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Suitable wild camping spots along the Camino del Norte?

Peregrino2019

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2 weeks of Camino Norte in May 2019
Hi all,
I will be walking from Irun to Santander in early to late May and am hoping to camp as much as possible to keep costs down as well as for the enjoyment of sleeping outside. I will use some albergues if I feel I really need to and also for the Camino spirit (that is if there are other pilgrims there at the same time as me). I know of the laws that you can't camp less than 2km from a town and can't camp on private land etc but does anyone know of any areas suitable for camping within or outside these boundaries? I will always clean up after myself and will leave as early as i can and will leave no trace of my presence upon exit and have no interest in building any fires. Thanks!
 
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RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
Luv this! I'm going in August so, can't wait to hear what comes of this.
 
D

Deleted member 43780

Guest
I stealth camped many times on the Camino
Sure you know the proper things to NOT do: NO fires!
I didn’t smoke, no lights, no music, never over a fence or gate, asked permission when possible, etc
Used hammock or tent. No not on the same walk.
Sometimes used the alburgues for shower, clothes washing , etc. then moved on to stealth camping location.
Set up at sunset. Out by sunrise.
Never had a problem.
Location? Can’t give you a break down of where stealthed camped at. But, you will know them when you are walking.
You will develope a sense for IDing a good spot.
Sometimes I camped outside the aburgue.
Always paid the aburgue or donated.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances. 2001
Via de la plata 2008
Arles -Piemonte-Frances-Cee 2014
(Bastan-Francés) 2019
Hi all,
I will be walking from Irun to Santander in early to late May and am hoping to camp as much as possible to keep costs down as well as for the enjoyment of sleeping outside. I will use some albergues if I feel I really need to and also for the Camino spirit (that is if there are other pilgrims there at the same time as me). I know of the laws that you can't camp less than 2km from a town and can't camp on private land etc but does anyone know of any areas suitable for camping within or outside these boundaries? I will always clean up after myself and will leave as early as i can and will leave no trace of my presence upon exit and have no interest in building any fires. Thanks!
I have not walked on the Norte but I have wild camped a lot in Spain and France,Canada ,England and the United States.
I have spent easily several hundred nights out and have never had a problem with the law or with anyone else for that matter.
This works for me.
Pick a area where you will sleep. A good map can show you a place well away from any buildings. Usually I try to arrive just before dusk. I try to choose a spot on a sidehill. Too low can be cold and damp and a ridge can get nasty in a storm but sometimes you can’t be picky. I like a spot a bit away from the path and NEVER NEVER put your bed in a place that an early morning tractor, car, or motorcycle could get to.
When I have chosen a comfortable place I will leave and not return until almost dark. There is nearly always a better place nearby to snack or read or whatever until dark. Never built a fire. The locals will be rightly terrified of people building fires in hard to access places. If you want to cook find a city park with a fire station across the street. ( Old forest service smokechaser here.Forgive my rant ).
When it’s dark return to your sleeping site, and hang your pack and anything that has had food in it from a pre-rigged cord in the trees. This works well in the back country but not so well near established campgrounds where the local forgers are more highly educated.
Then just slide into your sleeping bag and enjoy.hours of solid sleep. No snorers, no flashlights in your eyes and no pilgrims heading for the bathroom for a late night flushing marathon.
In the morning be packed and gone before full daylight. If you keep your eyes open and walk quietly there’s a good chance of seeing wildlife. On the Camino Francis I walked for four hours once without seeing another pilgrim.
I like to mix camping with more conventional pilgrim lodging. I need to shower use the Wi-Fi and the pilgrims are the most interesting and the nicest people I have met. Good company .
I hope you find something in this commentary you can use. It is a technique that I find safe ,comfortable ,and economical But If you are in a place where you don’t really understand the culture and the critters ,it can be dangerous .
Good luck. Easy roads.
PS I’ve heard that in Spain travelers generally have the right to walk until dusk,sleep wherever they are, then leave at daybreak. On the Camino Francis Rioja is the only exception. But -Best be careful where you get your legal advice. And-It’s probably best not to argue fine points of trespass law with a Spanish policeman.
 

Peregrino2019

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2 weeks of Camino Norte in May 2019
I stealth camped many times on the Camino
Sure you know the proper things to NOT do: NO fires!
I didn’t smoke, no lights, no music, never over a fence or gate, asked permission when possible, etc
Used hammock or tent. No not on the same walk.
Sometimes used the alburgues for shower, clothes washing , etc. then moved on to stealth camping location.
Set up at sunset. Out by sunrise.
Never had a problem.
Location? Can’t give you a break down of where stealthed camped at. But, you will know them when you are walking.
You will develope a sense for IDing a good spot.
Sometimes I camped outside the aburgue.
Always paid the aburgue or donated.
Thanks Martyseville, all taken on board thank you!
 
