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Valcarlos Route

pos

New Member

I am starting my Camino on October 3rd from SJPP. I feel that the Route Napoleon would be too difficult for me and I am wondering if any forum members have followed the Valcarlos Route to Roncesvalles. I am planning to spend a night in Valcarlos and continue on to Roncesvalles the next day. Thank You.

Paul
 
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I walked that way in May 2007, also staying in Valcarlos at Casa Marcelino. The room was clean & neat & they served a menu del dia in the evening. I believe you can get a sello in the city offices across the plaza from the hotel (the building with the green cross on it).

If you do go this way, stay on the road. The arrows will point you off the road, we found that way to be almost impassable & overgrown once you're past Valcarlos. At times, very confusing & we had to guess which way to go a few times. Do, however, follow the arrows just outside of SJPdP, as that way is paved & there's very little traffic on it.

Check out my blog (posts from May 2007, as well as my first photo slide show) for more. :)

Buen Camino!
Kelly
 

Trudy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
I also walked the Valcarlos route in May 2007, and totally agree with Kelly about the problem with overgrown paths. In fact, I was quite firmly told by staff at the SJPP Pilgrim Office not to walk that route as I would be walking by myself. All pilgrims were strongly encouraged to follow the Route Napoleon. My reason for walking through Valcarlos was the fact I also felt I wouldn't be able to do the walk in one day, and the town has all facilities. Once I got to Valcarlos, and stopped for coffee and food, I decided to continue and made it, eventually, to Roncesvalles.

The path from SJPP to Arneguy is very good and well-waymarked, from Arneguy to Valcarlos you walk on the road.

However, after Valcarlos, it would be better to stay on the road, especially if you are walking alone. There are Camino signs pointing to off-road tracks, but as Kelly states, these tracks are very overgrown. I tried two of them, walking 2kms on the first only to find a pilgrim coming the other way, quite agitated, because the path was in such a bad state and falling away. So I followed him back to the highway and continued on the road to the next Camino sign. Again, I followed this track for 1/2 hour only to find it petered out. As I was by myself, and had only seen the one pilgrim all day, I realised that there would be no-one to help if I had an accident, so decided to return to the highway and took this all the way to Roncesvalles. With all that to-ing and fro-ing I added an unneccessary 8kms to an already (for me) long walk.

Walking on the road is tiring, so I do recommend breaking the trip at Valcarlos. The steepness increases in the final few kms with lots of hairpin bends up to Ibaneta Pass, but the guardrails are pretty handy to rest against! Just remember to walk against the oncoming traffic, although there's not too much of that.

Trudy
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I have posted these graphics before, but it might give you and idea of the routes and profiles.
 

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pos

New Member
I would like to thank each one of you for your valuable advice on walking the Valcarlos Route. I feel that this route is for me as it is not as steep as Route Napoleon and I will be able to stay overnight in Valcarlos. Again many thanks!

Paul
 
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Julie H

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September/October 2015
I'm thinking of doing the Valcarlos route to Roncesvalles, as opposed to the Napoleon route mid September 2015, purely because it is so difficult to get a reservation in Refuge Orisson. Has any one been this way lately and is it difficult to follow? And is there plenty of beds to be had in Valcarlos...as I'll need on on my first day :) Any info would be much appreciated.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
The route is easy to follow; it is mostly along the lightly traveled road. The diversions off the road can be wet and muddy in rain, and following the road goes the same place, but at a more gradual grade (and slightly longer route). There is plenty of accommodation in Valcarlos, both at the albergue and in private accommodations. Buen camino!
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
Hi! I walked this route in spring 2011 because I hadn't trained and wasn't confident about doing the Napoleon. Staying in Valcarlos breaks the stage nicely, but Day 2 is still a hard climb to Roncesvalles. I took the route that leaves the road a few kms after Valcarlos - I don't remember it being overgrown, just steep in places (I was stopping for breath every 10 metres!). The albergue in Valcarlos was nice and had cooking facilities. There's a shop, restaurant etc as well. Given my circumstances I think it was the best option for me, but I do want to do the Napoleon some time! Buen Camino!
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Julie,

The Valcarlos route is not difficult to follow unless there is snow in winter. There are several accommodation options which are listed on this Gronze site. I always stay at the municipal albergue which is open all year and heated. You can reserve there also. Do be aware that after Valcarlos there are no services and no water until Roncesvalles monastery.

Happy planning and Buen camino!

