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Which route SJPDP to Roncesvalles in Heatwave?

2020 Camino Guides

JulietC

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Aug 2018
Hi all

Myself and three friends are flying out from Ireland tomorrow and leaving St Jean Pied de Port for Roncesvalles on Sunday. We have always planned on the Napolean route. With the heatwave and Sunday being forecast for "scorching" and "blazing" sunshine up to near 40° we are wondering if this is still the best route? I think I read somewhere that the Valcarlos route would be more shaded? Any thoughts or advice? We would prefer the more scenic Napolean route but most of all want to be able to finish and keep safe. Thanks.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I walked the Napoleon one year under a blazing hot sky. It was not nice. A flock of Pyrenean vultures was circling overhead. I'm sure they were waiting patiently for a pilgrim meal. Don't let it be you!

The Napoleon is spectacular but I also love the Valcarlos route. It is so pretty. Which ever route you take, make sure you have enough water. I would not be walking at present without a sun umbrella.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
Leave very early in the morning which ever route you take..maybe 4am and wear headlamps/lights so that you can climb the majority of Napoleon route in the dark if you take it!
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Ask the pilgrims office in Saint Jean Pied de Port for advice. Here is the link to the weather forecast that the pilgrims office use: http://www.aucoeurduchemin.org/METEO-682/ . Click on Port de Cize. Col de Bentarte is the (more or less) highest point of the Route Napoleon. You can change the language to English.
 

JulietC

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Aug 2018
Thanks all! Re the sun umbrella - I was thinking of buying trekking poles for the trip to Roncesvalles and I don't have three hands!! Wondering which is most important now. I have a wide rimmed hat.

Re the route we will wait and decide tomorrow when we get there after talking to people and visiting the tourist office.

Thanks for the advice!
 

Kizzycass

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Way (2018) beginning
Hi all

Myself and three friends are flying out from Ireland tomorrow and leaving St Jean Pied de Port for Roncesvalles on Sunday. We have always planned on the Napolean route. With the heatwave and Sunday being forecast for "scorching" and "blazing" sunshine up to near 40° we are wondering if this is still the best route? I think I read somewhere that the Valcarlos route would be more shaded? Any thoughts or advice? We would prefer the more scenic Napolean route but most of all want to be able to finish and keep safe. Thanks.
 

Kizzycass

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Way (2018) beginning
Good Luck! I’m doing this route as well on sunday with my sister and two friends. Maybe see you along the way (if my sister is able to keep up...she’s old)
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
If you decide to take the Valcarlos route
do be aware that from Valcarlos upto Roncesvalles monastery there are no services nor potabile water. Buy any trail snacks that you might need walking when you arrive in Valcarlos. Be prepared!

Good luck and Buen camino!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Thanks all! Re the sun umbrella - I was thinking of buying trekking poles for the trip to Roncesvalles and I don't have three hands!! Wondering which is most important now. I have a wide rimmed hat.

Re the route we will wait and decide tomorrow when we get there after talking to people and visiting the tourist office.

Thanks for the advice!
I think @ivar is selling (at least he was) hand free umbrellas in on-line shop so you won't need three hands :D

If it would be clear sky I'd say go for Napoleon Route because the vistas will be spectacular. But start early, hydrate already before your start (at least 1l of water), stop at Huntto or Orisson somewhere in the shade (the Napoleon Route has little of it), always have enough water, don't drink coffee, have some salty snack (peanuts or potato chips will do or some jamon/prosciutto) and you'll be OK if you are relatively well prepared.

Bon Chemin/Buen Camino!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Also useful to know: sunrise is at 6:58 in SJPP on 8 Aug 2018, so I personally would be on the road by 6:30 at the latest. UV=10, so don't forget to apply sun protection. There's a fountain on the pass but I'm not certain that it is always running. Carrying enough water would be my greatest concern. No thunderstorms forecasted for this area until a few days later.

I always check the local weather forecast one more time in the morning of departure.
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
...No thunderstorms forecasted for this area until a few days later.

