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Valcarlos route

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I will be walking the Camino Frances again this year. I have previously done the Napoleon route and am planning on taking the Valcarlos route this year. It looks relatively gentle compared to the Napoleon. I am curious as to how long it took you to walk to Valcarlos. I will be arriving in SJPdP (April 12th) late afternoon and was thinking of walking to Valcarlos that afternoon and evening.

Obviously I will take into consideration the weather. It looks like around 11-12 km's.

Thank you to anyone who is willing to share their experience.

Joe
 
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Bradypus

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Year of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
I walked from St Jean to Roncesvalles via Valcarlos in September. I left St Jean at about 8am and reached Valcarlos at about 11am. Short break there then carried on to Roncesvalles - arrived there between 3 and 4pm. An Englishman of 73 in the same albergue overnight also walked that route on that day and only reached Roncesvalles later than me because he stopped to help a much younger German man struggling with an oversized pack and shortage of water.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I can't remember our time over that stretch exactly but my wife has a pace across terrain like that of about 2 mph so it probably took us 3.5 to 4 hours. We were the slow ones on the camino. SJPdP to SdC took us 48 walking days and in that time I remember us passing only one pilgrim who was moving at the time. So SJPdP to Valcarlos shouldn't take you much longer than 4 hours.
 
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WildPlace

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, 2015
Via de la Plata (2021)
September 2015 walking with two friends who didn't have much walking experience - it took us just short of 5 hours and I clocked just over 7 miles - we stopped a lot!

I found the next days walk very difficult but think I was dehydrated when I started, it was also a hot day and I ran out of the water I was carrying and felt just awful! Walked to Roncesvalles from Valcarlos in 5 and 3/4 hours I clocked around 7 and 3/4 miles - most of which was uphill!
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
I left St. Jean at 08.20 on April 19th and arrived in Valcarlos at 11.10, had a snack break, decided not to stay and headed for Roncesvalles, arrived at 16.30 approx. If I was to walk it again this early in the year I would not leave the road after Valcarlos, where the trail plunges down to the ravine and back up again, as it was wet and muddy from rain, and was hard going. This route cuts the corner of the road but IMO is not worth the couple of kilometers you save, I would stay on the road, not as pretty, but easier.
Buen Camino Joe.
 
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Hi Joe, I left SJPDP (end March, 2015) at around midday and ambled along in the sunshine enjoying the views and the wildlife scuttling across my path. I had long stops to write postcards (so I could post them in France before crossing the border into Spain) and for a late picnic lunch. I got a bit confused when I reached Arneguy shopping complex, but found the path again easily enough. Arrived in Valcarlos about 4.30pm but could have done it in much shorter time if I had wanted to. Agree with Wayfarer about avoiding the ravine on the route from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles if it has been raining heavily. It started out fine when I walked it and it was easy going but then the mist came down and it was very cold! Walking by the side of the road is not a problem (of course observing the usual precautions) and vehicles seem to be alert to the prospect of encountering pilgrims. It is a beautiful route and Valcarlos has an excellent albergue and several places where you can eat in the evening. I went to the one which combined supermarket, cafe and restaurant. Buen Camino!
 

WildPlace

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, 2015
Via de la Plata (2021)
It is a beautiful route and Valcarlos has an excellent albergue and several places where you can eat in the evening. I went to the one which combined supermarket, cafe and restaurant. Buen Camino!

Yes, I :) agree with all of that!
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I did it in late March. It was cold, with light intermitent rain.
I made four hours approx from SJPP to Valcarlos. Stayed in the great municipal albergue this night -just an old French monsieur and me. I enjoyed next day a shower and a relaxed breakfast -usually you can't have them in the hassle or the morning albergue rush hour. Then five beautiful and relaxed hours to Roncesvalles. The path forest was muddy, but not particularly difficult. I could perfectly have walked farther, but wanted to be this night in the monastery.
I am in my sixties. A pilgrim more or les my age walked all the way by the paved road, and we arrived at Ibañeta at the same moment. It was kind of funny.
For a comparative, I later did the Napoleon way in 9 1/2 hrs
Buen camino!
 
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Felipe

Veteran Member
Valcarlos has an excellent albergue and several places where you can eat in the evening. I went to the one which combined supermarket, cafe and restaurant. Buen Camino!
That should be the Benta Ardandegia It doubles as the social centre of the village. I met with kind local people there, ready for a bit of little talk with a stranger. I got the key code of the albergue there; also bought food.
A minor note: apparently there is no bakery in the village, so they bring it from other place (Arneguy?) and in the evening all is sold out.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I have climbed the Valcarlos route 11 times over the past years. The latest slog was mid October 2015 at 76. After leaving the Valcarlos albergue at dawn (around 08:00) it took 5 hours to arrive at Roncesvalles, pooped but proud.