MM
 
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D

Deleted member 36903

Guest
I am starting my Camino on October 3rd from SJPP. I feel that the Route Napoleon would be too difficult for me and I am wondering if any forum members have followed the Valcarlos Route to Roncesvalles. I am planning to spend a night in Valcarlos and continue on to Roncesvalles the next day. Thank You.

Paul

I walked from SJPP to Valcarlos on March 29 this year (the Napoleon route was closed because of snow). I am 65 and not used to long distance walking but found this an easy walk and well sign-posted. I stayed at the Valcarlos municipal albergue. It is exceptionally well run with cooking facilities and lockers by each bed. Breakfast is included in the cost. Onwards from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles was well sign-posted and a lovely walk. Hope this helps. Buen camino!
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Hi! I walked this route in spring 2011 because I hadn't trained and wasn't confident about doing the Napoleon. Staying in Valcarlos breaks the stage nicely, but Day 2 is still a hard climb to Roncesvalles. I took the route that leaves the road a few kms after Valcarlos - I don't remember it being overgrown, just steep in places (I was stopping for breath every 10 metres!). The albergue in Valcarlos was nice and had cooking facilities. There's a shop, restaurant etc as well. Given my circumstances I think it was the best option for me, but I do want to do the Napoleon some time! Buen Camino!
I too walked this route in April 2012 on advice from the Pilgrim Office as the Napoleon was deemed to dangerous at the time. After Valcarlos, like tyrrek, I left the road where marked, this cuts out long sweeping bends in the main road but it also plunges down to the bottom of beautiful ravines but what goes down must come back up and that was hard, also muddy and wet in places. If I was walking this route again I would stick to the road after Valcarlos, slightly longer but easier going.
 

Julie H

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September/October 2015
Julie,

The Valcarlos route is not difficult to follow unless there is snow in winter. There are several accommodation options which are listed on this Gronze site. I always stay at the municipal albergue which is open all year and heated. You can reserve there also. Do be aware that after Valcarlos there are no services and no water until Roncesvalles monastery.

Happy planning and Buen camino!

MM
Thanks for the heads up about the no services and water until Roncesvalles. Will stock up accordingly. :)
 

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 .
Thanks for the heads up about the no services and water until Roncesvalles. Will stock up accordingly. :)

We recently stayed in a wonderful Casa Rural in Valcarlos.
We enjoyed this way very much.
The next day was a sunday, no traffic on the road so continued on this country road to the water fountain where we headed into the forest.
Its a 4 hour walk from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles this way.
The country paths to Valcarlos from StJPP is a great walk.
Good food in both cafes/bars.
 
Last edited:

Glen Moray

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2012-13; 2013-4;2016-17 SDC-Muxia-Finisterre 2015, 2018 Ferrol-SDC 2018
I walked the Valcarlos route in September 2013. Initially I was a bit worried as the guide book had suggested it was a very busy international road, but the reality was there were only a few cars and they generally crossed to the other side when they saw me.

If I had to walk it again I would stay on the road after Valcarlos as the off road path was very steep in places. Incidentally another advantage of walking on the road is there are markers every kilometre so you can measure your progress quite easily. I think they were counting down the distance to Pamplona.
 
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good_old_shoes

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
I walked via Valcarlos this spring. The albergue is really nice! You can get the key code in the local bar or knock on the door for other pilgrims to let you in. The hospitalera came later to collect the money and stamp the passports. The next day to Roncesvalles, I tried to avoid the road, for me the path was absolutely okay and easy to walk. As long as there's not much snow I think it's the more beautiful option to walk through the forest. It is quite steep in some parts, though, and if you're an unexperienced walker, you'll be glad to have started in Valcarlos and not St. Jean! I know it gets called the "low" route through the valley, but it is still a difference about 700 meters in altitude from Valcarlos to the highest point on the way to Roncesvalles!
 
D

Deleted member 36903

Guest
I walked via Valcarlos this spring. The albergue is really nice! You can get the key code in the local bar or knock on the door for other pilgrims to let you in. The hospitalera came later to collect the money and stamp the passports. The next day to Roncesvalles, I tried to avoid the road, for me the path was absolutely okay and easy to walk. As long as there's not much snow I think it's the more beautiful option to walk through the forest. It is quite steep in some parts, though, and if you're an unexperienced walker, you'll be glad to have started in Valcarlos and not St. Jean! I know it gets called the "low" route through the valley, but it is still a difference about 700 meters in altitude from Valcarlos to the highest point on the way to Roncesvalles!

Completely agree, the Valcarlos albergue is excellent and the path towards rocesvalles strenuous but not too demanding. look out for the vultures flying overhead when you are on the first road section after the village - and keep walking ...
 

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