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walking the Camino aged 79 (the French way)

billclemett

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
My first will be from France (September 2021}
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.
As soon as you have your dates make a reservation at Refuge Orisson to break up the first day over the Pyrenees.


If you are unable to stay at Orisson you can arrange to walk part way to Roncesvalles and be transported back to St Jean Pied de Port, then brought the next morning to where you had left off via Express Bouricott's Mountain Shuttle.


Mountain shuttle.png
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi! Welcome to the forum! I haven't walked in September, but understand that it can be quite hot. You might want to consider starting late in the month - both for reasons of crowds and for cooler weather. Of course, none of us knows what the number of pilgrims (or the weather) will be like next year. I have walked in October-November and quite enjoyed it.

When you say you want to start in France, do you mean to start at St Jean Pied de Port (SJPP)? Many people choose to start at Roncesvalles on the Spanish side of the border, or even in Pamplona or elsewhere. It is simply not true that you must or should start the Camino Frances at SJPP. It is misguided to have the idea that you must start there in order to do a "whole Camino." You will understand that better after a few days of walking.

The full day from SJPP to Roncesvalles is somewhat arduous, especially if you are jet-lagged and just getting your legs going. You have a choice of two routes:
  • Napoleon route that goes a little higher over the Pyrenees, past the Orisson albergue (mentioned in the post above). The views are great, IF the weather is good, but the first 8 km might be the hardest section you encounter on the Camino Frances. I find that as long as I walk very slowly, stop every few minutes for breath, and avoid trying to chat to other people, I am fine. But I don't generally have a problem with overheating.
  • The Valcarlos route through the town of Valcarlos, where there is an albergue and other lodging. I haven't walked it, but those who have say it is lovely. It gives you two slightly more even days, and more flexibility in last-minute accommodation decisions.
The number of beds is limited at Orisson and you must reserve well in advance because they are usually fully booked in September.

There are various ways you can manage that first stage - for example taxis are available from SJPP to Orisson in case you don't want to do 27 km to Roncesvalles and you can't get accommodation at Orisson. You can walk there one day, get a taxi shuttle back to SJPP, and then get transport back to Orisson the next morning. (This is very easy to arrange, and you will find you have lots of company.) You might also arrange to have your backpack transported that day, even if you never expect to do it again.

There is a lot of information here on the forum about what the route and facilities are like. However, there are so many unknowns about the post-Covid situation that it is very difficult for us to make planning recommendations. Even so, we will try to answer your questions!
 

billclemett

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
My first will be from France (September 2021}
Hi! Welcome to the forum! I haven't walked in September, but understand that it can be quite hot. You might want to consider starting late in the month - both for reasons of crowds and for cooler weather. Of course, none of us knows what the number of pilgrims (or the weather) will be like next year. I have walked in October-November and quite enjoyed it.

When you say you want to start in France, do you mean to start at St Jean Pied de Port (SJPP)? Many people choose to start at Roncesvalles on the Spanish side of the border, or even in Pamplona or elsewhere. It is simply not true that you must or should start the Camino Frances at SJPP. It is misguided to have the idea that you must start there in order to do a "whole Camino." You will understand that better after a few days of walking.

The full day from SJPP to Roncesvalles is somewhat arduous, especially if you are jet-lagged and just getting your legs going. You have a choice of two routes:
  • Napoleon route that goes a little higher over the Pyrenees, past the Orisson albergue (mentioned in the post above). The views are great, IF the weather is good, but the first 8 km might be the hardest section you encounter on the Camino Frances. I find that as long as I walk very slowly, stop every few minutes for breath, and avoid trying to chat to other people, I am fine. But I don't generally have a problem with overheating.
  • The Valcarlos route through the town of Valcarlos, where there is an albergue and other lodging. I haven't walked it, but those who have say it is lovely. It gives you two slightly more even days, and more flexibility in last-minute accommodation decisions.
The number of beds is limited at Orisson and you must reserve well in advance because they are usually fully booked in September.

There are various ways you can manage that first stage - for example taxis are available from SJPP to Orisson in case you don't want to do 27 km to Roncesvalles and you can't get accommodation at Orisson. You can walk there one day, get a taxi shuttle back to SJPP, and then get transport back to Orisson the next morning. (This is very easy to arrange, and you will find you have lots of company.) You might also arrange to have your backpack transported that day, even if you never expect to do it again.

