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The path of the Via Augusta is dying from neglect and progress.

Discussion in 'Via Augusta' started by pitztop, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. pitztop

    pitztop Jim Carson

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Birmensdorf, Switzerland
    Camino(s) past & future:
    (2014) - Camino Francés (SJPP to SdC). SdC to Fisterra
    (2015) - Zurich to Geneva to Le Puy en Valais to SJPP to SdC to Muxia to Fisterra
    (2017) - Planning to walk the Via de la Plata starting in Puerto de Santa Maria at the end of April
    I'm writing this from Sevilla on the day I had planned to walk the last stage of the Via Augusta (Utrera to Sevilla). I gave up the quest yesterday after walking into Utrera and took the first train I could get to Sevilla where I will enjoy an extra day experiencing this beautiful city before starting the Via de la Plata.


    My journey on the Via Augusta began four walking days ago in El Puerto de Santa Maria instead of Cadiz - the traditional starting point. El Puerto holds special significance for me as I used to live there when I was stationed at the nearby Rota naval base when I served with the US Navy many years ago. After a day and evening recalling wonderful memories in El Puerto, I started my journey along the Via Augusta to Jerez the next morning. This was a very short stage and although I know the area, I found myself having to use a GPS track I had loaded previously onto my iPhone. Finding the right way leaving the town was a challenge. There are way marker arrows along the path, but most are hard to see and have obviously been neglected for a while. Once I arrived in Jerez, they disappeared totally. No problem; I had my GPS track and I enjoyed my evening in Jerez very much.


    The next morning I was totally reliant on my GPS to navigate my way out of Jerez onto the right track to El Cuervo de Sevilla, my next destination. I did not see a single way marker to lead me out of Jerez. Very occasionally I saw a neglected arrow along the way telling me I was on the right track as I followed my GPS. At one point my GPS track took me along side a farmers field where my GPS map told me there was a path. Unfortunately, it seems that the farmer had plowed over the track. A few kilometers outside of El Cuervo de Sevilla, I saw my first (and only) concrete marker stone, like the ones marking the way on the Camino Francés. It was brand new. Unfortunately it seemed to be pointing me in the wrong direction. I opted to follow my GPS route because it took me directly into town. As I went on this path, I found that is was being used as the town's garbage disposal area. I found out later that a new path had been defined to bring pilgrims in a much clearer way. I should have followed the arrows even though it would have added about a kilometer to my journey. No problem; all's well that ends well. I had a very pleasant stay at the Hostel Santa Ana - the only lodging in town. I got a double room with bath for a special pilgrim price of 15 Euros. Very nice!


    The next morning I started walking to Las Cabezas de San Juan, my next destination. Again, I needed my GPS track to lead me out of town and get me on the right track. There were very few way marking arrows along the way. The ones that I did see were very badly neglected and often hidden in the bushes or had fallen down is a ditch and very easy to miss. The trail led me in part along an irrigation canal which did have one or two neglected arrows along the way. I mention this because it holds significance later. After bumbling into a farmers barn yard and being barked at by about 10 dogs running free, I stumbled into the beautiful town of Las Cabezas de San Juan safe and sound. I got a wonderful holiday apartment at Hostal Las Cabezas (again the only accommodation in town) for the amazing pilgrim price of 15 Euros. It had its own bathroom and washing machine!


