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Via de la Plata - Pilgrim numbers in decline / flatlining

2020 Camino Guides

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
According to the article in the Extremadura newspaper, Hoy, pilgrim numbers are down on the Via de la Plata. The pilgrims office in Santiago reported 11 fewer pilgrims who walked the Via de la Plata in 2018, compared with 2017.

Since the data isn't perfect, for reasons that are discussed in many other threads, it's debatable whether pilgrim numbers are in decline. But I think it's safe to say that, in contrast to most other pilgrim routes, the numbers on the Via de la Plata are not increasing.

The article speculates that the Via de la Plata needs more infrastructure (i.e. albergues) to attract more pilgrims.


People are reporting that the Via de la Plata is crowded this year - so perhaps there's no "trend" just normal ups and downs for a less travelled path.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
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CF Sarria to SdC
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Faced with these positive data is that of the Vía de la Plata, which in 2018 toured 9,127 pilgrims, eleven fewer than in the previous year.

I think my Statistics Teacher at University would call that Statistically Insignificant!

But the key is perhaps no increases as seen on the other Routes.

From a personal perspective that's good news, as I would prefer to walk a route that is somewhat unspoiled and less busy that the others.

But from the locals perspective I guess they would like to see the numbers grow.

Hopefully it will many years yet before it becomes like the Frances 'Conga Line'.
Though I still love the Frances and will walk it again sometime .... :)
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
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I think my Statistics Teacher at University would call that Statistically Insignificant!
But the key is perhaps no increases as seen on the other Routes.
Precisely. My statistics teacher would view the Via de la Plata data as statistically insignificant in isolation. But my financial advisor would view the Via de la Plata as underperforming, compared with market averages.

My concern is a vicious cycle - lack of growth gives little incentive for investment, which limits growth.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
you got my hopes up!!
my first camino in 2006 was the VDLP and I loved the solitude..none of that mindless race on the overrated overcrowded CF.....please stay away!
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
The numbers on the Via de la Plata seem to have stabilised for quite some years now. And yes, that is different to (almost) all the other Caminos. It surprised me, because I loved it. But I think I am starting to get it. I don't believe it has much to do with pilgrim infrastructure. That same problem counts for the Norte and there the numbers are rapidly growing.

I think it is because of the short and divided seasons. The VdlP is quite undoable in summer, which means it splits into a spring season and an autumn season. What happened to the Francés and is now happening to the Norte as well, is that the season is expanding. So the Norte used to be only crowdy in the summer months, but now more and more pilgrims start walking in spring already or keep on walking in autumn. While the VdlP will always have an empty summer in the middle.

Weather can be pretty rough anyhow, because you are walking 800k northwards in a couple of weeks through different climates. So you might start in soaking hot Sevilla the end of September and arrive in chilly and rainy Galica the beginning of November.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
The numbers on the Via de la Plata seem to have stabilised for quite some years now. And yes, that is different to (almost) all the other Caminos. It surprised me, because I loved it. But I think I am starting to get it. I don't believe it has much to do with pilgrim infrastructure. That same problem counts for the Norte and there the numbers are rapidly growing.

I think it is because of the short and divided seasons. The VdlP is quite undoable in summer, which means it splits into a spring season and an autumn season. What happened to the Francés and is now happening to the Norte as well, is that the season is expanding. So the Norte used to be only crowdy in the summer months, but now more and more pilgrims start walking in spring already or keep on walking in autumn. While the VdlP will always have an empty summer in the middle.

Weather can be pretty rough anyhow, because you are walking 800k northwards in a couple of weeks through different climates. So you might start in soaking hot Sevilla the end of September and arrive in chilly and rainy Galica the beginning of November.
It's not "undoable" at all, depends what you are used to. Northerners seem to freak out if the temperature gets above 25. I always walk in European summer for 2 reasons..to avoid winter in Oz and the crowds.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
It's not "undoable" at all, depends what you are used to. Northerners seem to freak out if the temperature gets above 25. I always walk in European summer for 2 reasons..to avoid winter in Oz and the crowds.
Well I think a lot of people disagree with you. I walked part of the Via de la Plata in August 2014 and I met exactly zero other walking pilgrims. Only a few on bikes. They all thought I was crazy.

Besides that, Andalucía often hits temperatures over 40 degrees celsius in summer.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Well I think a lot of people disagree with you. I walked part of the Via de la Plata in August 2014 and I met exactly zero other walking pilgrims. Only a few on bikes. They all thought I was crazy.

Besides that, Andalucía often hits temperatures over 40 degrees celsius in summer.
I walked in august a few years ago and met quite a few..in fact further nirth the albergues were full. The max temperature is usually late afternoon..who's walking then?
Having said that keep the vdlp quiet!...we don't want the hordes invading!
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
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Well I think a lot of people disagree with you. I walked part of the Via de la Plata in August 2014 and I met exactly zero other walking pilgrims. Only a few on bikes. They all thought I was crazy.

Besides that, Andalucía often hits temperatures over 40 degrees celsius in summer.
Is that all? We had 44 C at Christmas time in Sydney :cool:
The frozen water bottles were melting in minutes :eek:

I have to say walking much above 30-35 C I find starts to get a bit much :oops:
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
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The via de la Plata is popular with pilgrims seeking a long-distance walk without all the "Disneyfication" of the Camino Frances. The CF is the most popular and developed of all the routes. It has the most amenities to support increased numbers of pilgrims. Historically, it is among the oldest routes.

IIRC the Camino de la Plata from Sevilla is about 1,050 km. That is 200 km longer than the full Camino Frances (799 km). Moreover, if you start from the south coast on the Atlantic Ocean on the feeder routes, from Cadiz on the Via Augusta, or from Algeciras on the Via Serrana, you can add several hundred more km to your Camino.

As the 2021 Holy Year approaches, the Camino Frances is becoming a victim of its own success. I opine that we will see 'peak pilgrim' in 2021. Peak pilgrim is a mathematical scenario where every bed in every place of accommodation is full. It is a very complicated issue. But essentially, it means that the Camino Frances will likely reach saturation levels in the summer months of 2021.

Because of its relative commercial development and availability of amenities, the Camino Frances attracts university class groups, organized tour companies, tourists per se, baggage transport, and the curious seeking but "a taste of the Camino..." IMHO, the Camino Portugues from Porto, and especially from Tui, is catching up, and FAST.

The first Camino route documented is the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo (King Alfonso II of Asturias). But, the Frances has come to be the 'spine' or central route for all approaches form the north and east. Most all routes coming from the north or east eventually join the Frances. Some as far east as Puente la Reina, and others as late as Lavacolla. Don't believe me, look at a map all Camino routes in Spain / southern France. The pattern of routes looks like a spine with ribs or branches.

Moreover, the heightened volumes on the Camino Frances, or any route for that matter, attracts businesses trying to be successful. Examples include both mochila transport and tour companies. Face it, if you are trying to run a business, you are going to situation yourself where there is more traffic.

My view is that the de la Plata, Norte, Invierno, Ingles, and several other less known routes are safe from oversubscription and crowds until and unless they become as 'developed' as the Frances or Portuguese. If you build it (amenities) they will come (pilgrims).

If one looks at the annual statistics made available by the Pilgrim Office, it can be seen that after the Caminos Frances, Portuguese, and Primitivo, the volumes, per route, drop off precipitously. These other routes are less popular, overall, because they lack the relative "convenience" of the Frances or Portuguese...etc.