I always check the local weather forecast one more time in the morning of departure.
Oh, that should be a splendid day :D
 
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D

Deleted member 39850

Guest
I really don’t know why the Valcarlos has a reputation for crappy scenery. I walked it in 2014, and my sweetheart will be heading out on the VC route tomorrow. It has *mountain goats* for one thing! And gorgeous rock faces, and lovely woods, and a river beside one... and, when I was there, a stream in the forest where it was wonderful to plunge one’s feet.
I recommend it not only because it is more shady in the heat, but because it is pretty, and rather less like a kindergarten conga-line. Also Valcarlos is charming, and has great places to gather snacks (cheeses, and charcuterie, and proper groceries).
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
Thanks all! Re the sun umbrella - I was thinking of buying trekking poles for the trip to Roncesvalles and I don't have three hands!! Wondering which is most important now. I have a wide rimmed hat.

Re the route we will wait and decide tomorrow when we get there after talking to people and visiting the tourist office.

Thanks for the advice!
Most of the hiking-type umbrellas are actually designed to be used hands-free, so you'd be OK with only two hands :)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I really don’t know why the Valcarlos has a reputation for crappy scenery.
I think it's not so much that Valcarlos gets dissed. Rather, that Napoleon gets elevated. One difference between the two trails is the number of mountain tops that you can see on a good day. Some people like to go up a mountain just so that they can see more mountains. :)
 
D

Deleted member 39850

Guest
I think it's not so much that Valcarlos gets dissed. Rather, that Napoleon gets elevated. One difference between the two trails is the number of mountain tops that you can see on a good day. Some people like to go up a mountain just so that they can see more mountains. :)
Yes, perhaps that is it. Nonetheless, I tire of the elevation... though it does leave the VC more restful for a first day.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I walked it in 2014, and my sweetheart will be heading out on the VC route tomorrow.
Buen Camino, Morgan!
(I agree entirely with those who vote for Valcarlos.And FWIIW, besides being beautiful it is the older and more 'authentic' of the two paths.)
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I walked the Napoleon one year under a blazing hot sky. It was not nice. A flock of Pyrenean vultures was circling overhead. I'm sure they were waiting patiently for a pilgrim meal. Don't let it be you!
Exactly my experience on my first Camino :) Not my finest day. As a Scot real blistering sun and heat were a novelty I didn't understand then. A blazing hot day in July. I had not carried enough water with me. The Fuente de Roldan was dry. Headache and nausea and trembling a little with the early stages of heatstroke. I looked up to see two vultures circling directly above me - part of a flock I had been seeing for an hour or so. So I yelled at them: "Bugger off - I'm not dead yet!" :) Crawled into some shade for a few minutes then eventually recovered enough to make it safely down to Roncesvalles.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
@JulietC, if you ever read this, it would be interesting to know what you did in the end and how the day was.

In any case, the heatwave is over for the section SJPP to Roncesvalles, and there is a recent Twitter notice from the Navarra Bomberos (First Responders) that one should pay attention to strong wind gusts with the arrival of the Cierzo, which is, as Wikipedia EN tells me, a strong, dry and usually cold wind that blows from the North or Northwest through the regions of Aragon, La Rioja and Navarra in the Ebro valley in Spain. It takes place when there is an anticyclone in the Bay of Biscay and a low-pressure area in the Mediterranean Sea. It is known since ancient times, and Cato the Elder described it in the 2nd century BC as a wind that fills your mouth and tumbles waggons and armed men.

See also recent newspaper article on Why the North wind is coming and you have to wear a coat in Pamplona. :cool:
 
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JulietC

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Aug 2018
Hi all

Home again after a wonderful trip. We walked from SJPDP to Logrono in seven days.

Re my post above we visited the pilgrim office in SJPDP the evening before setting off and he said the weather would be fine for crossing the Napolean route the next morning as it would be only 21 degrees so that was our decision made. The weather was more like in the high 20's/low 30's (we saw the vultures!!) however it was very doable and we were delighted with our decision.

The next day we made the silly mistake of not leaving Roncesvalles until 9am, lulled into the false sense of security of a shorter day and thinking the weather would be similar and just not thinking. Also the staff in Hotel Roncesvalles told us breakfast only started at 7.30am and check out was at 8.30 leading us into thinking most pilgrims left later. We still didn't cop when the hotel was completely empty when we got up!

The walk to Zubiri was the most difficult day (and we were really only focused on getting day 1 over with, thinking everything else would be easy in comparison). It was a scorcher of a day - 38 degrees. Not pleasant when there was no shade. When we got to our B&B at 4pm our hosts couldn't get the water into us quick enough and they begged us to leave early the next day (we set the alarms for 5am). They told us that pilgrims were collapsing in the heat. Lesson learnt!
 

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