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Via de la Plata in reverse (Gijón to Cádiz)

JP0819

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020 - Atlantic Coast to Med Coast
Hi all,

Please excuse any conventions that I may have missed - it's my first time posting on here. I am planning to set off in October (after a month spent in Asturias) from Gijón - Cádiz; tying together a few Camino routes in reverse but primarily the Via de la Plata to Seville before taking the Via Augusta to Cádiz.

I have several questions:
a) Has anyone tried a similar route?
b) Are there any particular challenges with attempting a Camino in reverse?
c) What is the 'best' means of navigation?

I am mindful of the ongoing COVID situation and will continue to monitor the local situation, so while this may not end up being feasible this year I would deeply appreciate any advice or pointers this wonderful community may have.

Abrazos,

Jake
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
It's not uncommon to meet people following the VDLP in reverse. When I was heading north in October/ November 2017, I remember meeting
- A Dutch mother and daughter
- A German walker
- A German cyclist (solo)
- A Dutch husband and wife
- A French family (mom, dad, two kids) on recumbent bicycles and trailers
- A German man with his dog in a trailer
There are probably others that I've forgotten. The advantages of walking in that direction in October are that you're heading toward a warmer climate (although it will still be cold on the way), and you will meet people who are moving in the opposite direction (albeit only fleetingly).
The main challenge, I guess is that some arrows may not be visible when walking in reverse and any guide that you read will describe stages in the opposite direction - but I'm sure that's easy to get used to.
Navigation should be greatly simplified if you have a mobile phone with tracks downloaded from Wikiloc or another reliable source. There are also apps and guides that you can download to your device too - like this one by Gerard Kelly:
Gerard is maintaining a list of lodgings that are operating, which you should keep an eye on:
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF July 2018
VDLP April 2019
I cannot offer any great advice per se, other than to say that this seems like a very cool plan and I hope it works out for you - be sure to post your progress as when you undertake this journey. BC.
 

JP0819

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020 - Atlantic Coast to Med Coast
Thank you both for your advice and thoughts. Wikiloc is a useful resource and I appreciate the links to Gerard's work!

I've spent time fleshing out the route in more detail as follows:

Ribadesella - Villaviciosa (Camino del Norte)
Villaviciosa - Oviedo (Camino Primitivo)
Oviedo - León (Camino San Salvador [in reverse])
León - Astorga (Camino Francés)
Astorga - Sevilla (Vía de la Plata [in reverse])
Sevilla - Cádiz (Vía Augusta [in reverse])

All going well, I'll aim to hit Cádiz in the middle of November!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
León - Astorga (Camino Francés)
Doing this takes you around two sides of a triangle (Leon-Astorga-Granja rather than Leon-Granja). I guess it will require you to spend two days on the CF and then four days on a very untravelled section of the VDLP (the section that lies to the north of Granja de la Moreruela).

In terms of lodgings, I don't know what facilities will be available on the very untravelled section of the VDLP. As far as I know, the route goes through some very quiet towns / villages where the only lodgings may be an unmanned municipal albergue. This kind of facility will probably be closed because it can't easily comply with hygiene rules. You'd be well advised to check what will be operating and you might find that you simply have to devise your own path to bridge the gap between León and Granja.

My suggestion would be to follow the Rio Bernesga from Leon (and then the Rio Esla) to reach Granja in three or four stages. Depending on your daily walking distance you might need two or three days to cover the 70km or so to Benavente, followed by one official VDLP stage to Granja.

I guess it depends what appeals to you out of:
- Spending a couple of days on the CF vs. Avoiding the most popular routes
- Having official Camino routes to follow vs. Devising your own path
- "Doing" the entire VDLP from start to finish vs. Taking the most direct route
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Keep an eye also on the website of the albergue Torre de Sabre. The owner, Filiberto, is regularly posting a list of lodgings and statuses for private lodgings on the VDLP. Look for posts titled: "LISTADO ALOJAMIENTOS PRIVADOS ASOCIACIÓN CAMINOS VÍA DE LA PLATA"

 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I have never walked in reverse either. Just to add what Raggy said you could also download the Wisely (Wise Pilgrim) app for the VDLP. I believe it is free. It has a GPS in the app which will help I am sure.
 

JP0819

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020 - Atlantic Coast to Med Coast
Thank you all for your help! All of the resources you're positing seem extremely helpful and are quelling any small doubts about striking out solo.

