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Which are the “wilder” (least paved, most rural) Spanish routes?

Time of past OR future Camino
May 2022
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.
 
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I have only walked 4 routes, Frances, Via de la Plata, Invierno, Finisterre.
The 'stand out' is the Via de la Plata.
Not much road walking at all compared to the others.
If I had to guess......maybe 25% roads?
And lots of Roman ruins to explore....... Some not so much ruins at all.

The other three, again a guess and you have walked the Frances, maybe 45-50% roads?
 
Check out the Camino Primitivo. (The original Camino, the legendary one that began it all!!)
Starting in Oviedo, mostly mountain paths to Lugo and beyond, views are spectacular if the weather is kind, It is a challenging walk with options that are really wild so you will need to carry provisions.....
 
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Check out the Camino Primitivo. (The original Camino, the legendary one that began it all!!)
Starting in Oviedo, mostly mountain paths to Lugo and beyond, views are spectacular if the weather is kind, It is a challenging walk with options that are really wild so you will need to carry provisions.....
Caomhin - I think you must be so fleet of foot, you floated over the Primativo's many paved roads ; )

I so wanted the Primitivo to be "a wild camino", but it simply isn't. There are some nice mountain views (I love mountains) and like every camino has it's own character, but.... there are considerable sections of road walking: there's the long curvy road from the dam to Salame, walks literally along a busy highway up to windmills, a pretty mountain pass (nice views/strong winds) - but also substantial paved road and a long heavily traffic road into Lugo, etc.

Everything is relative ; ) but it's fair to say walking a camino is not a wilderness experience (although caminos are profoundly amazing). I'm meeting more and more pilgrims these past few years recommending various GR routes in Spain - . and hope to explore these soon. For myself, sections of the Olvidado, Lebaneigo (in the beautiful Pico de Europa mountains), Sanabres and the "over much too quick" San Salvador stand out for areas that are especially beatutiful with some "proper" hiking trails.
 
Except for one morning of walk by the highway, the short Camino Lebaniego is an amazing experience, and very, VERY wild if you opt for the variants. It runs on the other side of the mountains where the Salvador (mentioned above) goes.

I wrote about my experience in this thread. The views... i had never seen anything so beautiful before. And I've travelled a fair bit.
 
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@sarahchicago , I agree with @Quietways, there is a fair bit of Road walking on the Primitivo. I absolutely loved the Camino, however I don't recall a single day that didn't include a moderate amount of Road walking - except perhaps the Hospitales, although even there there's some at the end of the day. And my memories reasonably fresh I just walked it a few months ago..... .
I don't really think it fulfills the criteria you've outlined above.
 
I finished walking the Camino de Santiago de Gran Canaria about half an hour ago. Although it is quite short - a little under 70km - it is the most scenically dramatic and physically demanding Camino route I have walked. From sea level to sea level climbing to well over 1700+m elevation in between. Very varied in terrain and vegetation. Arid semi-desert canyons in the south, steep rocky mountains with pine forest in the centre, then green pasture hills in the north. Finishing with a stroll past banana plantations on the edge of town. Only a few short sections on sealed roads and those are largely in the final 12km. For historical reasons the church of Santiago in Gáldar has a special status as a proxy for the cathedral in Santiago.
 
If you’re looking for less concrete and more scenery I’d make a plug for the Camino de Madrid(having just finished the Madrid myself). Very little concrete other than the first day leaving Madrid, beautiful churches in Segovia and Wamba, ruins, Roman roads etc, throughout. It’s normally very quiet with only a pilgrim or two here and there. Only 2 weeks walking but you can connect to the Frances or Salvador in Sahagun.
If you want to extend the walk by starting before Madrid, you can also take one of the lesser known routes into Madrid such walking the Ucles or one of the others in reverse.
I’m looking for similar routes like you and will start the Lana this April (which has the option of taking the Ucles into Madrid from Cuenca.)
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Parts of the Via Serrana from La Linea de la Concepcion to Sevilla are very wild and mountainous, the day out of Olvera is walking on an abandoned railway line through 20 tunnels, the amazing historic town of Ronda - it has a bit of everything. Like many other caminos, there is still a fair share of road-walking. Depending on time of year, you might not see another pilgrim.
 
I have only walked 4 routes, Frances, Via de la Plata, Invierno, Finisterre.
The 'stand out' is the Via de la Plata.
Not much road walking at all compared to the others.
If I had to guess......maybe 25% roads?
And lots of Roman ruins to explore....... Some not so much ruins at all.

The other three, again a guess and you have walked the Frances, maybe 45-50% roads?
I agree: Via de la Plata.
 