    What turned out to be my last day of walking was very unpleasant and dangerous. After walking 100 kilometers out of my planned 132 kilometers to Sevilla, I finally decided to give up during the last few kilometers into Utrera. From Las Cabezas de San Juan to Utrera there are NO way markers at all! No one I asked along the way seemed to know where the Camino trail was. So I just followed my GPS track. My GPS track again led me along a very long irrigation canal. There were signs saying that walking along side the canal was dangerous and prohibited, but I disregarded them. Without any markers and no other option, I continued to follow my GPS track. After all, the day before I had walked along side a canal and there had been one or two neglected way markers on that path and there were also danger signs. About 20 kilometers into my walk, a very nice local policeman drove along the canal and stopped me. My Spanish is not very good, but I got the gist of what he was saying. In effect he told me that the path I was on was dangerous and prohibited and I ran the risk of being fined (mucho dinero) if I continued. He told me to walk along the A-471 until I got to the A-4 overpass, where the train line and the canal pass underneath. From there he told me to walk the A-8030 into Utrera. So I did. Crossing over the N-4 overpass is very dangerous for a walker, but walking for 12 kilometers along a narrow two lane road with no footpath (A-8030 into Utrera) with cars and trucks swerving around me and zooming past at 100 km/h is terrifying! There were times when I had to jump off the road into the ditch to avoid being hit. There was no place to take a rest. It was then that I decided to end my Via Augusta quest. Not knowing if there was even a defined Via Augusta path between Utrera and Sevilla anymore, I didn't want to have the same experience again the next day.


    I am saddened that the Via Augusta trail itself is slowly dying from neglect and is in some places dead due to progress. I had a wonderful time in the towns I visited, but the trail itself is no longer maintained and is now a dangerous proposition in places. I had many joyful moments along the way, but I don't want to spend my Camino experience wondering if there is even a path, wondering if I am trespassing, and worried about being hit by traffic. It's just too stressful.


    I am enjoying myself in Sevilla and am very much looking forward to walking the Via de la Plata!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  2. falcon269

    falcon269 sidra; no commercial interests Donating Member

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    Quite an adventure, but, as you say, too dangerous. The whole region is filled with Roman-era sites that would fascinate pilgrims. Perhaps a local camino group can be inspired to do a little maintenance. Without lots of pilgrims, there probably is not an incentive for the junta to get inspired! Have fun. :)

    Mundicamino:
    Via Augusta

    In the development of this beautiful route, from Mundicamino, we express our sincere thanks to the Gaditana Association Jacobea "Via Augusta" city of Cadiz and its active Board of Directors, headed by its President, Luis Taboada Barberi. Thanks to your support and information, today is a reality for the enjoyment of all pilgrims of the world who decide to find out how much to offer this pilgrimage route.

    Pilgrims starting from Andalusia want to reach Santiago often, mostly, moving in means of transport to the French Way or any of the alternative that for years are emerging (Primitivo, North, Sanabrés, Portuguese, Mozarabic, etc. .).

    Another option increasingly busy, is the Via de la Plata, which runs from Seville to Astorga. Historically, the Itinerary Antonino (. S III AD) describes the course of the same: Iter ab Emerita Asturicam which started from Augusta Emerita (Merida), capital of the province Lusitania , to finish at Asturica Augusta (Astorga), capital of the Convento Asturicense .

    However, for those pilgrims from the lands south of the Peninsula, such as the provinces of Cadiz or western Malaga and Baleares, the natural route would be the so - called Via Augusta, in the section between Gades and Hispalis , ie, Cadiz and Seville.

    Via Augusta is the longest Roman road of Hispania with an approximate length of 1,500 kms. Its route ran from the Pyrenees to Cadiz, bordering the Mediterranean. Said Itinerary Antonino and cited and was the backbone of the road network in Hispania Roman. Similarly, its stages, distances and mansios they were recorded on the celebrated "Tumblers Vicarello", which were recorded the names and miles starting from Gades to end in Rome. After the Pyrenean mountain range, he remained in the Via Domitia through Gallia Narbonensis and finally the Eternal City. Its original name was the Via Augusta Julia , in honor of the emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus, who participated in its construction in the late s. I a. C.

    This Way, whose current path has inevitably been modified to prevent and asphalt roads, try to follow a schedule as consistent as possible with the story, but also trying to take advantage of paths, roads and historic glens. If we look at the original design, the towpath peregrinal would pass up Regia (today Mesas de Asta, where there are archaeological sites of that time), eleven kilometers west of Jerez. However, the lack of roads suitable for walkers and located away from the current natural route between Cadiz and Seville have advised to take the path up the recovery of acceptable alternative pathways for stocks listed below.

