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starting west of the pyrenees in november


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This is my first post. I have never walked the camino, but I've long harboured a dream to do so, and an opportunity has presented itself during the month of november - yes, that's starting NEXT WEEK!
I will be walking alone. I am an experienced walker, and will have proper kit. I have read everything I can find on walking the camino in Winter - although nothing I've read mentions that month in particular. I will be walking the frances, definitely be starting (a long way!) to the west of the Pyrennes as this seems the most dangerous of the snow possibilities, and also because I will not have the time to walk that far. But there are two other significant mountain ranges, right? How do these compare to the Pyrenees in terms of their height, weather possibilities, and for refuges or other places to stay as I pass through them?
There is a practical question which concerns me too, which again is something I have not seen mentioned around the forums, so I will ask it here - usually I despise the notion that one can turn up in a foreign country and expect to get by in English - yet this is precisely what I will need to do, as I don't have time to learn much/any spanish... It feels so disrespectful somehow. Maybe the train journey down there will give me time for a crash course! Is it safe to assume that as a lone traveller I will find that people are able to speak English to help me find somewhere to sleep if I'm really stuck etc. I feel sure all you experienced pilgrims are smiling, knowing that these (irrational?) fears are the fears of a first-timer.
Something inside me is telling me that November is not the right time, the weather will be bad, it will be too difficult, you might have to give up, it will be a miserable experience.... yet the more powerful voice somehow assures me that it is 'time'.
You cannot make that decison for me, only I can do that. But your experience is invaluable.
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Jeff, I returned only last week from Logrono, which is just a few days west of Pamplona. There were lots of other pilgrims, and I would imagine many more were behind us. There are posts on Pilgrim Introductions from pilgrims starting in November, and some scattered anecdotes about walking in this month throughout the forum. The general gist is that it's quieter, some albergues are shut and there could be snow in high parts. But I'm sure you won't be alone.

I speak very, very little Spanish. Like you, I was embarrassed by this and would apologise often for it - but you will learn the essential words as you go, and there will always be another pilgrim to help out. Any pilgrim will tell you that the Camino provides what you need, when you need it - as long as you are sensible. Daylight hours will be shorter, so you need to plan your day accordingly. And when climbing any high range you MUST take heed if you're advised not to go up that day.

Buen Camino!
Sil has a very informative post about winter walking on her blog. O'Cebreiro is another mountain where the weather can become quite treacherous in the snow, and you might need great care there.
You won't find many English speakers....but if you can see the yellow arrows, your way ahead will be clear!
KiwiNomad06 said:
Sil has a very informative post about winter walking on her blog. O'Cebreiro is another mountain where the weather can become quite treacherous in the snow, and you might need great care there.
You won't find many English speakers....but if you can see the yellow arrows, your way ahead will be clear!

Good stuff Kiwi.

Jeff, just start your camino and it will all be fine. A phrase book is enough to get by. If you've walked a bit then all will be OK. Enjoy the best walk of your life!
Hi Jeff,
Personally I think the Camino Frances, like champagne, is best served chilled!
The highest point of the Camino is only about 160k from Santiago this is at the Cruz de Ferro (1505m) on the route between Rananal and Molinaseca. It can be very cold and and snowy here, even in late April, but the way is close to/parallel to a road and, once at the cross, its good to know that shelter is available is all year round 4kms away at Manjarin. There is also quite a high military presence in the area which may be handy in emergencies? Just take advice before you set out from Rananal.
The wind on the high, flat, shelterless but very beautiful Meseta could freeze the extraneous bits off a brass monkey so thermals and over trousers would be advised-even for girl monkeys!
Margaret has mentioned O'Cebreiro and Sils advice and collation of information on winter walking is really useful.
I wish you the sparkle of frost in the morning sun, sharp clear days with views for miles and joy in every steaming cup of cafe con leche.

Bonne route
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.

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