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Parts of the Via Serrana from La Linea de la Concepcion to Sevilla are very wild and mountainous, the day out of Olvera is walking on an abandoned railway line through 20 tunnels, the amazing historic town of Ronda - it has a bit of everything. Like many other caminos, there is still a fair share of road-walking. Depending on time of year, you might not see another pilgrim.
I walked the Via Serrana in 2020. Absolutely superb and yes, no one else out there doing it.
 
Except for one morning of walk by the highway, the short Camino Lebaniego is an amazing experience, and very, VERY wild if you opt for the variants. It runs on the other side of the mountains where the Salvador (mentioned above) goes.

I wrote about my experience in this thread. The views... i had never seen anything so beautiful before. And I've travelled a fair bit.
100%
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.
Th Olvidado - In my case GPs was pretty important some days ...VERY quiet and remote
 
it's fair to say walking a camino is not a wilderness experience (although caminos are profoundly amazing)

I agree completely with @Quietways. I have walked some of the more remote camino routes, but each one comes with its fair share of road walking. The Salvador has a lot of asphalt into Mieres and from Mieres into Oviedo, but that road walking is combined with a long stretch of mountain glory from Buiza to Pajares and beyond. The Olvidado has some of the most beautiful mountain scenery I’ve seen on a camino, and more days of beautiful mountain scenery than any other camino I’ve walked, but right after one of those jaw-dropping stages from Boñar, you have 6-8 long hard slogging kms on the side of the road. The Baztán has some glorious high hill walking, but there are stretches of road walking in between. As Quietways says, that just inevitably comes with walking village to village. “Proper” thru-hiking trails with no roads are likely to require tents/huts and way fewer services.

Untraveled caminos don’t necessarily come with less road walking (e.g., Invierno, very untraveled, lots of roads). Lots of dirt paths on a camino doesn’t mean remote (e.g., Madrid, least road walking of any camino I’ve walked, but only one “remote” day from Cercedilla). Remote doesn’t mean no road walking (e.g., Olvidado or Salvador). But that’s what the camino is — going from whatever Point A you choose to the same Point B, Santiago.

For interestng historical sites, you will find them on any camino. The short Salvador, for instance, has the gorgeous pre-romanesque Santa Cristina de Lena about a two minute walk uphill from the camino, but many just walk by. For churches, the Catalán from Llançá to Montserrat was amazing, as is the Castellano-Aragonés. Also lots on the Lana. The Mozárabe and the Levante have tons and tons of castles. Lots of Roman ruins on the Vdlp, some on the Lana too. You may need to take a few detours and do some planning to work them into a walking schedule, but once you settle on a route, it’s just a matter of becoming familiar with the area and checking out what’s nearby.

I think the problem is that there are too many choices, so long as you’re ok with the fact that no matter which camino you walk, you will be walking on the side of a road (most usually on the side of an untraveled road) for a chunk of the time.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Even on the Camino Frances, there are sometime several alternate routes to avoid walking on the road with traffic. You need a good guidebook and be able to walk a few extra Kms over uneven ground.

Sadly, most people just follow the herd and walk alone the road.


-Paul
 
Even on the Camino Frances, there are sometime several alternate routes to avoid walking on the road with traffic. You need a good guidebook and be able to walk a few extra Kms over uneven ground.

Sadly, most people just follow the herd and walk alone the road.


-Paul
Hi Paul. I am hoping to walk the CF in '24. Can you suggest the best resources for these alternative routes? Walking a few extra kms is preferable to the road. I have used Gronze but maybe you have other suggestions. Thanks.
 
Parts of the Via Serrana from La Linea de la Concepcion to Sevilla are very wild and mountainous, the day out of Olvera is walking on an abandoned railway line through 20 tunnels, the amazing historic town of Ronda - it has a bit of everything. Like many other caminos, there is still a fair share of road-walking. Depending on time of year, you might not see another pilgrim.
I read @jungleboy ’s daily posts with gorgeous pictures of this route https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/via-serrana-nov-dec-2022.77740/ . Putting this one on the list ☺️.
 
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If you’re looking for less concrete and more scenery I’d make a plug for the Camino de Madrid(having just finished the Madrid myself). Very little concrete other than the first day leaving Madrid, beautiful churches in Segovia and Wamba, ruins, Roman roads etc, throughout. It’s normally very quiet with only a pilgrim or two here and there. Only 2 weeks walking but you can connect to the Frances or Salvador in Sahagun.
If you want to extend the walk by starting before Madrid, you can also take one of the lesser known routes into Madrid such walking the Ucles or one of the others in reverse.
I’m looking for similar routes like you and will start the Lana this April (which has the option of taking the Ucles into Madrid from Cuenca.)
Ooooh, the Madrid to the Salvador might be just the ticket…🙂
 
I read @jungleboy ’s daily posts with gorgeous pictures of this route (not sure how to link to it).
1) Find it. 2) Click on the number between the poster's name and the post (for examples, I quoted your post that had the number #21 and this is #24). 3) Copy the URL that your browser shows. 4) Paste the URL into your post.

