hot by mid May with temperatures peaking around 2-3pm so if starting by 8pm can usually finish before then. Re age. I am 75 and aim for around 20km if possible. Could manage by careful planning and occasionally catching a bus for 8-10 km then joining the Camino.
Lots of people walking. More than I expected. Plenty of beds and people who spoke English. Was able though to walk on my own most times which is my preference.
In summary if you want early suggest early March although if like 2018 it could be really wet. If you want late start late September so there will be many places open up until end October.
I plan to start Salamanca this year in late April and take the alternative through Galicia although weather may cause a change of plans.
Hope this helps
Happymark
 

Angie S

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part/s of the Camino de Santiago-Camino Frances (2018)
You seem to have picked the coldest time of year. In February don't imagine that it won't be very cold and or windy in some of the higher ground because its pretty damn cold here at the moment. (I'm on the edge of the Sierra de Aracena) (Sunny today) So do check that out before you set off. I can't offer you a bed as I'm not on that part of the ruta but if you decide to go on the Huelva extension please feel free to contact me.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
There are a lot of questions. I will try and answer several.
It will be very cold both early in the year and at the end. Walked through Galicia on the CF early November 2018 with snow and lots of rain. Many albergues closed. I walked VDLP also last year starting late March. Lots of streams to cross so people with low cut footwear had to remove or walk through and get wet. I had Lowa Renegade’s so no problem also with mud.
Was hot by mid May with temperatures peaking around 2-3pm so if starting by 8pm can usually finish before then. Re age. I am 75 and aim for around 20km if possible. Could manage by careful planning and occasionally catching a bus for 8-10 km then joining the Camino.
Lots of people walking. More than I expected. Plenty of beds and people who spoke English. Was able though to walk on my own most times which is my preference.
In summary if you want early suggest early March although if like 2018 it could be really wet. If you want late start late September so there will be many places open up until end October.
I plan to start Salamanca this year in late April and take the alternative through Galicia although weather may cause a change of plans.
Hope this helps
Happymark
Hi Happy Mark It does help. I do worry a little about the streams and rain but you can't predict anything and it wouldn't be the first time my feet were completely soaked all day. If I walk in the Spring I would start at or close to March 1. Don't mind cold. Would much rather it be too cold than too hot. It would be the same if I went in the fall. I would probably start around November 1. I too experienced the same weather in Galicia during that time of the year. We are on the same page about distances, although my range is still up to about 25k a day. Encouraging words so thanks so much.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
You seem to have picked the coldest time of year. In February don't imagine that it won't be very cold and or windy in some of the higher ground because its pretty damn cold here at the moment. (I'm on the edge of the Sierra de Aracena) (Sunny today) So do check that out before you set off. I can't offer you a bed as I'm not on that part of the ruta but if you decide to go on the Huelva extension please feel free to contact me.
Thanks Angie but I will not be starting out until next year. As I said below to another pilgrim response. I would rather walk when it is cold than when it is hot. I can handle that a lot better. Buen Camino.
 

musicman

Ensuitepilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
We started in Mid April from Sevilla - weather was fine.
End point - go the way of the Sanabres rather than up to Astoria .
Great stretch - have a day off in Ourense.
Buen Camino.
 

CharlieWart

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2018)
I ran just the last section from Ourense last August (in one long day), and only passed maybe a dozen pilgrims all day actually out walking -- so you should be fine if you prefer to walk alone, but I guess that means there wouldn't be so many people to talk to in the evenings, especially at a less popular time of year. Of course I won't have seen the ones in cafes, or already resting up for the day, etc.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
You seem to have picked the coldest time of year. In February don't imagine that it won't be very cold and or windy in some of the higher ground because its pretty damn cold here at the moment. (I'm on the edge of the Sierra de Aracena) (Sunny today) So do check that out before you set off. I can't offer you a bed as I'm not on that part of the ruta but if you decide to go on the Huelva extension please feel free to contact me.
Thanks for the offer but I have not left yet hahaha. Thinking of doing it November 2019 or late February or early March 2020. Take care and Buen camino
 

JR9162

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (5/1/2018 - 1007 km in 39 days)
Camino France's (4/10/2019)
My cousin and I walked VdlP from Mar 22 to Apr 30, 2018. We experienced sunny hot days, wind from the west, rain, flooding, mud, and snow. We completed the 1007 kilometers in 39 days. There are sections of the Camino that are remote and the albergues are farther apart than on the Camino Frances. During Easter you will encounter more people on the trail than usual. We only had one experience where all the albergues were full. We traveled from Seville to Astorga and then west to Santiago. Met only 4 other Americans during that portion of the trail. Once we arrived in Astorga, the story was different. Take two or more credentials if you plan on two or more stamps per day. One isn't enough. You will need a third if you decide on going to Muxia and / or Finisterre. In the spring the farmers are pruning both the olive trees and the vineyards. They often burn the prunings. You will also travel through cork oak groves. Listen for the cuckoo birds and prepare to see storks everywhere. I imagine the timeframe you mention will afford you less contact with pilgrims than we experienced and more severe weather.

Have a great time
 

JR9162

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (5/1/2018 - 1007 km in 39 days)
Camino France's (4/10/2019)
Another note, in the spring you need boots and trekking poles. There will be lots of mud, and fording of streams and runoff / puddles. The trail is the same distance regardless of which fork you take, we went to Astorga because my cousin wanted me to experience that portion of the trail. Our compostelas still say VdlP.
 

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
This is all about stream crossings! Last April, starting from Merida, I encountered several fast flowing streams. High concrete stepping stones had been constructed to help pilgrims across. I was on my own (aged 73) and quite frightened of crossing. Once two workmen who had stopped for a picnic lunch helped me across. I later met a Korean girl who had fallen in at this crossing and badly bruised her leg. Apart from this, I had a lovely time. I had downloaded all the local ALSA bus timetables in order to shorten stages.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
My cousin and I walked VdlP from Mar 22 to Apr 30, 2018. We experienced sunny hot days, wind from the west, rain, flooding, mud, and snow. We completed the 1007 kilometers in 39 days. There are sections of the Camino that are remote and the albergues are farther apart than on the Camino Frances. During Easter you will encounter more people on the trail than usual. We only had one experience where all the albergues were full. We traveled from Seville to Astorga and then west to Santiago. Met only 4 other Americans during that portion of the trail. Once we arrived in Astorga, the story was different. Take two or more credentials if you plan on two or more stamps per day. One isn't enough. You will need a third if you decide on going to Muxia and / or Finisterre. In the spring the farmers are pruning both the olive trees and the vineyards. They often burn the prunings. You will also travel through cork oak groves. Listen for the cuckoo birds and prepare to see storks everywhere. I imagine the timeframe you mention will afford you less contact with pilgrims than we experienced and more severe weather.

Have a great time
Thanks for all the great information. I am sure I will need more than 39 days. I will run up against Semana Santa so I will have to remember that.
 

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