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Peregrino2019

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2 weeks of Camino Norte in May 2019
I have not walked on the Norte but I have wild camped a lot in Spain and France,Canada ,England and the United States.
I have spent easily several hundred nights out and have never had a problem with the law or with anyone else for that matter.
This works for me.
Pick a area where you will sleep. A good map can show you a place well away from any buildings. Usually I try to arrive just before dusk. I try to choose a spot on a sidehill. Too low can be cold and damp and a ridge can get nasty in a storm but sometimes you can’t be picky. I like a spot a bit away from the path and NEVER NEVER put your bed in a place that an early morning tractor, car, or motorcycle could get to.
When I have chosen a comfortable place I will leave and not return until almost dark. There is nearly always a better place nearby to snack or read or whatever until dark. Never built a fire. The locals will be rightly terrified of people building fires in hard to access places. If you want to cook find a city park with a fire station across the street. ( Old forest service smokechaser here.Forgive my rant ).
When it’s dark return to your sleeping site, and hang your pack and anything that has had food in it from a pre-rigged cord in the trees. This works well in the back country but not so well near established campgrounds where the local forgers are more highly educated.
Then just slide into your sleeping bag and enjoy.hours of solid sleep. No snorers, no flashlights in your eyes and no pilgrims heading for the bathroom for a late night flushing marathon.
In the morning be packed and gone before full daylight. If you keep your eyes open and walk quietly there’s a good chance of seeing wildlife. On the Camino Francis I walked for four hours once without seeing another pilgrim.
I like to mix camping with more conventional pilgrim lodging. I need to shower use the Wi-Fi and the pilgrims are the most interesting and the nicest people I have met. Good company .
I hope you find something in this commentary you can use. It is a technique that I find safe ,comfortable ,and economical But If you are in a place where you don’t really understand the culture and the critters ,it can be dangerous .
Good luck. Easy roads.
PS I’ve heard that in Spain travelers generally have the right to walk until dusk,sleep wherever they are, then leave at daybreak. On the Camino Francis Rioja is the only exception. But -Best be careful where you get your legal advice. And-It’s probably best not to argue fine points of trespass law with a Spanish policeman.
Thank you very much Gary this advice will come in very handy i'm sure. Have no fears about me building a fire, i'm not much good at it and don't trust myself enough. The hanging bag up is to prevent people stealing it i assume or to protect against hungry mice etc? The right to walk until dusk is very handy indeed but i will be sure to stay at some of the albergues. Thank you again!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances. 2001
Via de la plata 2008
Arles -Piemonte-Frances-Cee 2014
(Bastan-Francés) 2019
Thank you very much Gary this advice will come in very handy i'm sure. Have no fears about me building a fire, i'm not much good at it and don't trust myself enough. The hanging bag up is to prevent people stealing it i assume or to protect against hungry mice etc? The right to walk until dusk is very handy indeed but i will be sure to stay at some of the albergues. Thank you again!
Hi. I’m glad you found something useful in my remarks. The reason I am more comfortable with my food hanging in the tree a bit away from where I’m sleeping involves squirrels mice bears raccoons and dogs. I want those midnight snackers trying to solve the puzzle I left hanging in the tree rather than rummaging around in
the sack that’s next to my sleeping bag. I never really considered that people might be a problem. If they’re hungry though I guess I can share.
Gary
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Check this post out. Very comprehensive information re' Camping in Spain:

This is a great video, very informative. If anyone else likes it, I'd encourage you to "like" it on Youtube (click on the youtube icon and it will redirect you). This will increase the video's visibility, and also show the author your appreciation (he won't see likes on the forum!) Although I liked samoht's post - thanks for sharing!
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
There is a reason he won't see likes on the forum. The forum exists to educate pilgrims on all the pilgrimage routes, how to walk them safely and courteously, and provides ample information on the best practice to achieve that. Wild camping may be a thing in the UK, other places in Europe and the US but it's not a "thing" in Spain, even if it's given a cute name like "stealth camping".

I know it's become a popular thing for APOC and REI outfitters to educate their members about the Camino. I recently went to a class being offered at REI by my local APOC chapter. There were maybe seven member of APOC there including myself and the presenters. The other 30 people were REI members who had gotten an email about the class. REI likes that because they get to sell gear. APOC likes that because then they get new people they can approach about joining.