The URL of your post #21 will look like this in a post:

If you want to get fancy you can highlight some text and then click the little icon that looks like two links of a chain and then type or paste the URL into the pop-up. Example: Go to post #21 above.
 
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As you can see from my profile, I've done a number of Caminos, and almost all of them involve road-walking-- the Francese perhaps least of all. Caminos were intended to go from village to village and, since the 1950s, most of these paths or country roads have been paved. If you really really want to skip asphalt, the Camino Francese has got the greatest proportion gravelled. As another poster noted, walking the Camino is not a wilderness experience-- among its great virtues is an experience en profondeur of Spain (and France and Portugal) in a way unimaginable to most travellers.

While the above posters' recommendations are all worth looking at, I would also recommend the Camino Catalan from Huesca to San Juan de Pena, and through along the Aragonese to Puenta la Reina. The Castle of Loarre is remarkable (it features in the film Gates of Heaven) & San Juan de la Pena is easily among my top ten-ever travel experiences. The latter is a time machine from a thousand years ago.

That having been said, I think that you will find the Vadiniense (from San Vicente de la Barrquera to Mansilla) might be the best for splendid and breathtaking wildness-- it is rarely traversed by pilgrims and support sparse, so plan your route carefully (note well that some of the passes are dangerous in wintertime so Pay Attention to what the locals or the Guardia tell you)--San Miguel de Escalada north of Mansilla is worth five days of lectures in showing you Visigothic Christianity.

The Castellano Aragonese has some incredible stretches, especially on the stage from Gallur to Soria, and toward Santo Domingo de Silos, and you will find them unforgettable. This is a Spain rarely encountered.
 
I read @jungleboy ’s daily posts with gorgeous pictures of this route (not sure how to link to it). Putting this one on the list ☺️.
Would 100% recomend this route if you want to be in the mountains and solo. After talking to the locals at several points this camino would be amazing during Spring.

I really need to develop the film from the trip! Happy Camino Hunting. also do you know about waymarked trails?


May help in planning routes.
 
VdlP or Mozarabe but not in the Summer

Madrid or Madrid-San Salvador or Madrid- San Salvador- Primitivo

Vasco or Tunnel route through Basque Country

Norte if you like the sea but many think there is to much road walking, mostly rural roads and lots of variants.

What time of year are you walking? How long do you have?

Ultreya
 
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Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
1) Find it. 2) Click on the number between the poster's name and the post (for examples, I quoted your post that had the number #21 and this is #24). 3) Copy the URL that your browser shows. 4) Paste the URL into your post.

The URL of your post #21 will look like this in a post:

If you want to get fancy you can highlight some text and then click the little icon that looks like two links of a chain and then type or paste the URL into the pop-up. Example: Go to post #21 above.
Gracias!! I edited my response to add the link.
 
VdlP or Mozarabe but not in the Summer

Madrid or Madrid-San Salvador or Madrid- San Salvador- Primitivo

Vasco or Tunnel route through Basque Country

Norte if you like the sea but many think there is to much road walking, mostly rural roads and lot of variants.

What time of year are you walking? How long do you have?

Ultreya
I don’t have a plan for time of year yet. I have to fit it in between work travel and family obligations, so maybe Madrid-Salvador-Primitivo in 2025.
 
Hi Paul. I am hoping to walk the CF in '24. Can you suggest the best resources for these alternative routes? Walking a few extra kms is preferable to the road. I have used Gronze but maybe you have other suggestions. Thanks.
I'll jump in here: The one alternative i know that is not on Gronze is the Dragonte route from Villafranca del Bierzo to Las Herrerias. Likely the most remote/untravelled of the alternatives. It does involve a fair bit of paved roads, but also some pretty wild dirt trails. However, it likely is the hardest section that one can walk on the Camino Frances due to its extreme elevation profile.
So if you are well into the Frances and find yourself looking back on the first day in the Pyrenees with fond memories of a beautiful mountain walk, i suggest you look it up. I found it a very rewarding experience, but it sure was exhausting. (And if you do it, consider pre booking in Las Herrerias. We didnt find a bed and had to continue uphill to La Faba. My Log says we walked 30,5km this day, 1520m uphill and 1130m downhill. )
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I'll jump in here: The one alternative i know that is not on Gronze is the Dragonte route from Villafranca del Bierzo to Las Herrerias. Likely the most remote/untravelled of the alternatives. It does involve a fair bit of paved roads, but also some pretty wild dirt trails. However, it likely is the hardest section that one can walk on the Camino Frances due to its extreme elevation profile.
So if you are well into the Frances and find yourself looking back on the first day in the Pyrenees with fond memories of a beautiful mountain walk, i suggest you look it up. I found it a very rewarding experience, but it sure was exhausting. (And if you do it, consider pre booking in Las Herrerias. We didnt find a bed and had to continue uphill to La Faba. My Log says we walked 30,5km this day, 1520m uphill and 1130m downhill. )
Thank you very much.
 
