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what's the best place to start my Camino?

Camino(s) past & future
June/July 2015
Hi all,

I walked last year starting from Leon, skipped a bit ahead due to the heat wave and not wanting any more heat exhaustion, and did Sarria to Santiago, 100 miles in all. Not bad for a middle-aged, first time hiker, eh?

I have many months to go before I start summer 2016's Camino, but I wanted to know what others thought of the best place to start?

I had originally wanted to start in SJPdP and go the Valcarlos route. However, I wonder if I could make the Route Napoleon. How steep is it, really? Would someone who is moderately overweight but very active have real issues? And coming down from Roncesvalles -- what about that? I've heard that the way down is super steep and rocky/gravelly. I have knee issues, and now ankle issues (peroneal tendonosis that's healing slowly). A friend suggested I skip ahead and start in Pamplona. I'd really like to walk from the very beginning of the CF. Any ideas, suggestions, advice are most welcome.

I know no matter where I walk from, the Camino will be lovely, because it'll be all new to me, and because it's simply the Camino. Thanks everyone.

Katie
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
Consider starting from Roncesvalles.
I believe that is more traditional than SJPP anyway - at least that's what I've heard.
Or, if you have knee issues, maybe from Pamplona, because the walk down into Zubiri is also very steep.
Or you could walk the meseta... flatter than a pancake...
 

Peter Fransiscus

Do good and good will come to you.
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
Hi all,

I walked last year starting from Leon, skipped a bit ahead due to the heat wave and not wanting any more heat exhaustion, and did Sarria to Santiago, 100 miles in all. Not bad for a middle-aged, first time hiker, eh?

I have many months to go before I start summer 2016's Camino, but I wanted to know what others thought of the best place to start?

I had originally wanted to start in SJPdP and go the Valcarlos route. However, I wonder if I could make the Route Napoleon. How steep is it, really? Would someone who is moderately overweight but very active have real issues? And coming down from Roncesvalles -- what about that? I've heard that the way down is super steep and rocky/gravelly. I have knee issues, and now ankle issues (peroneal tendonosis that's healing slowly). A friend suggested I skip ahead and start in Pamplona. I'd really like to walk from the very beginning of the CF. Any ideas, suggestions, advice are most welcome.

I know no matter where I walk from, the Camino will be lovely, because it'll be all new to me, and because it's simply the Camino. Thanks everyone.

Katie
Hi Katie, you having knee issues I would say Pamplona.
But at the end you yourself have to make a decision.
Wish you well and a Buen Camino, Peter.
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
If you have knee issues avoid starting in SJPDP. I would agree with Peter, Pamplona would be a great place to start. Before you start out though the pharmacias have great knee braces. No matter what though you will have hills that will test your knees. So if you are not a skier I would suggest you watch how skiers do not go straight down but zig zag. Do the same walking to reduce the strain on your knees & use walking poles to reduce the weight on your knees.
Keith
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
I'm late 50s, slightly heavier than I should be/would like, and until I began training for the Camino never walked anywhere if I could help it!

Last month I started the first part of my Camino, 6 days walking, from SJPdP. The first 8km up out of SJPdP are steep - the route climbs 800m over those 8km, but if you are staying at Orisson that first night there's no need to hurry, stop to watch the griffon vultures wheeling on the air currents, have a coffee at Hunto, look back down and marvel at how far and high you have come, and then suddenly you round a corner and there is the Refuge Orisson (must reserve in advance, and it is a wonderful experience),

Next morning you start out with 16km ahead of you. The climbing is steady and only a bit steep in places. It's not actually that hard. My profile pic was taken on Col de Lepoeder, the highest part of the route. The descent - you have a choice of a steep track through the woods, or a .5km longer route along a winding road. I took this route. I dragged a couple of elastic tube bandages over my knees before I started to walk down, but actually didn't really need them. Definitely zig-zag on downhills to ease the pressure on your knees, trust me it works! As do trekking poles.

If you are reasonably fit, then you should be fine. Have your backpack sent on ahead to Orisson and then Roncesvalles, and do it! Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
June/July 2015
Thank you everyone for all the advice! Much to think about and consider before I start my next Camino. I think the best part of travel is planning in advance, because nothing is out of reach and everything is possible. The actual travel itself is only slightly less pleasurable, because you must make choices, and that means some things will remain unseen and undone. Cheers to all!
 