    The Jacobean Road called Via Augusta of the city of Cadiz to address through its bay San Fernando and Puerto Real to El Puerto de Santa María and Jerez in the Cadiz province. Are internal in Seville by El Cuervo, Lebrija, Las Cabezas de San Juan, Utrera, Alcalá de Guadaíra and Dos Hermanas (nazarena variant latter) and finally reach the river town Betis and its cathedral, which ends this section Via Augusta has been recovered as Jacobean Way to connect with the Via de la Plata.

    Currently all roads are having a major revitalization, the result of the collaboration of the various Associations of the Way of local, regional, regional and state Santiago, with the different administrations (at identical levels). This is seen when we walk in his paths. And not least the Via de la Plata, whose boom is palpable since it Seville and further as we get closer to Astorga.

    This path presented here, the Via Augusta, years ago is also having a remarkable appreciation from the point of view Jacobean, as shown by the growing number of pilgrims who come to the provincial capital to demand information.

    It also contributes to the rise of both the Camino de la Plata and the Via Augusta saturation, especially at certain times, who are suffering from other Jacobean routes, the result of the worldwide spread they are receiving. And also the fact that in winter periods the weather is fairly benign.

    Is also promoting a remarkable extent the spread of the road between Cadiz and Seville "Gaditana Association Jacobea Via Augusta", whose work information, disclosure, promotion, signage, research and collaboration with government, you are enabling the enhancement of this important "Intangible Cultural Heritage" which returns to the city of Cadiz to its Roman origins, citizenship retrieving the old road that linked Gades to Hispalis .

    It would be desirable that this important joint venture will serve as a call to all authorities involved in its design (municipalities, county councils, demarcations of costs, state agencies) for effective and coordinated mutual collaboration that results in improved Pilgrim information, placement milestones, road signs, establishment of shelters and infrastructure, etc. Finally, disseminate and add value to our rich cultural heritage. Make Way.

    Finally, we can not nor should we overlook Manuel Barea employer, partner and secretary of that association is the one who has devoted time and a commendable effort, both authorship of texts and input data and photos . Thanks Manuel.
     
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  3. pitztop

    pitztop Jim Carson

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    (2014) - Camino Francés (SJPP to SdC). SdC to Fisterra
    (2015) - Zurich to Geneva to Le Puy en Valais to SJPP to SdC to Muxia to Fisterra
    (2017) - Planning to walk the Via de la Plata starting in Puerto de Santa Maria at the end of April
    Thank you very much for this. Very interesting! The route as envisioned certainly has potential. I hope this initiative goes further and is eventually implemented. But until there is an officially defined and well marked path that pilgrims can walk safely, I do not recommend walking the Via Augusta.
     
  4. MikeJS

    MikeJS Active Member

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    Francis (2011), Norte (2012), VdlP (Apr 2016). Next - Sureste.
    Well I'm sure you will enjoy VdlP. I thought it was the best so far.
     
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  5. pitztop

    pitztop Jim Carson

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    (2014) - Camino Francés (SJPP to SdC). SdC to Fisterra
    (2015) - Zurich to Geneva to Le Puy en Valais to SJPP to SdC to Muxia to Fisterra
    (2017) - Planning to walk the Via de la Plata starting in Puerto de Santa Maria at the end of April
    Thanks Mike. I'm sure I will.
     
  6. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Sorry you had a frustrating time getting to Seville.

    Looking at the wikiloc tracks published by the Cádiz Jacobean association, it seems possible that you followed an out of date path "con flechas amarillas con la pintuura un poco vieja" which has been amended ("hay tracks en internet que te llevan por este camino [by the irrigation channel you mention] y que estan indicados como "Via Augusta etapa Cabezas de San Juan - Utrera" ¡No es por ahí!). Does sound annoyingly confusing. This is one of the association's "official" tracks:

    https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=13705932

    The marking from Seville is mostly excellent, and I hope you enjoy the Plata as much as I have (and hope to again, dv).
     