Hi Paul. I am hoping to walk the CF in '24. Can you suggest the best resources for these alternative routes? Walking a few extra kms is preferable to the road. I have used Gronze but maybe you have other suggestions. Thanks.

The Briarly guidebook includes most of the alternate trails. You might check a few other guidebooks, too.

The only alternate path I traveled not in my edition of the Briarley guidebook was the path into Burgos to avoid the industrial zone. I found this documented in this forum.

Alternate paths are marked, just not a well as the main Camino path. You need to be more observant for markers.

Road walking is unavoidable in some place, but you can minimize it by choosing the alternate paths when available.

Always know where you are going and don't just follow the herd!


-Paul
 
Even on the Camino Frances, there are sometime several alternate routes to avoid walking on the road with traffic. You need a good guidebook and be able to walk a few extra Kms over uneven ground.

Sadly, most people just follow the herd and walk alone the road.


-Paul
I wouldn't say there's anything sad about it. I think that it's because simply most people don't walk the Camino as a wilderness/wild/traditional backpacking experience. They walk it for other reasons. I've done my share of real backpacking and time in the wilderness and love it, but I don't walk the Camino to experience that and 90% of the time I am part of "the herd" and I like being part of it. Mooooo......🐄😆
 
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I'm planning to walk from Alicante via the Camino Sureste beginning in February or March after a stay in Alicante to escape our winter here in Maine, USA. I'm guessing that since it is quite a distance, lots of it will be off pavement. Guess I'll find out since I can't find any guidebook(s) still in print.
 
Ooooh, the Madrid to the Salvador might be just the ticket
I think this is a great combo (it would be even better to add on the Primitivo if you have time). I think it’s right up there with another great combo —the Olvidado from Bilbao to Ponferrada, followed by the Invierno.

Time of year might be relevant because the Madrid can be very hot in summer. But I think you’ll love it. What month are you thinking of starting, @sarahchicago?
 
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I think this is a great combo (it would be even better to add on the Primitivo if you have time). I think it’s right up there with another great combo —the Olvidado from Bilbao to Ponferrada, followed by the Invierno.

Time of year might be relevant because the Madrid can be very hot in summer. But I think you’ll love it. What month are you thinking of starting, @sarahchicago?
Based on the great info and advice here, I’ll probably go in late spring (April-May) and if I can swing the time off from work, I’d definitely like to add on the Primitivo. I can’t do it in 2024, though. So, will have fun planning for 2025 ☺️.
 
Camino Mozarabe from Almeria to Granada and the Camino Aragones from Col de Somport both have very little road walking. (And very few pilgrims.) Buen Camino
Would you recommend this for an early spring camino (mid-Feb to March). I'll need to search on Bronze and see that enough albergues will be open.

Oops, just seen your last post, so yes, it looks like a good time to go. I'm wanting to avoid the summer heat but have a little warmth (escaping from cool, wet Normandy).
 
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.
Camino Salvador is a personal favorite. It starts in Leon and then ends in Oviedo. (Many pilgrims then continue with the Camino Primitivo) This Camino is more mountainous but take about 5-7 days. It was mostly dirt and the mountains ascend and descend more smoothly than many mountain hikes. It’s well marked and many get a certificate in Oviedo upon completing it. You can get the Salvador credential to be stamped from different places in Leon. The infrastructure is there but there are a few days with great distances between towns.
 

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The infrastructure is there but there are a few days with great distances between towns.
I guess it depends on how many days you take to walk it. I did it in 6 days this summer, with a stop in Bendueños (highly recommended!) and didn't find any days with notably great distances.

But some days you will want to phone ahead to ensure there is food and a bed waiting for you. Not because the route is so busy but because it isn't necessarily busy enough for restaurants or hospitaler@s to be preparing meals for unexpected guests and you want the albergue to be ready for you.
 
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The infrastructure is there but there are a few days with great distances between towns.
I disagree with that comment — Ender’s guide has many ways to break up the distances, with the longest walk being 9 days! That’s not even 15 km a day. And this guide was written before the albergue in Llanos de Somerón was up and running.