Conor2015

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Hi, there are two routes to Roncesvalles. There is the high route and the lower route. If you are concerned about your fitness levels take the easier option. It's not a race so allow your body adjust gradually to the Camino over several days. Be sure to get your calve muscles nice and flexible leading up to your Camino. That will help you avoid shinsplints. Talk to a physio beforehand.
 

trevorcc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPD to Santiago 2013,2014 planning Camino de Levante Sept. 2016, now planning March 2018
Hi all,

I walked last year starting from Leon, skipped a bit ahead due to the heat wave and not wanting any more heat exhaustion, and did Sarria to Santiago, 100 miles in all. Not bad for a middle-aged, first time hiker, eh?

I have many months to go before I start summer 2016's Camino, but I wanted to know what others thought of the best place to start?

I had originally wanted to start in SJPdP and go the Valcarlos route. However, I wonder if I could make the Route Napoleon. How steep is it, really? Would someone who is moderately overweight but very active have real issues? And coming down from Roncesvalles -- what about that? I've heard that the way down is super steep and rocky/gravelly. I have knee issues, and now ankle issues (peroneal tendonosis that's healing slowly). A friend suggested I skip ahead and start in Pamplona. I'd really like to walk from the very beginning of the CF. Any ideas, suggestions, advice are most welcome.

I know no matter where I walk from, the Camino will be lovely, because it'll be all new to me, and because it's simply the Camino. Thanks everyone.

Katie
I have thought about this at length and after all the thinking, my suggestion is the first step out your door, just joking I am starting at Valencia this time. Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
Hi Katie, you having knee issues I would say Pamplona.
But at the end you yourself have to make a decision.
Wish you well and a Buen Camino, Peter.
With knee issues, starting anywhere east of Burgos is still going to present problems: Pamplona to Puente La Reina - you have to negotiate the Alto del Perdon; Estrella to Santo Domingo - lots of up hills and down and then from Belorado to Burgos you have the "joy" of the multiple "altos" between Villafranca Montes to St Juan and then that lovely rocky bit east of Atapuerca. So what do you do? Limit your backpack to 6kg (14 lbs); consider transporting the pack and last be by no means least have two good walking sticks (and use them) and take the Camino very slow and steady. If this means less than 10 km per day then so be it. You will know from the previous Camino what your body is telling you. Buen Camino.
 

jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (1994)
Camino Francés (2013 - 2018)
Camino Portugués (2015 - 2018)
Hi all,

I walked last year starting from Leon, skipped a bit ahead due to the heat wave and not wanting any more heat exhaustion, and did Sarria to Santiago, 100 miles in all. Not bad for a middle-aged, first time hiker, eh?

I have many months to go before I start summer 2016's Camino, but I wanted to know what others thought of the best place to start?

I had originally wanted to start in SJPdP and go the Valcarlos route. However, I wonder if I could make the Route Napoleon. How steep is it, really? Would someone who is moderately overweight but very active have real issues? And coming down from Roncesvalles -- what about that? I've heard that the way down is super steep and rocky/gravelly. I have knee issues, and now ankle issues (peroneal tendonosis that's healing slowly). A friend suggested I skip ahead and start in Pamplona. I'd really like to walk from the very beginning of the CF. Any ideas, suggestions, advice are most welcome.

I know no matter where I walk from, the Camino will be lovely, because it'll be all new to me, and because it's simply the Camino. Thanks everyone.

Katie
Not sure how many days you have, have you considered another route (Portuguese?), which may be a bit flatter than the French one, which is really only flat in the Meseta.
Good luck and Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
If you are set on Saint Jean, then try to book a place at Orisson 8km out-- this is about a quarter of the way, and makes your first day tough, but possible. You should check with your physician for their advice, and they might refer you to a specialist for knee-strengthening exercises and support (as others note, there's plenty of descents). And in any case you can take the Valcarlos route, which is also a good walk, and allows you to break your walk at Valcarlos. I would strongly suggest that you do shorter stages (12km-28km) for your first week, so that you can build up endurance. While I prepared, I do not think that anyone is really quite ready enough, but you want to be ready enough not to fail. As you are walking in summer, you should be careful about your water intake, as well as the salts which keep us going.

The real starting point, as a Danish-Brazilian pilgrim told me years ago (and I was annoyed with his answer!), is our front door. There are lots of places from which you can start walking, and no one departure point is better than any other. Crossing the Pyrenees from SJean is spectacular, and so is walking out of Pamplona into the fields of Navarre. Pack scandalously lightly, pace yourself, and you'll have a great time.
 

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