In bad weather ie fog, rain or snow I have always walked on the left side verges of the N135 road and not followed any passages into or through the wood. You can read the accounts more fully here.
Whatever the season or weather it is important to remember that beyond Valcarlos there are neither services nor water until Roncesvalles. Be prepared!
 
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Joseph_MT

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2014, '16, '17
Portuguese 2015
Ingles 2015
Primitivo 2018
Salvador 2019
Following this thread with interest. I will be walking from SJPdP to Roncevalles on 31st March. Due to time constraints to do the whole journey I can't afford to stay in Valcarlos.

My concern is that I'll be taking the Corazon Puro option so my understanding is that I should arrive in SJPdP at around 9:00am and hoping to start walking on the same day at around 10:00am. I consider myself quite trained for the Camino, and I'm doing also some good hill training. I won't mind arriving late in Roncevalles either, guessing around 6:00pm.

Any feedback and/or recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks :)
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
As a rule, I don't walk in a mountain pass that I don't know after sunset -and less, if I am alone. But I am not the adventurous type guy.
See the sunset times for Valcarlos here Consider also than in forests, it gets dark sooner. Walking by the paved road, if needed, is also an option -but it has its own problems.
Weather is also a factor.
Having said that, arriving at 6 PM to Roncesvalles (or even to Ibañeta chapel, that is, after the forest, 2 km to Ronc) seems good.
Ask the hospitaleros of Corazon Puro, they could give you good and informed opinion.
Buen camino!
 
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Joseph_MT

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2014, '16, '17
Portuguese 2015
Ingles 2015
Primitivo 2018
Salvador 2019
As a rule, I don't walk alone in a mountain pass that I don't know after sunset -and less, if I am alone. But I am not the adventurous type guy.
See the sunset times for Valcarlos here Consider also than in forests, it gets dark sooner. Walking by the paved road, if needed, is also an option -but it has its own problems.
Weather is also a factor.
Having said that, arriving at 6 PM to Roncesvalles (or even to Ibañeta chapel, that is, after the forest, 2 km to Ronc) seems good.
Ask the hospitaleros of Corazon Puro, they could give you good and informed opinion.
Buen camino!

Thanks for your advice :)
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
My concern is that I'll be taking the Corazon Puro option so my understanding is that I should arrive in SJPdP at around 9:00am and hoping to start walking on the same day at around 10:00am. I consider myself quite trained for the Camino, and I'm doing also some good hill training. I won't mind arriving late in Roncevalles either, guessing around 6:00pm.

Thanks :)
@sillydoll just posted that Corazon Puro will be closed this year due to family health issues back in Hungary. I am afraid you will have to change your plans for the start of your Camino.
 
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HedaP

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
@Joseph_MT, I'm setting out a few days after you. Planning to stay overnight in Pamplona because I want the time to get a Spanish SIM card, then catching the 14:30 hrs Alsa bus to SJPdP arriving 16:15 hrs cost €22. It means staying overnight in SJPdP but it's a beautiful town so all good.
Buen camino
 
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Joseph_MT

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2014, '16, '17
Portuguese 2015
Ingles 2015
Primitivo 2018
Salvador 2019
@Joseph_MT, I'm setting out a few days after you. Planning to stay overnight in Pamplona because I want the time to get a Spanish SIM card, then catching the 14:30 hrs Alsa bus to SJPdP arriving 16:15 hrs cost €22. It means staying overnight in SJPdP but it's a beautiful town so all good.
Buen camino

That's what I'm planning to do as well Heda, so I'm sure an unplanned stay in Pamplona and SJPdP will be lovely. Just had to fix a bit my schedule and trying to do the whole journey in 29 days instead of 30. Wish I could stay more on the Camino, however my days off from work are limited. Wishing you a Buen Camino :)
 

Suzanne Clark

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
I will be walking the Camino Frances again this year. I have previously done the Napoleon route and am planning on taking the Valcarlos route this year. It looks relatively gentle compared to the Napoleon. I am curious as to how long it took you to walk to Valcarlos. I will be arriving in SJPdP (April 12th) late afternoon and was thinking of walking to Valcarlos that afternoon and evening.

Obviously I will take into consideration the weather. It looks like around 11-12 km's.

Thank you to anyone who is willing to share their experience.