I think that most of us who look back on our walks on the Salvador remember the mountain trails and spectacular views, but there is a lot of asphalt from Mieres to Oviedo, and a fair amount on the walking/bike path into Mieres. It‘s all part of the package, and I love the Salvador, but I think those who are considering it as a “mountain hike” should be aware that there is a lot of road walking after those mountain stages.
 
I think that most of us who look back on our walks on the Salvador remember the mountain trails and spectacular views, but there is a lot of asphalt from Mieres to Oviedo, and a fair amount on the walking/bike path into Mieres. It‘s all part of the package, and I love the Salvador, but I think those who are considering it as a “mountain hike” should be aware that there is a lot of road walking after those mountain stages.
That's true for me too - my fondest memories are of the mountain trails and spectacular views and a blissful evening at Benduenos. After the latter stages of the walk into Mieres, I was really not looking forward to continuing the road walking from Mieres to Oviedo. It is all part of the package. But we had come to the Salvador from the Madrid/Frances - and did not have much time. We had the choice of walking that stage or spending the time in Oviedo, a town we love. We decided to take a morning bus from Mieres to Oviedo. I know it's anathema to some to do this, unless injured, but we did not regret our decision - and relished every moment in Oviedo.
 
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I disagree with that comment — Ender’s guide has many ways to break up the distances, with the longest walk being 9 days! That’s not even 15 km a day. And this guide was written before the albergue in Llanos de Somerón was up and running.

I think that most of us who look back on our walks on the Salvador remember the mountain trails and spectacular views, but there is a lot of asphalt from Mieres to Oviedo, and a fair amount on the walking/bike path into Mieres. It‘s all part of the package, and I love the Salvador, but I think those who are considering it as a “mountain hike” should be aware that there is a lot of road walking after those mountain stages.
Yeah I’ve heard that too and was able to follow that plan mostly except for one day. But the 14-15 ks on certain days felt like 25-30 ks on the Frances. I am not a serious mountain hiker though so if you’re used to mountains it doesn’t apply.
 
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Yeah I’ve heard that too and was able to follow that plan mostly except for one day. But the 14-15 ks on certain days felt like 25-30 ks on the Frances. I am not a serious mountain hiker though so if you’re used to mountains it doesn’t apply.
And if you enjoy long stages and the many ups and downs then it can also be easily done in 4 days. I blame Laurie on giving me that idea and followed her stage recommendations 😉
 
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.
Or for something still with the pilgrimage theme but gives you much less road walking is the Via Podiensis in France.
 
I’m hoping that the Mozarabe from Almeria is going to be ‘a path less traveled’ as that’s our next planned route for February/March ‘24.
The Mozarabe does fit this description although (as already stated) "wild" might mean different things to different people. The stretch between Almeria and Granada where you skirt around the Sierra Nevada mountains was, for me, the most magical part. Attached are several photos I made during my walk in March of 2022 to give you a sense of the scale and beauty of this particular route.

All photos are © Bob Loudon.
 

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The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Hey!
I guess I'm equating "wild" with more isolated, rural, and rustic routes, having the desire for more natural paths than paved roads. I walked the Madrid in 2019 (in August, I wouldn't recommend that part), it was solitary and beautiful. I found it challenging (not always a lot of food and water), but always a place to sleep and the people were very friendly. I just finished the Camino Sanabres (September 2023). It has some paved roads (a couple of larger towns and one small City), but is also rural, quiet, and a little more obscure than I anticipated. Both the ones I've mentioned do not typically have many Pilgrims on them, and the services are sketchy at times. If you are looking for comradery, or an abundance of services, these two may not fit the bill. Also, I would have benefited greatly on both of those Caminos if my ability to speak Spanish was more conversational. If you can speak and understand Spanish fluently, these two would be fantastic. If you take the Sanabres, start in Zamora (short train from Madrid), and walk to La Granja (where it starts officially). Also, stay in Rionegro del Puente, so as not to miss "Me Gusta Comer", a ridiculously delicious and complex dining experience IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (2 closed bars, 1 market-2 kilometers away, and breakfast is out of a vending machine), what is that Chef doing there!? The Madrid is almost worth doing just to get to Segovia alone. Both of these Caminos have their charms, but with MUCH wonderful nothingness in between. Peace.
Buen Camino, Bob

IMG_20230914_082618.jpgIMG_20230905_092310.jpgIMG_20230905_121324.jpgMadrid.jpg
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
The Appalachian Trail is very crowded especially at the start in Georgia.

Other great roadless trails, but sometimes with other hikers, are the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainer, the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, and rim to rim in the Grand Canyon.

Three National Scenic Trails without a lot of other backpackers are the Continent Divide Trail, the Arizona Trail, and the Pacific Northwest Trail.

The Via Tolosana—about 800 kilometers from Arles, France, to Spain—has few pèlerins with some road walking.
 