Absent a developed infrastructure, only determined pilgrims, aware of the vicissitudes of long, desolate walking routes will be attracted. Blessed be determined pilgrims...

Hope this helps the dialog.
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
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@t2andreo thanks for these thoughts.

Though rather than Peak Pilgrim being reached in 2021 for the CF, given the business opportunity, don't you think we'll merely see more beds becoming available? Each time I walk the CF I seem to see new places appear...
 

brian560

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, VdlP 2016, Port. Central, Norte , Port. Coastal (2018).San Salvador and Primitivo (2019)
It's not "undoable" at all, depends what you are used to. Northerners seem to freak out if the temperature gets above 25. I always walk in European summer for 2 reasons..to avoid winter in Oz and the crowds.
I started in early September and I'm from Australia. By 2pm you need be at your destination or under a large tree. It is seriously hot.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
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I started in early September and I'm from Australia. By 2 pm you need be at your destination or under a large tree. It is seriously hot.
Bummer. I have to walk slowly so my walking days are quite long. Generally arrive about 4-5 pm.

I can picture being found the next day like some kind of 'desiccated' road kill, face down on the path....... :(
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances ('10), Portugues ('11), Promitivo ('13), VdlP ('14), Ingles ('16), Torres ('17), Litoral '19
The VdlP is the most wonderful Camino, if time is not an issue.

We spent 54 days walking from Almaden de la Plata to Santiago in 2014. We started In late August when it was very warm and we decided to avoid the long lonely stage prior to Almaden because of the heat. Three of the days were spent sightseeing in Merida, Salamanca and Ourense. There were many other fascinating towns and villages along the way, most notably Caceres, but we tried to get to such places early in the day to take in the sights.

Accommodation was never a problem, although I remember two places where later arrivals had to sleep on the kitchen floor or look elsewhere. In two towns the albergues were closed "for painting" ie. bed bugs, but we managed to find relatively low cost accommodation nearby. In another I think we got the last room in a town where bed bugs was the admitted cause of the closed albergue. We learned later that six people took a taxi to the next town and two people slept on the floor of the town hall. On at least four occasions we were either alone in the albergue or were joined by just one other person. Occasionally there was no albergue but we found comfortable hostals that didn't break the bank. Of course a private room with a comfortable bed, clean sheets and real towels was always a welcome option.

I am not sure that we ever went a full day without seeing another peregrino.

I would love to do it again but I was already 70 in 2014 and I am not sure I would be up to it now.

Liam
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
I’m walking the VDLP now from Sevilla to Salamanca and it is already getting warm. Normally 85F doesn’t bother me that much but it is unrelenting (little shade and no towns on most stages to stop at for water or other items). I have run into few pilgrims. Looks like maybe 20 of us in total. I find that both good and bad. I enjoy solitude but I also enjoy a good chat to help the boredom.

Echoing other thoughts, there is definitely room for some infrastructure increases.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
The reported "crowding" in some recent posts is very likely just a bubble of pilgrims at Easter time. When the only albergue in town accommodates 10 people, the 11th person makes it an "overcrowded" albergue. That doesn't constitute an overcrowded route!

Last year I learned how significant the holiday weekends are in Spain. If people arrive in a busy town at 4 pm during a fiesta, they will find it very difficult to get a room, especially a low-price one. Nobody owes us those rooms simply because we prefer to travel in an unstructured way.
 

Pilger99

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
addicted since 1999 (Aragones, CF), lots of caminos in Spain and Portugal since then
20 pilgrim at the same time wasn't that bad for VdLP, while I did it. I don't expect more than 50% of the ~9000 had been starting between Seville and Salamanca, while a good amount is just doing the last 100km from Ourense (Too lazy to do the math right now).

Leaving the place were I sleept between 6am and noon is fine for me, arriving between 2pm and 9pm works like a charm, a much later arrival has some limits, but why not? In the darker months I prefer to leave and get in with a bit of natural light.

Refering to the temperatures I use to like the thirty something °C. Others start to complain about heat at 20°C with a little glimpse of sun through the clouds, while I do look for gloves and scarf ;). A bit of that is training. After a few hot (>30°C) weeks in summer the colder 20°C days after that are totally different than the same 20°C after a long winter.

Australia (Oz) is such a small island on the globe (with only a dozen climate zones). You will hardly notice the 5 hours flight from one edge to the other. So you can't expect any difference between north and south, nor east and west. Take the forecast for Alice Springs and you will exactly know what happens in Melbourne and Darwin :p.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
The reported "crowding" in some recent posts is very likely just a bubble of pilgrims at Easter time.
Perhaps. Hotel space is certainly at a premium at Easter.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
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@t2andreo thanks for these thoughts.

Though rather than Peak Pilgrim being reached in 2021 for the CF, given the business opportunity, don't you think we'll merely see more beds becoming available? Each time I walk the CF I seem to see new places appear...
The question is whether enough new beds will come on line in enough time. My experience suggests that many locals would prefer to turn folks away when 'completo' rather than deal with added competition off-peak. This can translate into resistance when someone, especially an outsider, tries to develop a new property. We hear of those stories from time to time,

I am cautiously hopeful. We will see. but to ensure that I am not caught in whatever happens, my plan is to volunteer for two, one-month stints, if they will have me, in lieu of walking a Camino in 2021. The Pilgrim Office will certainly need the added help.
 
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Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
@t2andreo I agree with you about the load of (commercial) facilities on the Francés and that other Caminos are not for everyone, but it doesn't explain why the numbers on the Norte have been rising and the numbers on the VdlP have not.

And that is where I think the short season on the VdlP comes in. Makes it also more complicated to open an albergue and live off that.
 

Oppis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF -15, VdlP -15, Sanabres-16. CP -17, Primitivo-17, Mozarabe-18, Norte-18, Sureste-19
Staying today Zamora albergue. Was Completo 16.30 . There are 32 beds, and more peregrinos seeking bed at hostals later on the street. Busy on VdlP.
We walked 4,5 weeks on camino Sureste/Levante and only saw 4 pilgrims together. What a surprise to meet this croud here.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Hopefully Via de Bayona/Burgos to Ponferrada/Camino de Invierno
Bummer. I have to walk slowly so my walking days are quite long. Generally arrive about 4-5 pm.

I can picture being found the next day like some kind of 'desiccated' road kill, face down on the path....... :(
Just don’t walk it in the Summer 😉
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
According to the article in the Extremadura newspaper, Hoy, pilgrim numbers are down on the Via de la Plata. The pilgrims office in Santiago reported 11 fewer pilgrims who walked the Via de la Plata in 2018, compared with 2017.

Since the data isn't perfect, for reasons that are discussed in many other threads, it's debatable whether pilgrim numbers are in decline. But I think it's safe to say that, in contrast to most other pilgrim routes, the numbers on the Via de la Plata are not increasing.

The article speculates that the Via de la Plata needs more infrastructure (i.e. albergues) to attract more pilgrims.