There is a lot of information here on the forum about what the route and facilities are like. However, there are so many unknowns about the post-Covid situation that it is very difficult for us to make planning recommendations. Even so, we will try to answer your questions!
Thank you I appreciate any info and I might go end September if not so hot. C-19 unknown but I am hopeful!
 

MisterH

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018 neither successful
I've tried the walk starting in May twice. I was 74 the first time and then 75. For different reasons I failed and had to return early.

Depending on what is happening I plan on making a 3rd attempt in 2022 when I'm 80.

As far as I can tell 2021 is a "holy year" which might increase the walkers. Now all I have to do is get a bunch better at long distance walking.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
As far as I can tell 2021 is a "holy year" which might increase the walkers. Now all I have to do is get a bunch better at long distance walking.
Yes it is a Holy Year, and in normal times, that results in a large increase in walkers. But these are not normal times, and while at this stage it's impossible to predict how the pandemic will affect pilgrim numbers, I suspect that 2021 will be more like a pre-pandemic 'normal year'.

I go into more detail on pilgrim numbers, how the pandemic might affect Holy Year and ways to avoid Holy Year crowds in this article.
 

Anhalter

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
The way from SJPDP to Roncesvalles is breathtaking and i would not have missed it. That said, i'm half your age and a reasonably good walker.
I would, if you choose to take the route, definitely stay at orisson. Aside from some quirks, the experience must be rather nice (told by other pilgrims).

The other alternative would be to start at Roncesvalles. There are plenty of wonderful experiences to be had still. In the end, thats your decision.

For the ongoing way, i would strongly recommend to listen to your body a lot. That will most likely mean, taking shorter days. But from Roncesvalles onwards, you can pretty much end your day at an albergue every 5km or so (i think theres 1-2 stages where you are required to do at least a 10km section, Carrion d.l.C Condes and one i propably forgot).
Unfortunately i had to say farewell to a couple of older pilgrims along my camino that did develop some problems over time they couldnt easily recover from on the way. So dont push it and give your body the time it needs to recover.
And of course, the more you can prepare, the better. Lots of people with mediocre fitness have successfully done the Camino, but being reasonably trained helps quite a bit.
 

cooldavidt

New Member
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.
Hi Bill. I am the same age as you. I have walked the Frances twice. I have been doing a camino since 2011. I did not go in 2020 due to Covid. I have done SJPP-Roncasvales in one day without any problems. I train before I leave home. I walk every day at home for an hour each day- that is the norm. Starting a few months before my camino I lengthen the daily Wal. I end up doing mainly 2 hours as a base, but intersperse longer days during the week. I keep a log. (Suunto gps watch) My weight is pretty constant at 90kg. As I train I gain muscle lose fat.
I travel very light-7kg pack plus water and daily snacks. No transporting. Conditioning is my secret! I usually start at the very end of August and keep to Brierly stages pretty much but take two nights in some of the beautiful towns. I am in no rush!
Maybe I'll see you in September.
 

RRat

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2017
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.
Don't start in SJPDP. The views are breathtaking as long was weather cooperates which on many days is just doesn't. Can be nothing but fog. Makes no sense to start on one of the more difficult sections if fitness is a concern. Watch the weather reports and bus back on a clear day when you've got a few miles under your belt and a feel for what you can do. Also, September can have some warmer days.
 
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Camino Frances 2017
Hi Bill. I was 75 in 2017 when I did the CF starting in SJPdP. I plan on doing it again when I'm 80 in 2022. {I've mentioned my experience re: age in several postings which can be found under my IVAR profile.} I stayed at Orisson to shake off the cobwebs and make adjustments to pack, pace, and gear. I started in late April. I contracted food poisoning in Bayonne, so I was suffering from its effects the first few days. While at Orisson, I ran into a fellow Marine (whose name was also Bill). He was 86 and hiking the Camino to honor his wife's memory. We walked on and off for the next few days and joked that when we were together we were probably the oldest duo on the Camino at a combined 161 years.