Joe
Hi Joe,
I need some advice please. I am planning to start the Camino on the 5th of May with my daughter who is not madly fit. You are choosing to do the Valcarlos route rather than the Napoleon way this time around. Reason? I am unsure which one to do, because I don't want myself or my daughter to loose heart on day 1 ;-) Any advice for me?
Suzanne
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I will be walking the Camino Frances again this year. I have previously done the Napoleon route and am planning on taking the Valcarlos route this year. It looks relatively gentle compared to the Napoleon. I am curious as to how long it took you to walk to Valcarlos. I will be arriving in SJPdP (April 12th) late afternoon and was thinking of walking to Valcarlos that afternoon and evening.

Obviously I will take into consideration the weather. It looks like around 11-12 km's.

Thank you to anyone who is willing to share their experience.

Joe
My wife and I walked this last year at the beginning of May. My GPS track record shows it was 12.1 km from the pilgrim office to the albergue at Valcarlos. Our elapsed time was just over 5 hours, but less than 4 hours of walking.

ps if you are using Naismith's rule or one of it's derivatives, the total climb was about 450 metres.
 
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Suzanne Clark

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
My wife and I walked this last year at the beginning of May. My GPS track record shows it was 12.1 km from the pilgrim office to the albergue at Valcarlos. Our elapsed time was just over 5 hours, but less than 4 hours of walking.

ps if you are using Naismith's rule or one of it's derivatives, the total climb was about 450 metres.
Hi Doug,
What was the weather like in May?
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi Joe,
I need some advice please. I am planning to start the Camino on the 5th of May with my daughter who is not madly fit. You are choosing to do the Valcarlos route rather than the Napoleon way this time around. Reason? I am unsure which one to do, because I don't want myself or my daughter to loose heart on day 1 ;-) Any advice for me?
Suzanne

Suzanne:

Hello, I am choosing the Valcarlos route because I have walked the Napoleon route twice. I walked the Napoleon on March 23rd in 2010-11. It was a long haul 8 hours.

I would recommend, if you want to ensure you do not get disheartened, that you stop at Orisson (steep 8 km's) to break up the first day if you choose the Napoleon. If you choose the Valcarlos stop in Valcarlos (12 km's).

Start slowly and ease your body into walking shape. Listen to your feet. If you feel a rub/friction stop and address it immediately. Your feet will determine how enjoyable your Camino will be.

Weather is unpredictable so I would not worry about it.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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MileHighPair

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012, '14: Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, '17: VdlP
2018: Madrid, Ourense, Salvador, Primitivo
Hi Joe,
I need some advice please. I am planning to start the Camino on the 5th of May with my daughter who is not madly fit. You are choosing to do the Valcarlos route rather than the Napoleon way this time around. Reason? I am unsure which one to do, because I don't want myself or my daughter to loose heart on day 1 ;-) Any advice for me?
Suzanne
I agree with Joe. We too stopped at Valcarlos because I was still recovering from an injury when we started our Camino in 2014. It is a beautiful walk up a green valley on the first day, and a wonderful village to spend the evening. From there to Roncesvalles on the second day is about 4 hours, but quite still challenging due to the elevation gain. If you want to start your walk with distances that will not discourage anyone, this is my recommendation.
 
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Camino Kat

New Member
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Camino Frances (2015)
Yep, just read that. Then I will need to change plans. Thanks for advising.
Beilari, in SJPP is a perfect way to start your Camino. They start taking reservations in mid February. I'll be a week behind you. If the Napoleon route is open, I'll take that one. I've walked both before and easily reached Roncesvalles in afternoon. Buen Camino!
 

Joseph_MT

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2014, '16, '17
Portuguese 2015
Ingles 2015
Primitivo 2018
Salvador 2019
Beilari, in SJPP is a perfect way to start your Camino. They start taking reservations in mid February. I'll be a week behind you. If the Napoleon route is open, I'll take that one. I've walked both before and easily reached Roncesvalles in afternoon. Buen Camino!

Thanks. To say the truth I was a bit concerned at first that I had to change plans, which meant more travelling time and a day less walking the Camino. However now I'm seeing also the positive side of it. I have more time to visit Pamplona, more time in SJPdP, which hopefully would also mean an overnight stay at Beilari. I've read quite some positive feedback on Beilari, which is the perfect start to the Camino. If the Napoleonic route will be open on 1st April I would also opt for it.

Wishing you also a Buen Camino :)
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Thank you to anyone who is willing to share their experienc

Departed or walked through STJPdP on 7 occasions to Spain , two via Napoleon , five via Valcarlos , enjoy Valcarlos .
If there is any rain or fog you just forget the Napoleon.
If you have commenced somewhere on GR65 then its a light lunch in St Jean and a lovely walk to Valcarlos where the village awaits.
The next day we always continue to Burgette , a great place to stay 4km past Roncesvalles.
If it has rained we avoid the forrest floor as its not a walk in the forrest.
If it has not rained then the floor is beautiful.
If you can walk from Valcarlos on a Sunday then its only buses and taxis [ carrying the Pilgrims luggage] on this winding road , they go very slow as this method of crossing the mountain is more popular than many think , especially from pilgrims who commenced in France.
The accommodation in Valcarlos is very good [ Albergues] to beautiful [ See CR's].
And yes it is the original path according to many drawings depicted on walls .
 