People are reporting that the Via de la Plata is crowded this year - so perhaps there's no "trend" just normal ups and downs for a less travelled path.
Perhaps everyone should help stats by going for the Compostela whether they want it or not. I and many others have not so not counted
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
2

Australia (Oz) is such a small island on the globe (with only a dozen climate zones). You will hardly notice the 5 hours flight from one edge to the other. So you can't expect any difference between north and south, nor east and west. Take the forecast for Alice Springs and you will exactly know what happens in Melbourne and Darwin :p.
Are you Australian?
The difference can be 15 c North to South........ ;)
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
@t2andreo I agree with you about the load of (commercial) facilities on the Francés and that other Caminos are not for everyone, but it doesn't explain why the numbers on the Norte have been rising and the numbers on the VdlP have not.

And that is where I think the short season on the VdlP comes in. Makes it also more complicated to open an albergue and live off that.
Totally agree with @Luka's assessment regarding the limited season.

I've walked from Sevilla 3x. First time was July 2011 (to Zamora, July 2013 Zamora-Muxía), second February 2014 (to Salamanca, October 2014 Salamanca-Santiago) and last June 2016 Sevilla-Merida.

During the summer and winter I encountered only a handful of people, many times there were only 2 of us in the albergues. Late October showed little difference. Hospitaleros reported to me that their high season is April/May and maybe September. That's where you find the bubble.

Several years ago I tracked the growth of the Plata, Primitivo and Norte from 2008 to about 2014 (sorry deleted the files) and what I remember is that in those years there were about 8500 pilgrims arriving in Santiago who had walked the Plata. Now only about 9000.

I'm good with the heat, can walk long distances and carried 3 liters of water in the summer. Most can't.

New albergues are not likely, one needs to at least cover one's costs, something difficult considering the short season. Electricity and heating is very expensive in Spain, much more so than for us in The Netherlands for example, so staying open in the winter is costly and installing airco unthinkable. That said, it was no problem finding accommodations in the winter with at least an electric radiator.

All in all it's actually no surprise that we haven't seen greater growth along the Plata.
 

AllanHG

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France 2015
Camino Portuguese 2017
Are you Australian?
The difference can be 15 c North to South........ ;)
[/QUOTE
Yikes! Then the afternoon queues will extend from 2+ hours to much longer...
We are considering this Camino for one of our next ones. Can someone suggest where I could do more reading on the Via de la plata? In particular, I'm wondering about terrain (knee problems) and distance between towns/accomodation.
Thanks in advance,
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
All in all it's actually no surprise that we haven't seen greater growth along the Plata.
I agree. The biggest growth has been mainly in those walking a relatively short distance on those Caminos like the Frances and the Portugues which have a very well-developed infrastructure. Which means that walkers can choose to walk very short stages, have luggage transported, and make frequent stops for food and water along the way. As it stands at the moment the VdlP is far more challenging and is unlikely to attract those who are drawn to the more popular routes precisely because they are straightforward and undemanding.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
We are considering this Camino for one of our next ones. Can someone suggest where I could do more reading on the Via de la plata? In particular, I'm wondering about terrain (knee problems) and distance between towns/accomodation.
Thanks in advance,
For zero cost, I suggest that you start by reviewing threads on this forum, Wise Pilgrim's free online guide, and a couple of blogs. There are, of course, books that you can buy, but you might want to decide if this is the camino for you before you part with any money. (FWIW, I did not buy a book or app and I found the information from free resources to be more than adequate):

Wise Pilgrim - Via de la Plata Online Guide

Via de la Plata forum (Check out peregrine 2000's thread "My stages on the VLDP)

Sara's Video blog

There are some challenging stages in terms of terrain and distance. But folks here will help you to find ways to deal with those challenges.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
I agree. The biggest growth has been mainly in those walking a relatively short distance on those Caminos like the Frances and the Portugues which have a very well-developed infrastructure. Which means that walkers can choose to walk very short stages, have luggage transported, and make frequent stops for food and water along the way. As it stands at the moment the VdlP is far more challenging and is unlikely to attract those who are drawn to the more popular routes precisely because they are straightforward and undemanding.
But again, that would still not explain the rise of the numbers on the Norte, which is a long Camino as well. And a lot of pilgrims would describe the Norte as a Camino with longer distances, more climbs and descents, less facilities and less of a Camino feel compared to the Francés. And a lot more mud and rain. But these are the numbers:

2012 - Norte: 12.919, VdlP: 8.163
2018 - Norte: 19.040, VdlP: 9.127

So in 6 years time the Norte grew with 47% and the VdlP with 12%. The biggest difference betwee the two Caminos that I can think of is the much shorter and divided seasons on the VdlP.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Again, soon as possible!
But again, that would still not explain the rise of the numbers on the Norte, which is a long Camino as well. And a lot of pilgrims would describe the Norte as a Camino with longer distances, more climbs and descents, less facilities and less of a Camino feel compared to the Francés. And a lot more mud and rain. But these are the numbers:

2012 - Norte: 12.919, VdlP: 8.163
2018 - Norte: 19.040, VdlP: 9.127

So in 6 years time the Norte grew with 47% and the VdlP with 12%. The biggest difference betwee the two Caminos that I can think of is the much shorter and divided seasons on the VdlP.
Because it is on the coast. New pilgrims tend to favor the Frances (rightly so), if not the Frances then Portugues or the Norte. As a second camino, a lot go for the Portugues or the Norte. I think both these routes are expanding massively in only a few years. The Norte because it already has infrastructure (tourist) that can help any shortcomings with pilgrim accommodations. Also, I really do think many prefer a coastal walk than the ruggedness of the VDLP (or other inland route). I prefer the likes of the VDLP myself though.

There is also a perception, rightly or wrongly, that the VDLP is 'tough' or 'lonely' but the Norte is not.

Davey
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
But again, that would still not explain the rise of the numbers on the Norte, which is a long Camino as well.
As Davey said, it's coastal. That means beautiful scenery and more temperate temperatures. Even in the summer there is often a nice cool coastal breeze.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
I want to walk VdlP as soon as possible: But.

On CF, I can walk as little or as long as I wish and find: bed, food, mass, etc.

With the Via, those long stages are a consideration. A daily 28 to 30k average was once no problem, but now: Um. I don’t relish the idea of walking X number of miles, hailing cabs to albergue, then next day cabbing back, and start walking.

Also, the spring or fall option means a possible bed race. I love summer. I love heat. I loved my black hair becoming sun-bleached blonde on CF camino number one walked in August. But 35+ Celsius is awfully caliente.

And, as a lone woman on CF, I was never out of sight of another pilgrim, or occupied town/village/city, or vehicular traffic for more than fifteen, twenty minutes tops. However, VdlP seems quite barren on all points.

These are my reasons for rethinking VdlP as next camino.
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
I think basing pilgrim counts on the different Caminos on the numbers going to the office in Santiago can be quite problematic.

A lot of the people who have walked a few times can't be bothered actually going there - skipping Santiago altogether or skipping just the Pilgrim office - because to us, the Camino is the important thing, not the arrival or the Compostela.

I have walked a few thousand kilometres in Spain/Portugal, but only walked into Santiago twice, and I bet I'm not alone in skipping Santiago most walks...
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
@HeidiL I agree, to base crowdyness on the numbers in the Pilgrims Office is not ideal. But we don't have any other numbers to compare. I assume there are (more or less) as many pilgrims on the VdlP as on the Norte that don't bother about a compostela or arriving in Santiagio.