@Raggy, that's a really good point. Having done a bit of research on Wikiloc I feel a bit more confident about piecing together the route between León and Benavente! I don't need to go on the Camino Francés for the sake of it. Thank you very much.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues '15, '16, & '19
Via Francigena '17
Frances '18
Muxia & Finisterre '18
Tahoe Rim Trail '19
I am actually planning to this trip but from Cadiz to Gijon. I will do this when the world is actually covid safe so unfortunately it be will awhile.

I am intrigued to walk the entire length of Spain. After Gijon I would take the North route towards Muxia via SdC.
 

JP0819

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020 - Atlantic Coast to Med Coast
@Crosscheck Rider it's a fair point! I'm in two minds about it but luckily have a month in Asturias first to assess the situation. Can't say I'd be too fussed about being locked down in Spain if it came to that, though...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues '15, '16, & '19
Via Francigena '17
Frances '18
Muxia & Finisterre '18
Tahoe Rim Trail '19
@Crosscheck Rider it's a fair point! I'm in two minds about it but luckily have a month in Asturias first to assess the situation. Can't say I'd be too fussed about being locked down in Spain if it came to that, though...
I spent a few days in Astorias last spring. It is a wonderful place with a rich history and culture. I am envious you get to stay there for a month.
 

hecate105

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
We followed Caminos 'backwards' from Santiago - Norte, Voie litoral, and several up thru France to get back to the UK. We were on bikes - it was strange meeting people only once - even as cyclists we seemed to travel 'with' walkers on the route there - but returning was a little strange to begin with. Signage was the worst bit - you are always turning around to scan.... But if you get a good guide ( the cycle guide we used for the Via de Plata was set out as easily readable maps - it was Spanish so we could not read the words anyhow!) it should be much simpler. Also some mapping sites - ViaMichelin for instance - show all the Camino routes on their 'simple outdoor' map page. It is easy to zoom in for detail. Also you can screenshot the pages when you have wifi - so you have the info on the walk....!
Have a great Camino - whatever happens you can console yourself with the excellent seafood in Cadiz!!
 

LenaOnTheRoad

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2013, Camino Portugues 2013, Via de la Plata 2016
I did the Camino Portuguese in November 2013 and it was a disaster. Wouldn't do it again. I got lost a million of times and in November I hardly met other pilgrims to ask for the way. And the people in the villages had no idea I'm talking about when I asked them.
But I wasn't prepared, had no maps at all, as I thought I would see the arrows, but many time they were so hidden, that I didn't see them. I guess, if you prepare yoursef better, it would work out well.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I'd say use a GPS / map /hiker trail app called Mapy.cz -- there are website and Windows desktop / laptop /tablet & Android & iPhone etc versions of it, and if you take the precaution of downloading the offline maps it's, well, not flawless (some hiker trails are inevitably missing) but it is very good, especially for such major routes as the Via de la Plata.

And if the official route might seem dodgy in some places, it often shows alternate dirt or tarmac trails as the case may be.

FWIW I'm going to walk a good stretch of the Via de la Plata in "reverse" myself next year, after reaching Astorga ; down to at least Cáceres, but maybe Mérida. Either way from there towards Fátima -- though it'll be a fake "reverse" as I'll be walking to Compostela that way regardless. :cool:
 

JP0819

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020 - Atlantic Coast to Med Coast
I'd say use a GPS / map /hiker trail app called Mapy.cz -- there are website and Windows desktop / laptop /tablet & Android & iPhone etc versions of it, and if you take the precaution of downloading the offline maps it's, well, not flawless (some hiker trails are inevitably missing) but it is very good, especially for such major routes as the Via de la Plata.

And if the official route might seem dodgy in some places, it often shows alternate dirt or tarmac trails as the case may be.

FWIW I'm going to walk a good stretch of the Via de la Plata in "reverse" myself next year, after reaching Astorga ; down to at least Cáceres, but maybe Mérida. Either way from there towards Fátima -- though it'll be a fake "reverse" as I'll be walking to Compostela that way regardless. :cool:

Thanks so much for the advice! I’ve unfortunately had to call off the Via de la Plata part of the journey as I’ve been told only 20% of albergues are open.

currently in León, having started my Camino on the Norte near Llanes and followed the San Salvador in reverse from Oviedo. I used Wise Pilgrim for the latter with my phone GPS and navigation was totally fine. Given the issues with accommodation on the VdlP I’m going to follow the Frances through to Santiago- not bad for a backup plan and very grateful to be here in the current circumstances.
 

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