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Reidun Fyno

I'm a beliver :-)
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2014)
Camino de Assisi (2015)
Camino Frances from Villafranca del Bierzo (2017)
I will be walking the Camino Frances again this year. I have previously done the Napoleon route and am planning on taking the Valcarlos route this year. It looks relatively gentle compared to the Napoleon. I am curious as to how long it took you to walk to Valcarlos. I will be arriving in SJPdP (April 12th) late afternoon and was thinking of walking to Valcarlos that afternoon and evening.

Obviously I will take into consideration the weather. It looks like around 11-12 km's.

Thank you to anyone who is willing to share their experience.

Joe
There is a lovely Albergue in Valcarlos.
I will defenately walk to Valcarlos again. My way to Valcarlos the first time was very alternative :)
 
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HedaP

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
I have climbed the Valcarlos route 11 times over the past years. The latest slog was mid October 2015 at 76. After leaving the Valcarlos albergue at dawn (around 08:00) it took 5 hours to arrive at Roncesvalles, pooped but proud.

In bad weather ie fog, rain or snow I have always walked on the left side verges of the N135 road and not followed any passages into or through the wood. You can read the accounts more fully here.
Whatever the season or weather it is important to remember that beyond Valcarlos there are neither services nor water until Roncesvalles. Be prepared!
I owe you thanks @mspath. Over the weekend I read a blog http://www.girlsontheway.com/ about a woman and her two young daughters who walked the Valcarlos route just a few weeks before I'm planning to do it. Scared me silly as I don't have any of the experience or the hi tech snow gear that this little family had and obviously needed. But your wonderful blog http://mermore.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/aaa-ron.html makes it clear that I can just keep walking up the road and I don't have to snow bash across fields and down and up valleys. Mind you, I have since ordered a pair of waterproof socks! Hahaha
 
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Isa R

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April 2016
I will be walking the Camino Frances again this year. I have previously done the Napoleon route and am planning on taking the Valcarlos route this year. It looks relatively gentle compared to the Napoleon. I am curious as to how long it took you to walk to Valcarlos. I will be arriving in SJPdP (April 12th) late afternoon and was thinking of walking to Valcarlos that afternoon and evening.

Obviously I will take into consideration the weather. It looks like around 11-12 km's.

Thank you to anyone who is willing to share their experience.

Joe
I'd like to know too. I have done the Napoleons route last year and do the Valcarlos next time. I have heard it's a lot easier. Depends on the weather, as some of the trails get flooded when it's raining heavily.
 
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My wife and I walked this last year at the beginning of May. My GPS track record shows it was 12.1 km from the pilgrim office to the albergue at Valcarlos. Our elapsed time was just over 5 hours, but less than 4 hours of walking.

ps if you are using Naismith's rule or one of it's derivatives, the total climb was about 450 metres.

Hi Doug. Looking at photos of the Valcarlos route, a lot of it seems to be on road. Is it?
Whilst a lot of the Napolean route is also road, steep uphill road walking is less damaging on my Achilles. I think it must be due to a softer foot fall...
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Hi Doug. Looking at photos of the Valcarlos route, a lot of it seems to be on road. Is it?
Whilst a lot of the Napolean route is also road, steep uphill road walking is less damaging on my Achilles. I think it must be due to a softer foot fall...

50% road,
50% path
Country roads until Valcarlos , serene
Path on forest floor after , unless its wet and then mate stay on the winding road until the water fountain then the path into Roncesvalles.
The CR's in Valcarlos have something for sore feet and ankles , beautiful deep baths.
Bring your Radox.
 

vlogan

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Various
I usually spent the first night in St Jean as I arrive around 2.00pm, this time I would like to walk onto Valcarlos. Would I be too late for the albergue if I was to reach Varcarlos around 4.30 pm.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I usually spent the first night in St Jean as I arrive around 2.00pm, this time I would like to walk onto Valcarlos. Would I be too late for the albergue if I was to reach Varcarlos around 4.30 pm.

The Valcarlos albergue which is great has a limited number of beds. Although a municipal facility it does accept bookings.
Here is their email address
turismo@luzaide-valcarlos.net
and telephone
+34948790199

With a reservation made from SJPdP you can relax as you walk!

Whatever the season or weather it is important to remember that beyond Valcarlos there are neither services nor water until Roncesvalles. Be prepared!

Buen camino!
 

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