The Norte numbers are even more complicated. If you start on the Norte and continue on the Primitivo to Santiago on what Camino are you registered?
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
The Norte numbers are even more complicated. If you start on the Norte and continue on the Primitivo to Santiago on what Camino are you registered?
On this matter, at least, I expect that the Pilgrims Office has a policy and applies it fairly consistently.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
Because it is on the coast. New pilgrims tend to favor the Frances (rightly so), if not the Frances then Portugues or the Norte. As a second camino, a lot go for the Portugues or the Norte. I think both these routes are expanding massively in only a few years. The Norte because it already has infrastructure (tourist) that can help any shortcomings with pilgrim accommodations. Also, I really do think many prefer a coastal walk than the ruggedness of the VDLP (or other inland route). I prefer the likes of the VDLP myself though.

There is also a perception, rightly or wrongly, that the VDLP is 'tough' or 'lonely' but the Norte is not.

Davey
In my case, the First week of the Norte is harder than any I have done. We are now on our way to walk the Salvador/Primitivo
Must be crazy 😝
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Staying today Zamora albergue. Was Completo 16.30 . There are 32 beds
Another factor in the apparent bubble at places like Zamora... I remember the volunteer hospitaleros saying that some people who are not really intending to walk the camino come with new credentials and say they are starting there - a very common starting point. It is low budget accommodation. They are never seen walking or at the following village albergues.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
If you start on the Norte and continue on the Primitivo to Santiago on what Camino are you registered?
In that case I'm almost sure it would be Norte. At least it was Levante for me in 2015 when I went to collect pro vicario Compostela. It wasn't VdlP or Sanabres.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
In my case, the First week of the Norte is harder than any I have done. We are now on our way to walk the Salvador/Primitivo
Must be crazy 😝
I would second this comment. First third of the Norte is definitely the most challenging of the Camino's I have walked.

Joe
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
My general comment here having just walked from Sevilla to Salamanca is that many people I did meet on the VdlP were not walking the entire route.

Joe
I want to walk VdlP as soon as possible: But.

On CF, I can walk as little or as long as I wish and find: bed, food, mass, etc.

With the Via, those long stages are a consideration. A daily 28 to 30k average was once no problem, but now: Um. I don’t relish the idea of walking X number of miles, hailing cabs to albergue, then next day cabbing back, and start walking.

Also, the spring or fall option means a possible bed race. I love summer. I love heat. I loved my black hair becoming sun-bleached blonde on CF camino number one walked in August. But 35+ Celsius is awfully caliente.

And, as a lone woman on CF, I was never out of sight of another pilgrim, or occupied town/village/city, or vehicular traffic for more than fifteen, twenty minutes tops. However, VdlP seems quite barren on all points.

These are my reasons for rethinking VdlP as next camino.
The VdlP might not be for you. The daily walking options are either short or long, imo.

The accommodation available is more private than Municipal or association. Therefore, once they collect the fee, you do not see them again. There are exceptions but not many between Sevilla and Salamanca, imo.

There is a lot of Roman Architecture along the way, if you are into that.

There are several stretches of highway walking and pasture walking. If you do not like either, this route might not be for you.

If you are looking for hills, between Sevilla and Salamanca, there are very few climbs on this route. There are a couple short steep climbs but very few.

Speaking Spanish on this route is also very helpful.

I found the Mozarabe a much more enjoyable Camino. Much more welcoming and better supported from local associations, especially from Almeria to Granada.

Keep walking,
Joe
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
My general comment here having just walked from Sevilla to Salamanca is that many people I did meet on the VdlP were not walking the entire route.

Joe


The VdlP might not be for you. The daily walking options are either short or long, imo.

The accommodation available is more private than Municipal or association. Therefore, once they collect the fee, you do not see them again. There are exceptions but not many between Sevilla and Salamanca, imo.

There is a lot of Roman Architecture along the way, if you are into that.

There are several stretches of highway walking and pasture walking. If you do not like either, this route might not be for you.

If you are looking for hills, between Sevilla and Salamanca, there are very few climbs on this route. There are a couple short steep climbs but very few.

Speaking Spanish on this route is also very helpful.

I found the Mozarabe a much more enjoyable Camino. Much more welcoming and better supported from local associations, especially from Almeria to Granada.

Keep walking,
Joe
Oddly enough your reply has confirmed my need to do VdlP.

I’ve let CF comfort provide five reasons, five caminos, to only do CF.

Once time, money, and opportunity allow; VdlP here I come.

Face the fear!
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
My general comment here having just walked from Sevilla to Salamanca is that many people I did meet on the VdlP were not walking the entire route.

Joe


The VdlP might not be for you. The daily walking options are either short or long, imo.

The accommodation available is more private than Municipal or association. Therefore, once they collect the fee, you do not see them again. There are exceptions but not many between Sevilla and Salamanca, imo.

There is a lot of Roman Architecture along the way, if you are into that.

There are several stretches of highway walking and pasture walking. If you do not like either, this route might not be for you.

If you are looking for hills, between Sevilla and Salamanca, there are very few climbs on this route. There are a couple short steep climbs but very few.

Speaking Spanish on this route is also very helpful.

I found the Mozarabe a much more enjoyable Camino. Much more welcoming and better supported from local associations, especially from Almeria to Granada.

Keep walking,
Joe
Rather reluctantly (tongue in cheek) i second the mozarabe.....ANYONE going to spain is told not to miss the Alhambra,probably THE top attraction. Also on the mozarabe is Cordoba with the amazing Mezquita.
And it's too not crowded..to me more than 5 people is a crowd
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Oddly enough your reply has confirmed my need to do VdlP.

I’ve let CF comfort provide five reasons, five caminos, to only do CF.

Once time, money, and opportunity allow; VdlP here I come.

Face the fear!
:) - Okay then! I'm delighted that you're pushing yourself to face down a new challenge.

That said, I will echo @jpflavin1's point about the Mozarabe from Almeria. It is nowhere near as developed or as popular as the CF. You'll face new challenges, but as you go through them you will know that the Almeria association has your back and there is now a good network of donativo and private albergues that allows you to walk shorter (<20km) or longer (>30km) stages - at least as far as Granada. (From Granada onwards, the Almeria association isn't in charge and you need to be a little more independent - but by then, you're trained up to deal with it).
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Just leaving Sevilla did one little strech as an apitiser. Saw plenty of pilgrims but no masses. Its allready 35 Celsius. So I will start next time earlier in the year.
There was a mess in the cathedral but no special pilgrims mess. I got my stamp but for the pass we were sent somewhete else.
Hostals were more expensive and 1 May everything closed.
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
Now done with Ourense-Santiago. We saw ~20 other pilgrims total within 6 days, 3/4ths of whom today.
 

Hamish John Appleby

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances '2017' Camino Portugues '2017' Camino Norte '2018'
According to the article in the Extremadura newspaper, Hoy, pilgrim numbers are down on the Via de la Plata. The pilgrims office in Santiago reported 11 fewer pilgrims who walked the Via de la Plata in 2018, compared with 2017.

Since the data isn't perfect, for reasons that are discussed in many other threads, it's debatable whether pilgrim numbers are in decline. But I think it's safe to say that, in contrast to most other pilgrim routes, the numbers on the Via de la Plata are not increasing.

The article speculates that the Via de la Plata needs more infrastructure (i.e. albergues) to attract more pilgrims.