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.m
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.
I’ve walked a few caminos and just finished the Camino de Invierno. I had days without seeing anyone (with locals or pilgrims), some pretty deserted areas. Of the C Frances, Norte, Ingles, Portuguese Central, El Salvador and Primitivo: the INVIERNO was the wildest.
 
Between Almeria and Granada in early May I met only 9 pilgrims over 8 days. The scenery was superb and the walking surfaces (outside the towns) were varied and interesting. Steep, even difficult at times, this route gave me the most intense personal joy of all my paths so far. Mozarabe was warm but not hot, although I suspect that Summer walking might be challenging.
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.
Camino del Ebro is certainly out-of-the-way and is one of the least-traveled routes. However, there is not much in the way of accommodation on the small part that I walked several years ago.

https://www.gronze.com/camino-ebro
 
When my wife and I walked the Sureste from Alicante to Benavente in the winter of 2018/2019 it was deserted and beautiful. From memory, only 40 -50 pilgrims walked it in the 2018 calendar year. We then backtracked from Benavente to Zamora on the VDLP and took the Portuguese variant of the VDLP from Zamora to Braganca in Portugal and then back into Spain at Verin. That was also beautifully quiet and getting closer to "wilder". Both the Sureste and Portuguese variant were very rural routes but they still entailed some road walking.
 
Every route has its joys and every pilgrimage its revelations. I’d love to read opinions and experiences of routes that are more rustic or out-of-the-way than the most-traveled routes (i.e. the frances and the portugues, both of which I have walked, and the norte, which I have not). I’m most interested in routes in Spain, but happy to read of routes toward SdC that start farther afield. The less asphalt and more dirt paths, the better. Special churches and historical ruins much appreciated.
I would recommend the following... walked both in 2023
1. Mozarabe from Almaria ~650km
- Roman Ruins in Merida, Arabic influences especially in Granada and Cordoba
- Sierra Nevada Mountains
- some remote sections, not too many people but good facilities
- some great off road walking
2. Geira de Arriros from Braga to SdC
- the best way to get to SdC!, across remote stretches in the mountains in Portugal and Spain
- almost no-one walks it!!
- follows an ancient Roman Toad and then the path of wind merchants
Enjoy! Mick
 
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I would recommend the following... walked both in 2023
1. Mozarabe from Almaria ~650km
- Roman Ruins in Merida, Arabic influences especially in Granada and Cordoba
- Sierra Nevada Mountains
- some remote sections, not too many people but good facilities
- some great off road walking
2. Geira de Arriros from Braga to SdC
- the best way to get to SdC!, across remote stretches in the mountains in Portugal and Spain
- almost no-one walks it!!
- follows an ancient Roman Toad and then the path of wind merchants
Enjoy! Mick
Thank you, this sounds amazing!
(I’m intrigued by following Roman Toads and wind merchants but will be satisfied with getting to SdC following yellow arrows- ribbit )
 
The Appalachian Trail is very crowded especially at the start in Georgia.

Other great roadless trails, but sometimes with other hikers, are the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainer, the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, and rim to rim in the Grand Canyon.

Three National Scenic Trails without a lot of other backpackers are the Continent Divide Trail, the Arizona Trail, and the Pacific Northwest Trail.

The Via Tolosana—about 800 kilometers from Arles, France, to Spain—has few pèlerins with some road walking.
Thank you for this list- I’ve walked at least parts of a few of these (I’m an Arizonan despite my moniker and current abode, and have walked the R2R and parts of the Az trail and the continental divide in Colorado). I’m planning for pilgrimages rather than hikes now, thus my post title. I find revelation and insight are easier to access in more rustic/rural environments.
 
I agree completely with @Quietways. I have walked some of the more remote camino routes, but each one comes with its fair share of road walking. The Salvador has a lot of asphalt into Mieres and from Mieres into Oviedo, but that road walking is combined with a long stretch of mountain glory from Buiza to Pajares and beyond. The Olvidado has some of the most beautiful mountain scenery I’ve seen on a camino, and more days of beautiful mountain scenery than any other camino I’ve walked, but right after one of those jaw-dropping stages from Boñar, you have 6-8 long hard slogging kms on the side of the road. The Baztán has some glorious high hill walking, but there are stretches of road walking in between. As Quietways says, that just inevitably comes with walking village to village. “Proper” thru-hiking trails with no roads are likely to require tents/huts and way fewer services.

Untraveled caminos don’t necessarily come with less road walking (e.g., Invierno, very untraveled, lots of roads). Lots of dirt paths on a camino doesn’t mean remote (e.g., Madrid, least road walking of any camino I’ve walked, but only one “remote” day from Cercedilla). Remote doesn’t mean no road walking (e.g., Olvidado or Salvador). But that’s what the camino is — going from whatever Point A you choose to the same Point B, Santiago.