Trecile offers sound advice re staying at Orisson. Please consider it; you'll be glad you did. Best of luck to you as you continue to prepare. One geezer to another: you can do this!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino de France: start on 5/14/2019
I started my trek on May 17, 2019 at the age of 74, starting at SJPP, in the midst of a steady rain that turned into what seemed to be 30 mph winds and near freezing conditions. I developed hypothermia and was only saved when I happened upon a warming hut. I had no idea what I would be facing that day and, of course, developed blisters and serious muscle fatigue. I made it to Roncesvalles and found no "room at the inn." It was a perfect storm and I couldn't have started out more unprepared. It took me almost 2 weeks to get rid of the sore muscles and blisters and I also lost the nail on my big toe on the second day.

That all being said, I absolutely loved being a Peregrino. The people I met and the experiences I had were so worth it. If I can talk my wife into letting me go again, I'd like to try the same route in 2022 (and avoid the holy year). Of course, I'll be a little bit better prepared, but also 76 years old... In the meantime, I'm starting to walk stretches of the Appalachian Trail to get back in shape. Other responses have indicated the first day is probably the most difficult. I agree with that! My only advice is that you start walking some hilly terrain (with a full pack) to get an idea what you'll be facing.

You're smart to start asking questions now. Take the responses to heart.

Lew
 

Karlgrino

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015 Portuguese coastal
2017 Frances
2018 Norte
2019 Portuguese inland
2020 La Plata
Hi Bill
At the age of 66 in 2017 I started in SJPP, taking the Napoleon route in the beginning of July. That of course is an entire personal choice; me personally I would have forever regretted it had I not started there. Nobody knows you better than yourself, so I can only share my own experience to give you perspective rather than advice. One thing I would urge you to do is to check with the pilgrims office in SJPP the night before you leave about the weather. Stay an extra day if it is going to be questionable!! I met a number of pilgrims that chanced it and got themselves in life threatening situations. I started early at day break and reached Orisson for breakfast. Next break was a food truck 2 hours further, the awe-inspiring scenery made it easy to keep going even so its is a strenuous trek. At the crest I took another rest and than went downhill to Roncesvalles. The temperatures were perfect, for the majority of the day I was in the cooler mountains. Since I couldn't find a bed in Roncesvalles, I got my stamp at the Monastir and walked on to the next village, another 3km. As it turned out that was he most difficult day and a perfect start for me since it set me up for the rest of the Camino.; the experience of the first day helped me to face the following sometimes challenging days. I did not particularly trained but I am reasonable fit and in average shape. This July ,now 69, I walked the VdP starting in Sevilla. The first 10 days temperatures were +120F, compared to the CdF this was very hot!! Next year I am planning to Start in Ireland, ferry to Bilboa and take the Primitivo. My eyes are set and I am already looking fwd to do the CdF again when I am 75!!
Follow your gut, trust your instincts and it will be a Buen camino!
Karl
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Bill, going through Valcarlos instead of walking the Napoleon route has been mentioned. I've run GPS tracks though a program which keeps track of how much elevation gain is on each track. The Valcarlos route has much more ups and downs so there isn't as much difference between the routes as it may look at first. The Valcarlos route does save the hardest stretch for day 2 though.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
@billclemett lay back and relax;; all will be fine.

First, about temperatures: All of Sept. is fine. I have many Caminos behind me, and I know this :)

Remember, on the Camino, you will be in bed by 9-10 PM (lights are turned off at 10 PM almost all places). So getting up at 5-6 AM is normal. You then have 6-8 hours for walking, which should bring you forwards atleast 25 kms, but shorter if you feel for it. So, from 1PM or so, whatever, when the afternoon heat mat set in, you have already completed the day's walk, and you can sit in the shade, sipping a cold beer, and watching the late pilgrims stressing away, while you already have a bed, a dinner plan, and the walk next day is already planned.

As for time; you are retired, so you have all the time in the world for your Camino. Eating, drinking and albergue lodging is far cheaper in Spain than in most other countries. Spend doble time on your Camino adventure, and enjoy life; you can afford it, you will enjoy it even more, no stress whatsoever, and the locals need your money after this horrible year. I have the same objective for my next Camino.

You will feel good; they will feel good.

Buen Camino!

Edit: I understand that you plan to walk the Camino Frances, which I fully support. A very meaningful first Camino. Wise choice. Here is a day-to-day planning tool which is very helpful: https://godesalco.com/plan

Buy yourself a Camino guide so you can see all places, distances, facilities etc. all along. I recommend this cheap but good one: https://www.csj.org.uk/shop/camino-...pied-de-port-to-santiago-de-compostela-201819

The main site: https://www.csj.org.uk/ contains a lot of useful information.