People are reporting that the Via de la Plata is crowded this year - so perhaps there's no "trend" just normal ups and downs for a less travelled path.
Im on day 4 stage 5 and I can tell you it's busy!! Not so much the trails but the Albergues and hostels are getting full and sometimes booked out.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés June/July 2018
VdlP- hatching plans
Just finished in Astorga (today). The VdlP has been *far* busier than I expected with easily 40-60 people on each ‘stage’. To me it has seemed busier than when I walked the Frances in June (albeit a quiet June) last year. My observation is that the current number of albergues, and places in the albergues, cannot cope with this demand. We had to book ahead most days (when possible) and at times it was impossible to move on due to the lack of accommodation and distance between the albergues.
... and by the way, we took the last two places in the 156 bed albergue in Astorga at 4pm...
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Hopefully Via de Bayona/Burgos to Ponferrada/Camino de Invierno
Just finished in Astorga (today). The VdlP has been *far* busier than I expected with easily 40-60 people on each ‘stage’. To me it has seemed busier than when I walked the Frances in June (albeit a quiet June) last year. My observation is that the current number of albergues, and places in the albergues, cannot cope with this demand. We had to book ahead most days (when possible) and at times it was impossible to move on due to the lack of accommodation and distance between the albergues.
... and by the way, we took the last two places in the 156 bed albergue in Astorga at 4pm...
Oh my! :eek: And there I was, advising people against walking it in Summer! At least it has the advantage of being quiet!
 

Dominick

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata 2018, Finisterre 2018,
According to the article in the Extremadura newspaper, Hoy, pilgrim numbers are down on the Via de la Plata. The pilgrims office in Santiago reported 11 fewer pilgrims who walked the Via de la Plata in 2018, compared with 2017.

Since the data isn't perfect, for reasons that are discussed in many other threads, it's debatable whether pilgrim numbers are in decline. But I think it's safe to say that, in contrast to most other pilgrim routes, the numbers on the Via de la Plata are not increasing.

The article speculates that the Via de la Plata needs more infrastructure (i.e. albergues) to attract more pilgrims.


People are reporting that the Via de la Plata is crowded this year - so perhaps there's no "trend" just normal ups and downs for a less travelled path.
Hola; I walked the VDLP in the Fall of 2018; it was my first Camino, and I loved it. I also found the infrastructure to be quite adiquate. I don't think that all the Caminos have to be or should be like the CF or any other Camino. They should each be unique and offer a Pilgrim the experience they are looking for or not. Maybe we should not compare the Caminos and appreciate what each has to offer. Buen Camino y Ultreia
 

Lynn C O'Hara

Mainelynn
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Norte, Primitivo (2017), Portugues (2018), Finisterre/Muxia (2016)
My general comment here having just walked from Sevilla to Salamanca is that many people I did meet on the VdlP were not walking the entire route.

Joe


The VdlP might not be for you. The daily walking options are either short or long, imo.

The accommodation available is more private than Municipal or association. Therefore, once they collect the fee, you do not see them again. There are exceptions but not many between Sevilla and Salamanca, imo.

There is a lot of Roman Architecture along the way, if you are into that.

There are several stretches of highway walking and pasture walking. If you do not like either, this route might not be for you.

If you are looking for hills, between Sevilla and Salamanca, there are very few climbs on this route. There are a couple short steep climbs but very few.

Speaking Spanish on this route is also very helpful.

I found the Mozarabe a much more enjoyable Camino. Much more welcoming and better supported from local associations, especially from Almeria to Granada.

Keep walking,
Joe
 

Lynn C O'Hara

Mainelynn
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Norte, Primitivo (2017), Portugues (2018), Finisterre/Muxia (2016)
Joe,
I’m planning the VdlP for next April and considered beginning on the Via Serrana. Considered...! How many Kms is the Mozarabe to where it meets up with the VdlP?
Thanks,
Lynn
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Joe,
I’m planning the VdlP for next April and considered beginning on the Via Serrana. Considered...! How many Kms is the Mozarabe to where it meets up with the VdlP?
Thanks,
Lynn
Merida is where the Mozarabe meets the VdlP. Almeria to Merida is 616km. For à shorter walk you could start in Malaga, Jaen, Granada, or Córdoba.
Check out the Almeria association’s guide on their Facebook page:
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
Joe,
I’m planning the VdlP for next April and considered beginning on the Via Serrana. Considered...! How many Kms is the Mozarabe to where it meets up with the VdlP?
Thanks,
Lynn
Lynn,

This route is 550 to 600km's. This route will be less populated and hillier (if that is a word) than the VdlP. Several others and I have posted past travels on this route. If I can be of assistance, please feel free to PM me.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

Lynn C O'Hara

Mainelynn
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Norte, Primitivo (2017), Portugues (2018), Finisterre/Muxia (2016)
Merida is where the Mozarabe meets the VdlP. Almeria to Merida is 616km. For à shorter walk you could start in Malaga, Jaen, Granada, or Córdoba.
Check out the Almeria association’s guide on their Facebook page:
Thank you for the info! Much appreciated!
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
I always walk in European summer for 2 reasons..to avoid winter in Oz and the crowds.
Well said,
And less clothes to carry
 

Lynn C O'Hara

Mainelynn
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Norte, Primitivo (2017), Portugues (2018), Finisterre/Muxia (2016)
Lynn,

This route is 550 to 600km's. This route will be less populated and hillier (if that is a word) than the VdlP. Several others and I have posted past travels on this route. If I can be of assistance, please feel free to PM me.

Ultreya,
Joe
Thank you, Joe! I don’t mind the “hillier” part. This will be my sixth Camino, and because I am unable to make one this year and my addiction is showing, I’d like to do a longer one, and less populated is of no issue. I had been interested in the Mozarabe on its own—not realizing I could connect with the VdlP, which was my next planned Camino.
As I get further into planning (I spend hours every day now in my favorite past time!), I may check in with you as I have questions. Usually I take things as they come, but this trek piqued my interest. Thank you for your assistance!
Lynn
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I had been interested in the Mozarabe on its own—not realizing I could connect with the VdlP, which was my next planned Camino.
Lots of interesting branches onto and off of the Vldp! One sometimes sees the VdlP and Camino Sanabres referred to as Mozarabic routes "Camino Mozárabe-Vía de la Plata." That's because they were part of the network of routes (along with the paths through Granada and Cordoba) that were used by Christians** who lived under Moorish rule in the south of Spain. The VdlP is the Roman ** Autobahn that these various routes feed into and out of.

* Those Christians have latterly been labeled Mozarabs ("arabized") because they assimilated into Moorish culture in many ways - dress, diet, language - while continuing to follow their religion.

** Pre-Roman, actually. But the Romans improved the surface, fixed the drainage, erected regular milestones, and built the drive-thru hamburger restaurants and 24-hour diners that you need for a proper road trip.
 

Lynn C O'Hara

Mainelynn
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Norte, Primitivo (2017), Portugues (2018), Finisterre/Muxia (2016)
Lots of interesting branches onto and off of the Vldp! One sometimes sees the VdlP and Camino Sanabres referred to as Mozarabic routes "Camino Mozárabe-Vía de la Plata." That's because they were part of the network of routes (along with the paths through Granada and Cordoba) that were used by Christians** who lived under Moorish rule in the south of Spain. The VdlP is the Roman ** Autobahn that these various routes feed into and out of.

