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Starting from Astorga on 24 Dec - request for input

Sha

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Xmas 2016
#1
Hi All,
I am planning on starting Camino – going solo - at Astorga on 24 December 2016, hoping to reach Santiago in 2 weeks. Based on comments made elsewhere on this wonderful forum, I was thinking to follow this plan broadly and adjust once list of albergues open for winter is released:
1. Astorga-Foncebadón: 26.2 km.
2. Foncebadón Ponferrada: 27.3 km.
3. Ponferrada-Trabadelo: 33.5 km.
4. Trabadelo Fonfría: 30.8 km.
5. Fonfría-Barbadelo: 30.9 km.
6. Barbadelo-Ventas de Narón: 32.5 km.
7. Ventas de Narón-Melide: 26.3 km
8. Melide O-Pedrouzo: 32.7 km.
9. O Pedrouzo-Santiago de Compostela: 20.1 km.

If the above is realistic (do tell?) then should I be starting before Leon (if so, where?). BTW – I picked Astorga as starting point given pilgrim comments on the Leon-Astorga stage being largely walking through city/industrial estate.

As context, I’d like to think I am reasonably walking-fit having done some hiking recently in the Himalayas and tend to do 15-20K steps a day typically.

If you have walked the Camino over xmas, I would particularly like to hear your thoughts and experience particularly for gear to carry, distance, anything else? I note that list of Albergues open for winter is not available yet. Also, recommendation for a guide book specific for winter will be much appreciated. Any other thoughts or comments gratefully received too.

Thank you,


Sha
 

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Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#2
I picked Astorga as starting point given pilgrim comments on the Leon-Astorga stage being largely walking through city/industrial estate.
You may want to spend a day touring Leon before going to Astorga but do skip the stretch in between. I could quibble about the description but won't. I liked the small stretch between La Virgen del Camino and Villar de Mazarife but I probably would not in winter.

Pilgrims in the old days used a more southerly route from Ponferrada to Santiago called the Camino de Invierno to avoid some of the mountains in winter. That is being developed more and more as an alternative to the Camino Frances. Look into it.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#3
Several of the stops you have planned will be closed. Trabadelo, Fonfria, Barbadelo, and Ventas de Naron are not likely to be open (they were closed this year in January). Foncebadon will be a "maybe." There will not be many intermediary stops for food or coffee, so have provisions for yourself. Since it will be between Christmas and the New Year, there may be a lot of unannounced closings; the hospitalero just takes a vacation. They don't wait around in winter for the one pilgrim per day that may want to stop in!! It is not a profitable time of the year, and they have lives that may extend beyond the Camino. The tourist office in Ponferrada told me that everything on the Camino Invierno was closed. That may not have been accurate, but the stages are long, so only a few places would need to close to make that route very inconvenient.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#4
BTW – I picked Astorga as starting point given pilgrim comments on the Leon-Astorga stage being largely walking through city/industrial estate.
Not at all, Sha. Maybe only first few kilometers from Leon centre to La Virgen del Camino. Entering Astorga isn't too bad also.

Otherwise I didn't walk in winter but would listen to @falcon269 and especially @mspath advices re winter Caminoing. I do find some of your stages too long for wintertime though but that also depends on your skills and abilities in long distance walking. Weather would be very unpredictable.

Anyway Buen winter Camino!
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#5
I agree that your distances were a bit ambitious, especially for that time of year. You could run into weather difficulties or conditions that make walking slower. It would be wise to plan stages to the "major" towns. Even when you get a list of presumably open albergues, there "may be a lot of unannounced closings" as @falcon269 says.

You mention that you typically walk 15-20,000 steps. That is a good activity level, but walking 30 km in the winter, day after day, may be a different story. That's why I think the Astorga start, with 14 days, is a good plan.
 

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mspath

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#6

Gillean

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven
#7
Your stages would be too long for me personally, especially in winter and especially in that area. Way too long. Way, way too long. But I'm old and grey and no expert. I can't speak to either your fitness level or your motivation. Have you confirmed your readiness by doing two practice 35 km stretches on successive days (e.g. on Monday walk 35 km and then on Tuesday walk another 35 km) using the backpack and weight you intend to carry (which will be 30 or more pounds, not 15-20)? Have you truly accounted for the winter conditions you could very likely meet in Foncebadon or O Cebreiro? Are you confident that you can navigate when the trail is obscured by snow, freezing rain, fog, darkness, etc. and you are wet and cold? Have you confirmed that there will be food and lodging available at the places you intend to stay? What if it isn't? Are you aware that the sun will rise at 8:52 am and set at 5:56 pm in Astorga on December 24th, 2016 - which means that the sun will be above the horizon for only 9 hours and 4 minutes that day?
You may want to consider walking from Pamplona to somewhere like Castrojeriz as another option over a similar distance. Or even Burgos to Astorga. If a finish in Santiago is important to you, you could consider doing the last 100 km of your walk from Sarria or Lugo or Ourense or Finisterre or El Ferrol all of which are excellent walks and would likely be doable in winter.
Sorry if this sounds a bit pompous on my part and I don't mean to discourage you from what could be a great adventure but I would suggest, from my point of view, that you will need careful, careful planning and risk mitigation to be successful.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#10
weight you intend to carry (which will be 30 or more pounds, not 15-20)
I don't think 30 pounds is necessary. I've walked in late November and start of December with my usual 6.5 kg (14 lb). If walking through winter, I would likely add just 1 kg or so (warmer sleeping bag, hat and gloves; extra pair of socks; maybe an additional base layer).
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
#11
I don't think 30 pounds is necessary. I've walked in late November and start of December with my usual 6.5 kg (14 lb). If walking through winter, I would likely add just 1 kg or so (warmer sleeping bag, hat and gloves; extra pair of socks; maybe an additional base layer).
I have not read to see if anyone has responded that has walked the end of Dec into January. As others have pointed out many places are closed. I even wonder how easy it would be to call a taxi? I would most likely pack a 1 man tent & a pad that had some thermal rating. That along with the normal extra cloths would get into the 25-28lb area. The OP could ship ahead if they could ensure a place to stay. The other issues, short daylight, heavy snow & wind.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#12
I have not read to see if anyone has responded that has walked the end of Dec into January. As others have pointed out many places are closed. I even wonder how easy it would be to call a taxi? I would most likely pack a 1 man tent & a pad that had some thermal rating. That along with the normal extra cloths would get into the 25-28lb area. The OP could ship ahead if they could ensure a place to stay. The other issues, short daylight, heavy snow & wind.
Some places are closed, but not too many (if you figure in pensions/hotels) Tenting in winter? Have you ever done it before? There was that day in the Pyrenees when I forgot my water bottle outside the tent and it was frozen solid in the morn ... Buen Camino, SY
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
#13
Some places are closed, but not too many (if you figure in pensions/hotels) Tenting in winter? Have you ever done it before? There was that day in the Pyrenees when I forgot my water bottle outside the tent and it was frozen solid in the morn ... Buen Camino, SY
Yes but now only during hunting season, our winters are well below freezing. I am too old & soft for winter tenting. Even for hunting season I try for back country cabins. Since I have not experienced Spain in the middle of winter I would just assume it could get below freezing at times.. Nice to know the pensions/hotels stay open.
 