BTW: I am 66. Currently planning my 2035 walk. Never too late.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
So, from 1PM or so, whatever, when the afternoon heat mat set in, you have already completed the day's walk
And geographically Spain should be in a different time zone. It is likely that for you the sun in Spain at 1:00 in September is in the same position that it would be at 12:00 in March at your home in NZ (except you look south instead of north).
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
My wife and I have walked Camino Frances three times, 2015-2017-2019. Each time from St Jean to Santiago. St Jean is a wonderful village with great shops and ambiance. Fun to get advice and your first stamp at the Pilgrim's office there. We started each of our three caminos in mid-September and arrived in Santiago in late October. The weather has mostly been fantastic. During our second camino, we hiked with my brother and his wife. After a few days of off and on rain, we had over 30 days of blue skies - no rain in Galicia until we arrived in Santiago. We hiked the Napoleon route the first time, then the Valcarlos route the other two caminos. We liked hiking the Valcarlos route since there are a few towns to stop for potty breaks, refill water containers and have snacks / cafe con leche. We plan to hike Napoleon again in 2021, also beginning in mid-September.

I carried my backpack all three caminos. My wife forwarded hers ahead due to knee pain she experienced the first camino. I plan to ship mine ahead each day next year, no longer needing to prove to anyone I can carry my backpack the full way.

One caution regarding overnights. There are many pilgrims on the trail in September and traffic does not thin out for more than a week, 10 days or longer. I recall pilgrims arriving in towns in early afternoon, only to find out that the entire town had no available beds. We stayed mostly in municipal albergues our first camino to get the authentic experience. Once was enough for us! Last camino, Cindi and I made advance reservations for every night in private rooms with a private bathroom. The comfort and privacy was worth the expense, and we were healthier! Way too easy to pass germs around and pick up a nasty cold with all the coughing, sneezing, etc in a municipal. We already have confirmed reservations in private rooms for our 2021 camino.

Bob
 

jimmyc

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015
I dont think age is a problem as long as you are fit and know your limitations. I walked from SJPP when I was 75. Averaged over 20kms a day and did not have any problems until the last day walking into Santiago when I injured my foot. We started out on 25th May so avoided the heat of July and August.
We took the Valcarlos route rather than the Napoleon. It is not quite so steep and is the original pilgrim trail.
I walked the Portuguese from Lisbon when I was 76, the Primitivo at 78 and the Sanabres last year at 79.
Hopefully I will walk again in Spain late next year when I will be 81.
Do it.
 

Old Kiwi

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Frances 2019
SdC to Muxia and Fisterra 2019
Camino Portuguese "2021"
Hi Bill, I did SF in 2016 when I was 74. I am 72 kilos and carry a 5kg pack and am quite fit. I started in SJPDP and stopped at Orisson the first night. I arrived at Roncesvalles at 11.00am the next day and had all day to fill in. I did the SF again in 2019 when I was 77 but this time I left St. Jean at 6.30am and took my time to Roncesvalles. I arrived there in plenty of time to get a bed and was not exhausted as some were. It could be that your weight, your pack weight and you being a bit older might make a one day crossing hard enough to take the enjoyment out of it when this section needs to be enjoyed. I am off to the Portuguese Camino next June (Covid willing) and I plan to do the CF again in 2023 to celebrate my 80th. The very best of luck to you. Buen Camino.
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.

At the Camino office in St Jean you can get a bus to the cross which is quite near the top. From there it is a good gentle and not too far to walk.

I have done the Camino multiple times and still am incapable to doing that first stretch up the Pyrenees as I do not do any training before I go.

Please don't injure yourself on the first day.
 