* Those Christians have latterly been labeled Mozarabs ("arabized") because they assimilated into Moorish culture in many ways - dress, diet, language - while continuing to follow their religion.

** Pre-Roman, actually. But the Romans improved the surface, fixed the drainage, erected regular milestones, and built the drive-thru hamburger restaurants and 24-hour diners that you need for a proper road trip.
Thanks for the history and the humor!! I’m looking forward to this one!
 

Lynn C O'Hara

Mainelynn
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Norte, Primitivo (2017), Portugues (2018), Finisterre/Muxia (2016)

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
We first walked the VdlP in 2008, and were lucky if we saw anyone all day and a full alburgue meant 9 other people. Ten years on I walked the route again, same time of year (September start) and there were between 12 to 20 people a night in the alburgues so I was left with the impression it had inreased in use. As said above, walkers tend to go in Spring and Autumn to make the most of the weather and temperatures last year were way hotter then when we experienced in 2008 which made it tougher. The weather may also explain the absence of large groups of locals who come out and do a specific stretch, apparently it's popular to walk to view the spring windflowers.

There's been a number of threads debating why this route isn't more popular, personally I like it's rugged, make it'll break it nature. It's a true long distance haul and not for short stops and pack forwarding. I think it's good that there are different options and that each route has it's own distinct character, it would be boring if they were all the same.
 

Lindy Lou

Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2018 Portuguese, VDLP September 2019
Oddly enough your reply has confirmed my need to do VdlP.

I’ve let CF comfort provide five reasons, five caminos, to only do CF.

Once time, money, and opportunity allow; VdlP here I come.

Face the fear!
Hi, I walked the Portugues Coastal last year and this year I’m going to walk the VDLP starting in Salamanca. I’m looking for to a whole new experience. I’m aware it is not going to be so picturesque as the CP but in its own way still beautiful. I know the days will be longer and perhaps hotter (? ) but I’m glad I’m mixing it up to experience something else. Only time will tell if I go on to do another like the VDLP. I’m excited for September to hurry up. 🏃🏼‍♀️ 😉
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
you got my hopes up!!
my first camino in 2006 was the VDLP and I loved the solitude..none of that mindless race on the overrated overcrowded CF.....please stay away!
Snap Omar ... Our first camino was also in 2006, the VdlP, only from Salamanca... a heat wave in May/June. Since then, have done VdlP or parts of it, a number of times, once from Huelva to Santiago and it remains my favourite, especially for the wonderful pilgrims we've met along the way and still friends with. May the tourism and masses stay elsewhere!
Madrid Camino a close second favourite, and 2018s Invierno was super special though lonely at times on my own..... Oh well, each route is different I guess.
Not sure I'd call the VdlP 'flatlining'. Its numbers are consistent from year to year with the occasional bubble of pilgrims and crowded albergues. Buen camino, Carole.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Snap Omar ... Our first camino was also in 2006, the VdlP, only from Salamanca... a heat wave in May/June. Since then, have done VdlP or parts of it, a number of times, once from Huelva to Santiago and it remains my favourite, especially for the wonderful pilgrims we've met along the way and still friends with. May the tourism and masses stay elsewhere!
Madrid Camino a close second favourite, and 2018s Invierno was super special though lonely at times on my own..... Oh well, each route is different I guess.
Not sure I'd call the VdlP 'flatlining'. Its numbers are consistent from year to year with the occasional bubble of pilgrims and crowded albergues. Buen camino, Carole.
Have a look at the routes (there are 2) from Mont St Michel...but keep it quiet!
 

Anna Cameron

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances sept-oct 2018
20 pilgrim at the same time wasn't that bad for VdLP, while I did it. I don't expect more than 50% of the ~9000 had been starting between Seville and Salamanca, while a good amount is just doing the last 100km from Ourense (Too lazy to do the math right now).

Leaving the place were I sleept between 6am and noon is fine for me, arriving between 2pm and 9pm works like a charm, a much later arrival has some limits, but why not? In the darker months I prefer to leave and get in with a bit of natural light.

Refering to the temperatures I use to like the thirty something °C. Others start to complain about heat at 20°C with a little glimpse of sun through the clouds, while I do look for gloves and scarf ;). A bit of that is training. After a few hot (>30°C) weeks in summer the colder 20°C days after that are totally different than the same 20°C after a long winter.

Australia (Oz) is such a small island on the globe (with only a dozen climate zones). You will hardly notice the 5 hours flight from one edge to the other. So you can't expect any difference between north and south, nor east and west. Take the forecast for Alice Springs and you will exactly know what happens in Melbourne and Darwin :p.
Hunh??!?!! Pull the other one! Oh, I geddit, joke, right?
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Not sure I'd call the VdlP 'flatlining'. Its numbers are consistent from year to year
I used flatline in the sense of "Failure to increase; remain static," (i.e. consistent numbers of pilgrims over time). I think that this is a precarious situation, which could lead to flatlining in the other sense - i.e. the demise of the facilities on the route that many of us appreciate.

Some people are arguing that if you attract more people to the VdlP, it will lose its character. But the future of the VdlP is not a choice between the current situation or Disney. That's a false dichotomy. I think the likely future scenarios for the VldP range from:
1) A sustainable Camino which has adequate facilities for a relatively rugged kind of pilgrim and which gives life to the towns and villages on the route
to
2) A path with some "gaps" in facilities that can only be walked by autonomous adventurers who carry some shelter and supplies of food.
 

Hansel

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances and Fisterre (2018,08) ,Camino Primitivo, and Fisterre,(2019,04)
Ok, slightly off topic, how much road walking on the via de la plata ? I did the Frances from St . Jean de p dep last summer August onto Fisterre and Muxia, and preferred hillier bits from Leon onwards, and about ok with the amount of road walking,
Back a week from the Primitivo, Oviedo ,and onto Muxia and Fisterre, and less road walking, would be tempted to do this again and add the Salvador, but looking into alternatives for next year, or later this year,
Rambling a bit , but roughly how much asphalt on this route,
Cheers Bill
 

Hamish John Appleby

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances '2017' Camino Portugues '2017' Camino Norte '2018'
The VdlP is the most wonderful Camino, if time is not an issue.

We spent 54 days walking from Almaden de la Plata to Santiago in 2014. We started In late August when it was very warm and we decided to avoid the long lonely stage prior to Almaden because of the heat. Three of the days were spent sightseeing in Merida, Salamanca and Ourense. There were many other fascinating towns and villages along the way, most notably Caceres, but we tried to get to such places early in the day to take in the sights.

Accommodation was never a problem, although I remember two places where later arrivals had to sleep on the kitchen floor or look elsewhere. In two towns the albergues were closed "for painting" ie. bed bugs, but we managed to find relatively low cost accommodation nearby. In another I think we got the last room in a town where bed bugs was the admitted cause of the closed albergue. We learned later that six people took a taxi to the next town and two people slept on the floor of the town hall. On at least four occasions we were either alone in the albergue or were joined by just one other person. Occasionally there was no albergue but we found comfortable hostals that didn't break the bank. Of course a private room with a comfortable bed, clean sheets and real towels was always a welcome option.

I am not sure that we ever went a full day without seeing another peregrino.

I would love to do it again but I was already 70 in 2014 and I am not sure I would be up to it now.