Gillean

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven
#14
I don't think 30 pounds is necessary. I've walked in late November and start of December with my usual 6.5 kg (14 lb). If walking through winter, I would likely add just 1 kg or so (warmer sleeping bag, hat and gloves; extra pair of socks; maybe an additional base layer).
I think I might have been a little over-the-top in my original post. I don't have any experience at all in winter walking on the camino. My comments were just based on the very long distances Sha has planned and some limited experience in winter camping in North America. Okay, maybe I did have some experience in winter walking on the camino although it was actually late in May, 2013:

IMG_1376_reduced.JPG

A few kilometres past O Cebriero
 

jrm

Active Member
#15
We did that same stretch in about that same amount of time, so I don't think your distances are too out of the realm of possibility... but with the variable of winter weather it may become more of a challenge. If it' snowing and you have to "cut trail" down the pilgrim paths, it may be a difficult haul.
 

Sha

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Xmas 2016
#17
Hi All,

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions, all of them useful. Having reflected after seeing youtube vids of pilgrims, blog entries and other posts, I have decided to start in SJPdP on 24 December and walk as far as I can for a couple of weeks. The aim is to complete the remainder another time.

@SYates – thanks for the comment on pensions. This relieves pressure to walk x kms to the next open Aulberge.

  1. What is a recommended place to around 20 km from SJPdP, say 5 K short of Roncesvalles?

  2. What should I expect to be open on Sunday Christmas day and Monday 26th. I understand 26th is an important holiday as well.

  3. How easy & expensive is it to send backpacks through to next stage if you know target pension / albergue?
As always, thank you all.



Sha
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#18
Hi All,

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions, all of them useful. Having reflected after seeing youtube vids of pilgrims, blog entries and other posts, I have decided to start in SJPdP on 24 December and walk as far as I can for a couple of weeks. The aim is to complete the remainder another time.

@SYates – thanks for the comment on pensions. This relieves pressure to walk x kms to the next open Aulberge.

  1. What is a recommended place to around 20 km from SJPdP, say 5 K short of Roncesvalles?

  2. What should I expect to be open on Sunday Christmas day and Monday 26th. I understand 26th is an important holiday as well.

  3. How easy & expensive is it to send backpacks through to next stage if you know target pension / albergue?
As always, thank you all.



Sha
As to
1: none!!! There is Aubergue Orisson but it's about 8kms from SJPdP which will surely be closed on your dates. In winter it would be definitely better to take Valcarlos route with the albergue in Valcarlos (11,5kms from SJPdP). Look here: http://www.gronze.com/etapa/saint-jean-pied-port/roncesvalles
2: not much! Absolutely book in advance as Spain is very traditional catholic country and even non-religious people cherish that days as family gatherings/vacations etc. Everything will be full or closed!
3: with Jacotrans (http://www.jacotrans.com/p/english.html) it's 5€ per stage but you can also take a peek at Spanish Post (http://www.correos.es/ss/Satellite/...idioma=es_ES?idiomaWeb=en_GB#resumen-producto) but anyway there will be a lot of posters/leaflets for that kind of service on the way and in every albergue.

Ultreia!
 
Camino(s) past & future
September 2014
#19
Several of the stops you have planned will be closed. Trabadelo, Fonfria, Barbadelo, and Ventas de Naron are not likely to be open (they were closed this year in January). Foncebadon will be a "maybe." There will not be many intermediary stops for food or coffee, so have provisions for yourself. Since it will be between Christmas and the New Year, there may be a lot of unannounced closings; the hospitalero just takes a vacation. They don't wait around in winter for the one pilgrim per day that may want to stop in!! It is not a profitable time of the year, and they have lives that may extend beyond the Camino. The tourist office in Ponferrada told me that everything on the Camino Invierno was closed. That may not have been accurate, but the stages are long, so only a few places would need to close to make that route very inconvenient.
Hi falcon am doing astorga route in October any suggestions of getting there am travelling from SW UK
 

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