For interestng historical sites, you will find them on any camino. The short Salvador, for instance, has the gorgeeous pre-romanesque Santa Cristina de Lena about a two minute walk uphill from the camino, but many just walk by. For churches, the Catalán from Llançá to Montserrat was amazing, as is the Castellano-Aragonés. Also lots on the Lana. The Mozárabe and the Levante have tons and tons of castles. Lots of Roman ruins on the Vdlp, some on the Lana too. You may need to take a few detours and do some planning to work them into a walking schedule, but once you settle on a route, it’s just a matter of becoming familiar with the area and checking out what’s nearby.

I think the problem is that there are too many choices, so long as you’re ok with the fact that no matter which camino you walk, you will be walking on the side of a road (most usually on the side of an untraveled road) for a chunk of the time.
Can anyone compare ALL the Caminos mentioned above to the Ingles.? It is the only one I have walked thus far ( am only 79 y/o so far)....It is only 115 Km., but lots of good mountain walking.

I
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Can anyone compare ALL the Caminos mentioned above to the Ingles.? It is the only one I have walked thus far ( am only 79 y/o so far)....It is only 115 Km., but lots of good mountain walking.

I
"mountain walking" on the Ingles? The route doesn't get much above 400 metres. I've walked the Ingles twice and found some fairly stiff hills like the climb out of Pontedeume but nothing I would describe as mountains. Most of the main Camino routes have sections far higher and with more difficult walking underfoot than the Ingles which is one of the least demanding paths.
 
Camino de Madrid on the Roman road over the pass at Fuenfria, the highest point on any Spanish Camino at 1796 meters. Maybe the mountain walk you’re looking for?
 

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"mountain walking" on the Ingles? The route doesn't get much above 400 metres. I've walked the Ingles twice and found some fairly stiff hills like the climb out of Pontedeume but nothing I would describe as mountains. Most of the main Camino routes have sections far higher and with more difficult walking underfoot than the Ingles which is one of the least demanding paths.
One man’s hill is another man’s mountain. In the flatlands of Texas 400 metres is the Himalayas.
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
Ah !! Remembered it.

There's an unofficial Camino route up on the crests and summits of the Cantabrian mountains, set down originally by some American thru-hikers in the 1990s -- I met one of them at the time.

Now that's wilderness rather than rural -- but thing is, rural Spain is frequently paved.
 
One man’s hill is another man’s mountain. In the flatlands of Texas 400 metres is the Himalayas.
True. Perceptions of these things are relative. I was born and raised within sight of the Ochil Hills in central Scotland. Modest in height by Scottish standards - they only reach 721m - but punching above their weight visually as they rise as an steep escarpment from a flood plain only 10m above sea level. A good stiff test of the legs and lungs but no one local would ever refer to them as "mountains" - they were simply "the hills" or "the Ochils". The highest point in the UK is Ben Nevis which is 1,345m. People are rightly urged to treat it with respect and be well prepared when walking to the summit. Getting there is regarded as something of an achievement. But even Ben Nevis is a pimple by European mountain standards. Just over a week ago I was walking the Camino route on Gran Canaria and crossed over a mountain pass 400m higher than the summit of Ben Nevis only to find young children wandering about hand-in-hand with their parents on a Saturday morning stroll! :) @PProffitt asked for comparisons between the Camino Ingles and other routes being mentioned in the thread. If he/she considers the Ingles to be "mountain walking" then routes such as the Primitivo, the Sanabres, the Salvador or even the Camino Frances are a far more substantial challenge in that respect.

ochils-snow.jpg
 
True. Perceptions of these things are relative. I was born and raised within sight of the Ochil Hills in central Scotland. Modest in height by Scottish standards - they only reach 721m - but punching above their weight visually as they rise as an steep escarpment from a flood plain only 10m above sea level. A good stiff test of the legs and lungs but no one local would ever refer to them as "mountains" - they were simply "the hills" or "the Ochils". The highest point in the UK is Ben Nevis which is 1,345m. People are rightly urged to treat it with respect and be well prepared when walking to the summit. Getting there is regarded as something of an achievement. But even Ben Nevis is a pimple by European mountain standards. Just over a week ago I was walking the Camino route on Gran Canaria and crossed over a mountain pass 400m higher than the summit of Ben Nevis only to find young children wandering about hand-in-hand with their parents on a Saturday morning stroll! :) @PProffitt asked for comparisons between the Camino Ingles and other routes being mentioned in the thread. If he/she considers the Ingles to be "mountain walking" then routes such as the Primitivo, the Sanabres, the Salvador or even the Camino Frances are a far more substantial challenge in that respect.