Liam
Don't let age become a mental barrier. I've seen people in their 20s struggle and quit long before the end of their intended destination. Go for it!
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Ok, slightly off topic, how much road walking on the via de la plata ? I did the Frances from St . Jean de p dep last summer August onto Fisterre and Muxia, and preferred hillier bits from Leon onwards, and about ok with the amount of road walking,
Back a week from the Primitivo, Oviedo ,and onto Muxia and Fisterre, and less road walking, would be tempted to do this again and add the Salvador, but looking into alternatives for next year, or later this year,
Rambling a bit , but roughly how much asphalt on this route,
Cheers Bill
Hi Bill,

Good to hear you made it to Muxía and Finisterre!

The Vía de la Plata does not have too much asphalt, more than the Primitivo if I recall well but much less than the Portuguese and Norte. Go for it!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)

Hansel

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances and Fisterre (2018,08) ,Camino Primitivo, and Fisterre,(2019,04)
Hi Bill,

Good to hear you made it to Muxía and Finisterre!

The Vía de la Plata does not have too much asphalt, more than the Primitivo if I recall well but much less than the Portuguese and Norte. Go for it!
Thanks, like everyone, or maybe most people, the more tarmac ,there is , and I start to question why I'm even doing this camino, and my tendons definitely don't like it,
Will start looking into flights to Sevilla, from Scotland, thinking early November or late October would a good time to escape the grey North for a bit,
Bill
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances ('10), Portugues ('11), Promitivo ('13), VdlP ('14), Ingles ('16), Torres ('17), Litoral '19
Don't let age become a mental barrier. I've seen people in their 20s struggle and quit long before the end of their intended destination. Go for it!
We haven't given up walking entirely and will be setting out from Porto on May 22 - following the Litoral.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Refering to the temperatures I use to like the thirty something °C. Others start to complain about heat at 20°C with a little glimpse of sun through the clouds, while I do look for gloves and scarf ;). A bit of that is training. After a few hot (>30°C) weeks in summer the colder 20°C days after that are totally different than the same 20°C after a long winter.

Australia (Oz) is such a small island on the globe (with only a dozen climate zones). You will hardly notice the 5 hours flight from one edge to the other. So you can't expect any difference between north and south, nor east and west. Take the forecast for Alice Springs and you will exactly know what happens in Melbourne and Darwin :p.
Hola - please, without wishing to demean your comments (its your opinion so you are welcome to it) but Alice Springs is in the centre (approx) of a continent of around 7.7 million SqKm. Its over a 1500 Km to Adelaide (due South); 1800 km to Melbourne (S/SE). As for comparing Alice Springs to Darwin - well it could not be more different, eg on January 31 in Alice it likely to 41'C with almost no humidity whilst Darwin will be around 31-33 C with humidity around 80%, in the morning and 95% in the afternoon.
In fact its further from Sydney to Perth than it is from Moscow to London and no one would ever attempt to predict Moscow's weather based on what is happening in London. Australia has more than 12 climatic zones. The island state (Tasmania) has three or four on its own. So please do not generalise about my country. Thank you!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Australia has more than 12 climatic zones.
I think we all know that Australia is huge. Pilger was just trying to be funny (hence the tongue out icon). Put it down as a "Lost In Translation" moment.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés June/July 2018
VdlP- hatching plans
Ok, slightly off topic, how much road walking on the via de la plata ?
Rambling a bit , but roughly how much asphalt on this route,
There are a few long stretches of 15km or so and some shorter sections of 6-8km but much of the time when the route follows the road there is a path running along side the road. That said, most of the route is on dusty gravel tracks which are quite hard work underfoot (shoes completely worn down!) and some even tarmac can be a welcome change...
 

Hansel

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances and Fisterre (2018,08) ,Camino Primitivo, and Fisterre,(2019,04)
There are a few long stretches of 15km or so and some shorter sections of 6-8km but much of the time when the route follows the road there is a path running along side the road. That said, most of the route is on dusty gravel tracks which are quite hard work underfoot (shoes completely worn down!) and some even tarmac can be a welcome change...
Thanks Espee , I think it's probably a camino I will do , but maybe in shorter stages, the tendon issues , are from over use, we weren't designed to walk for days on end ,on unforgiving surfaces, if the road goes up and down a bit , that helps too.
Lots of planning to do, :)
Bill
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés June/July 2018
VdlP- hatching plans
I’ve heard it said that the VdlP is the hardest camino. It was certainly more gruelling than the Frances - primarily because long stages of 30+km are unavoidable and it’s quite common for there to be stretches of 15, 20, sometimes 30km with nowhere to get food or water. According to one hospitalero, at least one pilgrim dies on this Camino each year. There are long stretches without shade and in the early afternoon sun it’s easy to become dehydrated (and sunburnt) and with fewer pilgrims on the trail it’s harder to get help if you run out of water. In places the path is also very straight, flat and wide which makes the long stages even harder!

Having said all this, I had a fantastic time. Met some wonderful people along the way. Lots of interesting cities, Roman history and Spanish culture. This ended up being much more of a long distance walk than a pilgrimage but I’ll leave that explanarion for another day!
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Reading some posts here and elsewhere others could get the impression the VDLP is akin to crossing the Sahara in high summer. It's not that bad! I always go in summer and had no problems sure there some long sections,,the 40km from Carcaboso comes to mind but I just checked my diary and left at 8.50am for that stretch the last time I was on the VDLP. There are only 3 sections over 30kms and a further 5 in the high 20's with most being 20-25
 

Dominick

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata 2018, Finisterre 2018,
Reading some posts here and elsewhere others could get the impression the VDLP is akin to crossing the Sahara in high summer. It's not that bad! I always go in summer and had no problems sure there some long sections,,the 40km from Carcaboso comes to mind but I just checked my diary and left at 8.50am for that stretch the last time I was on the VDLP. There are only 3 sections over 30kms and a further 5 in the high 20's with most being 20-25
Good words Hermano; remember Ultreia...
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I’ve heard it said that the VdlP is the hardest camino.
I found the Mozarabe much harder, and I believe there are many more difficult routes. I found the VDLP to be quite moderate, in physical demands, although I walked in early spring when the weather was mild. The "difficulty" of the VDLP is only that you need to figure things out for yourself, occasionally, and it is a big advantage to speak some Spanish.

It is true that there are some long stretches - 10, 15, 20 km - with no place to get food and water, and sometimes no place to sit down except on the ground or a concrete mojon.

long stages of 30+km are unavoidable
But this is not the case! The longest stretch that cannot be avoided except by taking a taxi part way is the 30 km from Castilblanco to Almaden de la Plata. Now that the albergue at the Embalse de Alcantara is open, there is no other place one must walk more than 30 km to find accommodation. Most people walk some longer stages because they choose not to stay in the accommodation that is available at, say, 15 km. This is where the "figuring things out" comes in - if you want to avoid very short days, you might need to walk a long one.

I have not walked the Sanabre route, but have mapped it out and again I do not see any stage where one must walk more than 30 km.
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Now that the albergue at the Embalse de Alcantara is open, there is no other place one must walk more than 30 km to find accommodation.
The reopening of the albergue seems to have been a little haphazard. I've read a couple of reports of people finding it closed on occasions even after its official reopening last year. Well worth checking in advance for the current position as there are no alternatives nearby.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés June/July 2018
VdlP- hatching plans
For me there were several stages when nearly 40km in one day were unavoidable. This was partly owing to lack of accommodation available over Semana Santa and also because I was under the impression that the albergue at Alija was closed - necessitating two very long days back to back. I think I walked over 10 x 30km days - some of these because I wanted to avoid very short days but at least 5 of them unavoidable.