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  7. pitztop

    pitztop Jim Carson

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    (2014) - Camino Francés (SJPP to SdC). SdC to Fisterra
    (2015) - Zurich to Geneva to Le Puy en Valais to SJPP to SdC to Muxia to Fisterra
    (2017) - Planning to walk the Via de la Plata starting in Puerto de Santa Maria at the end of April
    Thank you so much for this Alan! Yes, apparently I did have the older track (leaving town from a different direction). What is interesting is that this newer track seems to take one along the main Guardalquvir canal (before and after the N-4 overpass that the canal flows under) for about three or four kilometers which is even more strictly forbidden than the canal I was walking on (even bigger and more frequent forbidden signs). The canal I was walking on runs out of this main one. I was very tempted to take this path after I walked over the N-4 over pass (instead of walking 12 kilometers on the A-8030 to Utrera), but I saw the BIG forbidden signs and didn't want the policeman to stop me a second time. It's hard to tell, but perhaps there is a path that runs close to the canal along the train line. The good news is that someone is actually looking at the situation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  8. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member Donating Member

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    A little off topic but co-incidentally, here's a very nice article from today's BBC about the ancient olive trees of the Via Augusta. Another camino to walk, well-marked or not.
     
  9. amorfati1

    amorfati1 Veteran Member Donating Member

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  10. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Way off topic, but it's a useful thing to know...
    :DObviously, embedded links are less likely to get read than copied URLs.:D
    (Amorfati1 and I are referring to the same article--which is really worth a read, by the way...)
     
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  11. bjorgts

    bjorgts Active Member Donating Member

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    Sad to hear bad news about Via Augusta. I'm a bit confused. Has it become so much worse since I walked there one and a half years ago?
    On several of the small caminos, you can not count on finding yellow arrows through the villages. So it is on Via Augusta too. You must be prepared and know beforehand where the camino goes out of town. I have walked Via Augusta twice and used the descriptions in the internet guide to find my way out of the villages. The guide has street names, and I draw on google maps before I started.
    I have never walked with GPS. When I walked Via Augusta in spring 2012, I lost my way once - way out in the olives... In autumn 2015 we found our way from Cadiz to Sevilla. The marking is not good, but we did not have big trouble finding the way.
    I have just finished a video from my walk on Via Augusta in autumn 2015. I thought of waiting a while before I posted it on YouTube, but maybe I should post it now. Maybe Via Augusta needs some advertising. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
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  12. george.g

    george.g Active Member Donating Member

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    Must agree with bjorgts, when I walked the route last year I didn't have too many problems with route finding, but didn't particularly enjoy the Camino,too much time paralleling railways or major roads. Problem seems to be, without pilgrims not much demand for infrastructure, without infrastructure not many pilgrims. However the prospect of visiting Cadiz and Jerez and only adding five days to the VdeLP is a plus.
    Regards
    George.
    PS. The Mozarabe from Almeria to Granada is a much better camino in terms of access, route and infrastructure, but is a lot longer than the Augusta.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  13. CaroleH

    CaroleH Active Member Donating Member

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    Hello bjorts, I am really trying to find out about the Via Augusta for 2018, since my husband and I plan on staying at Lebrija for some time and wish to walk from Cadiz to Sevilla plus explore any Roman ruins in the area. We are happy to do research on the route, and report back to the Forum, but being in our 70s, I'm getting discouraged by talk of 'danger, police, dogs, lack of signage, etc' .

    Maybe it's been talked about in another stream, but I'm looking for a guide to the Augustus preferably in English. Which guide is it that has the street names out of towns. I remember the Camino del Sur didn't have the way through towns arrowed either, but that is OK if one has the name of the exit street I guess.
    Thanks in advance to anyone who can help...
    Buen camino, Carole
     
  14. CaroleH

    CaroleH Active Member Donating Member

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    We'll be around the Via Augusta area long enough in 2018 to do research on accommodation and to meet with the Amigos in Cadiz with a view to encouraging more local support and possibilities of future albergues.
    There seems to be a lot of pilgrims asking about this route so I think... if infrastructure is developed, pilgrims will come. We've seen it happen on the VdlP and the Madrid.
     
  15. CaroleH

    CaroleH Active Member Donating Member

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