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Thank you.....I used "mountain walking " out of context. Would you agree that '' hills" would be more appropriate when describing the Ingles.???
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
One man’s hill is another man’s mountain. In the flatlands of Texas 400 metres is the Himalayas.
Totally agree....Have come to realize that i used " mountain walking" out of context when describing the elevations of the Ingles........sorry.......ps it was my first Camino.....
 
Thank you.....I used "mountain walking " out of context. Would you agree that '' hills" would be more appropriate when describing the Ingles.???
I would. There are definitely steep hills along the way on the Ingles but most of the route is on very gently undulating terrain. It really does not compare with the long steep ascents and descents on routes like the Primitivo or the Frances where the highest points are more than three times the elevation of the highest points of the Ingles.
 
I would. There are definitely steep hills along the way on the Ingles but most of the route is on very gently undulating terrain. It really does not compare with the long steep ascents and descents on routes like the Primitivo or the Frances where the highest points are more than three times the elevation of the highest points of the Ingles.
Point taken.....Looking forward to walking the NORTE........
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Thank you.....I used "mountain walking " out of context. Would you agree that '' hills" would be more appropriate when describing the Ingles.???
Yes, I would. Walked both the Inglés and the Primitivo this year, a couple of steep hills on the Inglés but nothing more. Loved it. But the Primitivo is better, higher, and wilder
Ok, @Bradypus has just made exactly the same point whilst I was typing
 
Camino de Madrid on the Roman road over the pass at Fuenfria, the highest point on any Spanish Camino at 1796 meters. Maybe the mountain walk you’re looking for?
YES, That would WELL qualify......thank you...
 
When you walk the Primitivo schedule a night in Bodenaya. The albergue used to be called "Alex's" but may have a new name. By any name, delightful. Buen Camino
 
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For me, it isn't about the altitude the mountain or hill reaches on a Camino (unless it goes over a snow line) so much as how much altitude is gained on the climb or how steep the climb is. If the hill only reaches 800 m but you start at sea level, that's more than if it goes up to 1800 m but you start the climb from 1300 m. It isn't like we are in the Himalayas and reaching altitudes where the altitude itself makes a difference.
 
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Check out the Camino Primitivo. (The original Camino, the legendary one that began it all!!)
Starting in Oviedo, mostly mountain paths to Lugo and beyond, views are spectacular if the weather is kind, It is a challenging walk with options that are really wild so you will need to carry provisions.....
Agree
 
Camino de Madrid on the Roman road over the pass at Fuenfria, the highest point on any Spanish Camino at 1796 meters. Maybe the mountain walk you’re looking for?

Camino de Madrid does not have the highest point in Spain… :)

The nearby Camino Complutense has a higher pass at Puerto del Reventon (2039m). I haven’t walked yet, I’ve almost got over there a few times. It will happen this year or next. :)

Oh - and for truly wild/less travelled routes, bring lots of money due to lack of pilgrim accommodations. Or carry a tent / sleep under church doorway overhangs. 😎

 
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Camino de Madrid does not have the highest point in Spain… :)

The nearby Camino Complutense has a higher pass at Puerto del Reventon (2039m). I haven’t walked yet, I’ve almost got over there a few times. It will happen this year or next. :)

Oh - and for truly wild/less travelled routes, bring lots of money due to lack of pilgrim accommodations. Or carry a tent / sleep under church doorway overhangs. 😎

I disagree with the statement there is not reasonable accommodation on this route. It did get sketchy during Covid but otherwise I have found accommodation here adequate w/o sleeping in doorway overhangs.
 
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I disagree with the statement there is not reasonable accommodation on this route. It did get sketchy during Covid but otherwise I have found accommodation here adequate w/o sleeping in doorway overhangs.

Good to know for the Camino Complutense (as I haven't walked it yet!).
My second comment is unrelated to the Complutense -- directed to other lesser know routes I've walked. Sorry for the confusion.

For example the Camino Lebaniego Castellano from Palencia had a serious lack of accommodation options. I had a few nights outdoors. :) Many indoor options would have involved pricey taxi rides to tourist hotels.
 

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Camino de Madrid does not have the highest point in Spain… :)

The nearby Camino Complutense has a higher pass at Puerto del Reventon (2039m). I haven’t walked yet, I’ve almost got over there a few times. It will happen this year or next. :)

Oh - and for truly wild/less travelled routes, bring lots of money due to lack of pilgrim accommodations. Or carry a tent / sleep under church doorway overhangs. 😎

I have to admit that I've been one to share that the Fuenfria pass is the highest on a Spanish Camino, which I read in one of the guides when walking the Madrid this year. Perhaps the guide was written before the Complutense was accepted as an official Camino route.
 

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