I am not saying that I myself found the VdlP hard (far from it). And my observation is that most other pilgrims were well prepared for the route (barely any complaints of blisters or tendinitis) but I think it is worth pointing out how different it is to the Frances, where I remember the longest distance with ‘nothing’ being 16km out of Carión de los Condes, there were lots of villages to naturally break up the day and generally more varied terrain.

I was talking to a hospitalero in San Pedro who made some interesting observations - one being the large number of pilgrims who simply drop out or go home. (E.g. 40-50 per day in Seville and only 1-2 per day making in to San Pedro).

Another being the harshness of the route ‘of two halves’ - Andalucía and Extremadura being kind in the winter months, whilst in Castilla y León it is cold, often with severe rain and flooding (think backpack above your head)... the situation reversing in the summer with soaring temperatures and heat in Andalucía and Extremadura.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
it is worth pointing out how different it is to the Frances
I agree that it is different, and that it calls a little on a person's self-sufficiency and ability to work out solutions. That is what I love about it. The VDLP is not a moving sidewalk that you can step on and do no more thinking. However, it is not a bold hazardous trek into the wilderness and isolation. It is not particularly demanding physically (assuming, of course, that water needs are taken care of).

I am a moderately fit 70 year old woman. I have never walked 40 km and don't expect to. However, I could probably do so if it were absolutely necessary. (Most people could, but they'd need to take the next day off!) I carry a detailed list of places and distances so I can see the facilities for a day or two ahead, I have a KML track on my phone, backup battery, enough knowledge of Spanish to call for help and explain myself, enough water for the circumstances, and I wear my thinking cap.

I just think that the "difficulty" of the route is exaggerated or misunderstood. I think it is a perfect level of challenge.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I just think that the "difficulty" of the route is exaggerated or misunderstood. I think it is a perfect level of challenge.
Estimating what someone else will find "difficult" is not easy. When describing the VDLP to prospective walkers a big problem is that many people assume that the Camino Frances is the norm for pilgrim routes - the standard by which all other routes should be judged. Perceptions of difficulty are very personal and subjective. I have often read descriptions of the Camino Frances which make it sound like a cross between the ascent of Everest without oxygen and the Marathon des Sables. In reality the Camino Frances is the exception in almost all respects and possibly the most straightforward and feather-bedded long-distance route on the planet. Those who have walked the less popular Caminos in Spain or long-distance routes elsewhere may well find the VDLP relatively straightforward as it makes demands with which we are already familiar. But if your only prior experience of long-distance walking is the Camino Frances in recent years then the level of challenge can easily be underestimated.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I have often read descriptions of the Camino Frances which make it sound like a cross between the ascent of Everest without oxygen and the Marathon des Sables.
So true! Even the ascent to Orrison is not bad, if you (a) have a reasonably light pack, (b) walk veeerrrrryy slowly, (c) don't try to stay in step with anyone else, and (d) stop talking in excitement to every passing pilgrim. Of course this assumes there aren't health problems that add special challenges.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés June/July 2018
VdlP- hatching plans
I agree that it is different, and that it calls a little on a person's self-sufficiency and ability to work out solutions. That is what I love about it. The VDLP is not a moving sidewalk that you can step on and do no more thinking. However, it is not a bold hazardous trek into the wilderness and isolation. It is not particularly demanding physically (assuming, of course, that water needs are taken care of).

I am a moderately fit 70 year old woman. I have never walked 40 km and don't expect to. However, I could probably do so if it were absolutely necessary. (Most people could, but they'd need to take the next day off!) I carry a detailed list of places and distances so I can see the facilities for a day or two ahead, I have a KML track on my phone, backup battery, enough knowledge of Spanish to call for help and explain myself, enough water for the circumstances, and I wear my thinking cap.

I just think that the "difficulty" of the route is exaggerated or misunderstood. I think it is a perfect level of challenge.
I agree with all the above!
 

anthikes

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 SJPdP > SdC
2018 Porto > SdC
2019 Sevilla > SdC
I have just finished but I took the Astorga route as I wanted to do the entire VDLP and save the Sanabres for when I walk from Alicante or Valencia.

I hardly saw anyone north of Granja apart from at La Belzada, the stop before Astorga.

Before then the numbers seemed perfect. Never a bed rush but enough pilgrims to make it social.

Seemed way more down in Andalucia but I am guessing many drop out perhaps?
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I have just finished but I took the Astorga route as I wanted to do the entire VDLP and save the Sanabres for when I walk from Alicante or Valencia.
From Granja to Astorga looks like an interesting and peaceful little stretch of Camino. I followed Steve Cole on instagram when he walked it earlier this year:
Seemed way more down in Sevilla but I am guessing many drop out perhaps?
Perhaps there are bubbles of pilgrims at different times and on different sections of the Camino. The folks who did a section from Seville at easter this year might return in a few months or a year to do a section from Salamanca ... :)
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés June/July 2018
VdlP- hatching plans
From Granja to Astorga looks like an interesting and peaceful little stretch of Camino. I followed Steve Cole on instagram when he walked it earlier this year:

Perhaps there are bubbles of pilgrims at different times and on different sections of the Camino. The folks who did a section from Seville at easter this year might return in a few months or a year to do a section from Salamanca ... :)
Yes - this is certainly the case. People were walking stages of 1-3 weeks but I didn’t meet anyone who had started later along the route than Seville.

@anthikes I must have missed you by a few days. Everyone I had met turned left at Granja and that stretch to astorga was blissfully quiet. I only met one other person (at the tiny hostel in Villabrazaro) and she was great company for the following day’s 38km and on into astorga. My otherwise relatively crowded experience on the VdlP was definitely linked with Semana Santa / Easter holidays.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked CF September/October 2015
I am one of those pilgrims who is anxiously waiting for the VdlP to develop a little more infrastructure before I can walk it. Because I have terrible knees, I simply cannot do 30+ km days. So I am definitely a “If you build it they will come” pilgrim. I sincerely hope they continue to invest there. Sevilla is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I really want to visit Salamanca.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
@caminoresearcher - I don't think that the VdlP infrastructure is going to be transformed any time soon. Perhaps you could consider doing it by bicycle. I met a guy with a serious health condition who made it as far as Salamanca but couldn't continue on foot, so he bought a bicycle and cycled the same stages as the walkers from then onwards. He was such an inspiration.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
You really don't need to, if you review the route, accept some short days instead of long ones, and take a taxi to help once or twice.
True. Godesalco offers a tool for initial route planning and distance calculations on VdlP:

The two stages where there's no accommodation for more than 25km are:
  • Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almadén de la Plata (30.2km)
  • Fuenterroble de Salvatierra - San Pedro de Rozados (28.7km)
So, as long as all facilities are operating (depends on the season), you have options to break up the other stages into distances of less than 25km.

It looks like there are taxi firms in Castilblanco de los Arroyos and Almadén de la Plata, so it should be possible to work something out for that stage. For Fuenterroble de Salvatierra to San Pedro de Rozados, it might be trickier.
 

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