The best question was asked by a backpacker who wanted to know why walking the Camino was so special instead of say backpacking through the French Alps. The presenter hemmed and hawed but just couldn't get the words out of his mouth...because it's a pilgrimage. Not a backpacking destination. There are alot of FB groups out there that also downplay the pilgrimage part because they are not religious or don't believe at all because their passion is backpacking and hiking. They probably drank the REI kool-aid.

The Camino is open to all but I think it does a disservice to tell people "how to get away" with camping. The only reason people are allowed an "overnight" stay as the dude in the video put it is because sometimes you walk until you cant walk anymore. Or you might be at a choke point in which lodging is no longer available. Or because you feel called to spend a night under the Milky Way by your Creator. But those should be the exception, not the rule. The rule is it's not kosher and it's their country so they can decide.

It's not done because you want to be frugal. Donativios are plentiful along the way for the purpose of next-to-free lodging to provide shelter for pilgrims on a budget and it's easy enough to plan your stages to go from one donativio to the next. Most are run by the Church or the State or private families. Donativio should not be interpreted as free but give what you can.

I might also add that if you have to tell someone "how to get away" with something or do it in "stealth", you are probably doing something you know to be wrong and that is not the purpose of this forum.
 
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Jan_D

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
There is a reason he won't see likes on the forum. The forum exists to educate pilgrims on all the pilgrimage routes, how to walk them safely and courteously, and provides ample information on the best practice to achieve that... that is not the purpose of this forum.

Not quite sure what to make of your message. The video is an attempt to "educate pilgrims... how to walk safely and courteously..." so imho he's providing a service. The takeaway message from the video was that camping is quite complicated and not tolerated in a couple of the main regions. He makes sure to talk about the litter left behind by pilgrims, and how reasonable the albergues are. The first few messages on this thread seem to be encouraging "stealth camping" far more than the gentleman did in the video - in fact after watching it I thought to myself, "wow that's really put me off camping." Anyway I thought it a very fair and informative video, and he had obviously done a lot of research. It's a question that a lot of people ask, and I've seen a lot of people on the camino trying to "stealth camp" without any knowledge of the local laws. I don't think there's anything wrong with thanking this obviously conscientious pilgrim from trying to share legal information on this topic - and I think that fits in very nicely with the purpose of this forum.
 

Stroller123

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning Italy to Finisterre and back (20xx)
The problem with camping is that there are people who actually enjoy it and they don't just do it to save some money. If people would stop to consider tent camping as a form of cheap accommodation or a way of cheating the hotel owners, there would be a better understanding of the phenomenon and stealth camping won't be necessary because alternative solutions would be put into place and regulated.

On top of my mind I could think of landowners (or state own land) who would reserve a small area for tent camping (strictly 1 night only), without services except maybe a compost toilet and with a donativo system in place like the albergues and, of course, open 365 days a year, not just on high season.

In this way human waste would be contained, the risk of wild fire limited and campers could be checked by authorities if needed. All of this with next to nothing financial investment as it won't fall in the business category of camping site.

But until profit is going to be the top priority that is just impossible.

Just my two cents.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
The video refers to the provincial laws and practices along the Camino Francés, not the Norte. We took a tent on the Norte and used it a few times in legitimate camping grounds (some natural locations without facilities, but signed with camping permission, as well as commercial camp grounds) and in the gardens of albergues (paying to use the facilities). However there are areas of national parks and natural beauty spots where it is strictly forbidden to camp, in any form. I understand that you will be fined if found camping in one of those spots.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
@Jan_D and @Stroller123 :
The Camino is open to all but I think it does a disservice to tell people "how to get away" with camping. The only reason people are allowed an "overnight" stay as the dude in the video put it is because sometimes you walk until you cant walk anymore. Or you might be at a choke point in which lodging is no longer available. Or because you feel called to spend a night under the Milky Way by your Creator. But those should be the exception, not the rule. The rule is it's not kosher and it's their country so they can decide.

The best practice is to simply not do it or find another route like Kanga did where there are already existing supports in place for tent-bringing campers.

This is a World UNESCO site...so what is the history that is being preserved? The ancient pilgrimage route. What is it being preserved from? From becoming a more modernized and capitalized on route. We walk through difficult terrain that presents a problem logistically for maintaining the kind of sites that Stroller123 envisions. I'm sure it's been discussed before but has not proved feasible to execute.