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Tvsteve

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I heard someone say, “Not a day goes by when I don’t think of the Camino“. That’s certainly my experience. I plan to do it a 4th time in 2022 when I’m 80. The last one was 2017 from SJPP in 32 days, by myself, without a rest day. I just got into a comfortable rhythm and away I went. Being alone made me more open to visiting with others. In 2022 I’m going to do it different from the other 3: I’m going to start in Pamplona or Roncesvalles, stop in Saria, take a bus or train to Santiago, go to the cathedral for Pilgrims Mass, then walk on to Muxia and Finistare. I will carry my 7kg pack, as I don’t know ahead of time where I will stop. Not too be over judgmental, but the experience from Saria to Santiago is different, and not to my liking. There is a significant difference in the overall demeanor of a Pilgrim who has already walked 700 km, and one just starting out.
 

mikebet

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
It's kind of sadly ironic that the first day out of SJPdP -- if you go all the way to Roncevalles -- may be the hardest day of the entire Frances, and comes at exactly the wrong time when the peregrino is least prepared for it. But the alternative Orrisson stop is maybe a little too close to the start. Wouldn't it be great to have an albergue at the very summit of the climb?
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Yes
Always keep in mind that chronological age is really not the crucial point. Many 80 year old members here continue to walk caminos. Many 40-50-60 year old folks have a very difficult time.
The key continues to be the level of fitness of the pilgrim...not age.

Age may, for some, be a factor in a lower fitness level but the age alone is not a reason to fear walking a camino.

I suggest that anyone contemplating a camino start a training regimen as soon as possible....even if your adventure is further in the future. Start very simple and work your way up to a higher level.

The training will have a very positive effect in your life and will give you the confidence you need to go forward with your plans.
(just my opinion, of course :cool: )
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Oct 2020
From very recent experience on the Francés, I am glad that I opted to stop at Orisson. The second day had atrocious weather and I was totally alone until I met up with others part way down the descent into Roncesvalles. I remember meeting up with a young Irish chap, about a week Lateran he said - oh, you're the older lady who zoomed past me! I have to say, it didn't last. A couple of 30+km days on the flat, put paid to my bounce! If (no, when!) I walk the Francés again, I would still stop at Orisson, or try the other route. NO point in potential injury at the beginning.
 
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Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.

Make sure you have a set of collapsible poles they will be invaluable as there are some tough climbs and you will need them to also help to offset the weigh on your knees at times.

The walk down to Roncessvalles can be a bit tough and then the one into Zubiri is rather dangerous as there is loose shale that has very sharp edges. I saw quite a few people who had fallen and slashed their knees, hands, arms, and legs.

The attached ZIP file may help as it shows the route, town, and height profiles.
 

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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
At the Camino office in St Jean you can get a bus to the cross which is quite near the top. From there it is a good gentle and not too far to walk.

The Pilgrim's Office doesn't have the bus. That's the business next door, Express Bouricott, which I mentioned above.


Mountain shuttle.png
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
The Pilgrim's Office doesn't have the bus. That's the business next door, Express Bouricott, which I mentioned above.


View attachment 88820

Thank you for correcting my post. Much appreciated. Can't wait to get back on the road to Santiago.
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
Excellent!! I think you can do it. Lots of good advice here. I’ll toss in my own here. 1) I think a 20 Sept start would be optimum, 2) Consider starting in Roncesvailles. The first segment is the hardest physically. 3) There is no success or failure. You are walking your own Camino at your own pace and reaping your own rewards and relying on your own resources. There is no standard and no comparisons. 4) if you do walk to Roncesvailles you can send your pack on ahead at least that one day. You can break it into 2 days. My recommendation is that if you do walk, I would add some hill climbing and/or stair climbing as part of your pre-Camino conditioning.
 
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Camino Francés, Oct 2020
Good point! I agree!
Make sure you have a set of collapsible poles they will be invaluable as there are some tough climbs and you will need them to also help to offset the weigh on your knees at times.

The walk down to Roncessvalles can be a bit tough and then the one into Zubiri is rather dangerous as there is loose shale that has very sharp edges. I saw quite a few people who had fallen and slashed their knees, hands, arms, and legs.

The attached ZIP file may help as it shows the route, town, and height profiles.

Good point. I’d never used poles before and nearly didn’t take them. So glad and relieved that I did. I used them from day 2, which was Orisson to Roncesvalles. If you haven’t walked with poles before, I suggest practicing (only because I didn’t and ended up with blisters on my little fingers!)
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
Excellent!! I think you can do it. Lots of good advice here. I’ll toss in my own here. 1) I think a 20 Sept start would be optimum, 2) Consider starting in Roncesvailles. The first segment is the hardest physically. 3) There is no success or failure. You are walking your own Camino at your own pace and reaping your own rewards and relying on your own resources. There is no standard and no comparisons. 4) if you do walk to Roncesvailles you can send your pack on ahead at least that one day. You can break it into 2 days. My recommendation is that if you do walk, I would add some hill climbing and/or stair climbing as part of your pre-Camino conditioning.

There is a morning bus from St Jean to Roncesvalles I believe. St jean is a lovely place and well worth visiting/starting your Camino.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.
As others have said, fitness is more of a factor than age. At 79, if you are not already used to walking long distances in possible heat, might I suggest consulting with your physician before undertakng a camino - the most strenous day, may be your first! It is a taxing walk from SJPdP TO Roncevalles.
If your weight is not the deal, any pounds lost will put less stress on your body. It is no walk in the the park and there are occasional injuries and even, rarely, deaths on it! That said, with clearance from your doctor, good preparation and the option to break the first section into two days, the first section could be a wonderful adventure at any age!
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-SJPDP 2014, VDLP 2014,
Arles-SDC 2015, Lisbon-SDC 2017, Part Ruta de la Lana 2019, VDLP 2019
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100k
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.
Bill, I reckon if you use the Port Hills as your training ground, you will have no problems. Lots of challenge in those hills. Just take them slow. You'll look at the Pyrenees and wonder what the fuss was about. Ditto O Cebreiro. And you have that circular route through Christchurch if you want flat. And all that other fantastic walking nearby. Otherwise have your pack carried if still unsure. And learn to use two walking poles.
 

pepi

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013, 14, 16, 17, 18
To do "The Long One" at 79 is fantastic and if @billclemett wants to do "the full Monty", great!.
Me, cancer-survivor and 76, intend the same (my 6th) in August/September 2021, (C-19 permitting). But experience makes me accept some limitations of age and I take the privilege (to whom am I accountable anyway?) to adapt my walking. I will take a cab to Orisson and start my journey there, or, perhaps in Pamplona, depending on the situation. I will stay in rooms at hotels, pensions, albergues. Likewise, I'll take the offers to have my main bag transported all the way. And I intend to take a bus two or three times. I am old enough to know when I should care for my body, it's the only one I have. For me, the Camino is one of reflection, not one to prove something (WHAT?), to me or others.
Some people need conventions like "SJPdP is the REAL starting point", "walking to Orisson, taxi back to SJPdP and return", "only the one carrying his bag is a true pilgrim" and other "must do this or that", to feel good. If they judge me, I raise my glass of Tinto and one of my fingers. This Camino is going to be a good one...and it's mine.
 
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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I'm intending to walk the Camino September 2021 from France (C-19 permitting). I know from past biking and hiking experience when I was 20 years younger the first 2/3 days are the toughest as you adjust to conditions and find your pace. My enemy is the heat as I am 100kgs (1.88) and lose energy once overheated so would be planning to walk early for the first few days. Has anyone had any similar experience or tips? Thankyou for any wise words.

Bill

Start in Pamplona.

If you want to maximise your distance, book two nights somewhere nice in Pamplona and on day 1 taxi to Zubiri and have an easy walk with no real load back to Pamplona, then carry on from there.

There is nothing important about St Jean. If low cost airlines existed in the Middle Ages the pilgrims - who started out from where they lived, not the point through which residents of a foreign land passed - would have flown direct to Santiago
 

RENSHAW

Official Camino Vino taster
Year of past OR future Camino
2003 CF Roncesvalles to Santiago
2/4 weeks on the CF frequently.
Hospitalero San Anton June 2016.
May I suggest that you start in Pamplona , You are a very big man carrying a big frame - please understand , this is not intended as an insult? Limit your first few days to between 5 and 10 km per day. Remember , the only reason why you may be able to do this is that you choose your parents very carefully? SLOWLEY! , forget the Pyrenees.
 

Micah26

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino France's (2018)
Hi,
I’ve only walked the CF 1x so I’m no expert! But, at 56 s/p stroke I have some limitations and limited energy. I decided not to start at SJPP wanting to give myself a change to finish and avoiding the high altitude ( which I don’t do well with!). I started in Pamplona the first day was rough! Luckily I walked with 2 experienced people and with encouragement they got me through! After that first day my mantra was slow and sure... it got me through! I had to let people go I connected to but for me that was part of the journey! I “trained” a year walking 5 mi a day. Once you’re there and find your pace it works out! Plan a day off here and there...Bon Camino😊
 

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