There are already lodging issues despite more and more albergues cropping up. Now imagine if Spain decided to embrace tent-using backpackers. How many more people would opt for that? I'm guessing droves because people do like to camp and were it legal would prefer it to traditional lodging. It will be more than campsites available for campers so I think in fact it would bring an increase to "stealth camping," pitching tents outside of Stroller123's designated areas. With the widespread knowledge that camping is now viable, if you were a criminal who would you target? Would you try to steal and rape from albergues when there were a bunch of sitting ducks in tents you could easily access, miles away from the police before the crime could be reported? If you're a sexual predator would you rather try to date rape some peregrina in a bar or would you go stalk the straggler's overflow from these designated sites and look for the weak who placed themselves away from the herd?

Spain has been protecting pilgrims for far longer than we've all been walking. As I said before, it's THEIR country and they get to decide. It is up to the rest of us to respect the country we are visiting, to abide by the laws and social norms.
 

Peregrino2019

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2 weeks of Camino Norte in May 2019
Check this post out. Very comprehensive information re' Camping in Spain:
I've watched it and that's really helped clarify some of it thanks. I'll look up the rules of the regions the Norte passes through thanks.
 
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Peregrino2019

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2 weeks of Camino Norte in May 2019
There is a reason he won't see likes on the forum. The forum exists to educate pilgrims on all the pilgrimage routes, how to walk them safely and courteously, and provides ample information on the best practice to achieve that. Wild camping may be a thing in the UK, other places in Europe and the US but it's not a "thing" in Spain, even if it's given a cute name like "stealth camping".

I know it's become a popular thing for APOC and REI outfitters to educate their members about the Camino. I recently went to a class being offered at REI by my local APOC chapter. There were maybe seven member of APOC there including myself and the presenters. The other 30 people were REI members who had gotten an email about the class. REI likes that because they get to sell gear. APOC likes that because then they get new people they can approach about joining.

The best question was asked by a backpacker who wanted to know why walking the Camino was so special instead of say backpacking through the French Alps. The presenter hemmed and hawed but just couldn't get the words out of his mouth...because it's a pilgrimage. Not a backpacking destination. There are alot of FB groups out there that also downplay the pilgrimage part because they are not religious or don't believe at all because their passion is backpacking and hiking. They probably drank the REI kool-aid.

The Camino is open to all but I think it does a disservice to tell people "how to get away" with camping. The only reason people are allowed an "overnight" stay as the dude in the video put it is because sometimes you walk until you cant walk anymore. Or you might be at a choke point in which lodging is no longer available. Or because you feel called to spend a night under the Milky Way by your Creator. But those should be the exception, not the rule. The rule is it's not kosher and it's their country so they can decide.

It's not done because you want to be frugal. Donativios are plentiful along the way for the purpose of next-to-free lodging to provide shelter for pilgrims on a budget and it's easy enough to plan your stages to go from one donativio to the next. Most are run by the Church or the State or private families. Donativio should not be interpreted as free but give what you can.

I might also add that if you have to tell someone "how to get away" with something or do it in "stealth", you are probably doing something you know to be wrong and that is not the purpose of this forum.
If i do stay at one of the donativos then I will give generously, I just genuinely prefer camping for the most part although I will stay at the albergues and donativos if necessary. Also, it's not that I want to know 'how to get away with it' as such but more how to go about it in such a way so as not to anger people. I try as much as i can to follow the 'leave no trace' mantra so rest assured i will be respectful of the environment and the people.
 

Peregrino2019

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2 weeks of Camino Norte in May 2019
The video refers to the provincial laws and practices along the Camino Francés, not the Norte. We took a tent and used it a few times in legitimate camping grounds (some natural locations without facilities, but signed with camping permission, as well as commercial camp grounds) and in the gardens of albergues (paying to use the facilities). However there are areas of national parks and natural beauty spots where it is strictly forbidden to camp, in any form. I understand that you will be fined if found camping in one of those spots.
That's what i though too but will just look up the laws on the different types of camping across the different regions. I will avoid the national parks too thanks for the heads up.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Also, it's not that I want to know 'how to get away with it' as such but more how to go about it in such a way so as not to anger people.
"The first rule of Fight Club..." If you plan to do something which is of questionable legality or which is clearly very controversial then I think one important way to avoid angering those people who object is to refrain from posting your intentions on a public forum. Wild/stealth camping is a topic which almost always provokes a heated response here. Some people clearly do. And if they do so with careful choices of location and genuinely leave no trace then it is very likely that no-one will learn of it and have grounds for complaint. But that is not going to be helped by having a discussion on suitable spots in a public space.
 
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