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Which route to choose, from so many good options?

Which route to choose?

  • Baztan + 4 days of Frances

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Vasco del Interior

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Invierno

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • Other - please explain in thread

    Votes: 2 40.0%

  • Total voters
    5
2020 Camino Guides

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
In October I hope to walk with my daughters (age 31 and 33) for a short camino. They both have other plans afterward, so we are thinking about 10-12 days of walking. I'm looking forward to introducing them to long-distance walking and to the Camino. For various reasons, we are focused on the northern part of Spain.

I'd like to see a few pilgrims en route, to give them a taste of the Camino culture. However, I don't think this is the time to do the Camino Frances - partly because we are walking 3 together and with the shorter time, the same camaraderie and sense of purpose won't result. My daughters are both fit - they would like a good mountain or two to climb, but I am not so sure about myself!

So here I am, asking the impossible question - which route do you recommend (assuming you have some experience on some of these options):
  1. Camino Baztan - Bayonne to Pamplona (5 or 6 days) and then do perhaps 4 days further to Logroño to experience the Frances.
  2. Vasco del Interior - Irun to Sto Domingo (about 10 days).
  3. Invierno - Ponferrado to Santiago. It might be a bit long, but there are ways to save a day or 2 en route. This is perhaps less convenient for pre/post-camino transportation but arriving in Santiago would be bonus.
I started favouring the Baztan when @laineylainey followed the Baztan 5. Then when @VNwalking and @SabineP walked the Vasco, I decided THAT was the one. Now @peregrina2000 is on the Invierno and extolling its virtues. I am so easily led astray! What to do?
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
I would suggest the Vasco Interior. Especially when your children are fit and able it will be not so much of a challenge. The people are so friendly, the food is so much better than on the Frances. And the albergues or pensiones are of a very high quality.
And Irun is easy to reach. Did you consider flying into Paris and then take a high speed train to Irun. Very comfortable.

Happy prepping!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Perhaps the Aragones instead? Scenery, trail vs road options, history, infrastructure, likely to be other pilgrims but not so many to be a problem.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
A very happy dilemma indeed, with lots of wonderful options.

Just to make things even more complicated ........if you can stretch it to 12 walking days, the Primitivo might also be worth considering. It would involve a couple of long days, but it's very doable for fit walkers. You'd definitely get the Camino culture and camaraderie, as well as the experience of arriving in Santiago.

Good luck with the deliberations!
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
I have not walked the three options you mentioned, but as you invite us to give more options ... well you kinow there is a possibility the decision making process gets more complicated.:)

So why not walk any 12 days on the Norte ? Start in Irun, if your daughters are really keen on some climbing.
Happy planning !
 
I am also looking for a 10 day route which will be added to other Europe travel plans. Thinking of doing the Variante Espiritual from Pontevedra to Santiago and then on to Muxia and Finnesterre, through Lires. We can then fly in and out of Santiago, it’s a quick train to Pontevedra. Looks like a decent climb to Armenteira, but might not be enough challenge for your daughters.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I like @Nuala’s idea the best. I think 12 days are enough for Primitivo. It’s such a beautiful camino. I once walked it in late September-early October and it was fabulous.

But here are some scattered comments on the other options you asked about.

Pilgrims—You are likely to see few to none on all of the options, except for the post-Baztan days on the Francés.

Mountains —the Vasco Interior has fabulous mountain alternatives. Probably the best of any camino I’ve walked. Some days are tough but it’s beautiful.

I think that for first timers, arriving in Santiago is a real plus. Otherwise it’s just a nice long hike, nothing wrong with that of course. Last ten to twelve days on Sanabres or Norte maybe?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Thanks for all the suggestions!
Perhaps the Aragones instead?
I like that idea a lot, but transport to the start would require some planning and time.
.if you can stretch it to 12 walking days, the Primitivo
I think 12 days are enough for Primitivo.
OK, I will study the spreadsheet, so see how to fit it into 12 days, with some transport assistance because I like to plan for modest daily distances.
12 days on the Norte ?
Yes, I'll consider that some more, but I am not as keen about climbing as my daughters are!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I think we are settling on the Vasco del Interior. It is just the right length, reportedly a great walk, and the transport to and from is fairly uncomplicated for us. We'll fly to Biarritz. I think the Primitivo would be a bit rushed - longer walking, longer transport, temptation to hang around Santiago, etc.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Exciting @CCleary, whatever route you choose it will be a wonderful experience to share with your daughters.
Thanks Maggie - It will be different from a camino that I go on my own, and I think this route will be good for the different type of camino. I am looking foward to it!

I see that you accidentally tagged a New Member named @CCleary. Welcome to that person from Dublin!
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
Thanks for all the suggestions!

I like that idea a lot, but transport to the start would require some planning and time.


OK, I will study the spreadsheet, so see how to fit it into 12 days, with some transport assistance because I like to plan for modest daily distances.

Yes, I'll consider that some more, but I am not as keen about climbing as my daughters are!
Re: the Aragones, if you start in Oloron you get to enjoy that beautiful walk up into the Pyrenees. It will provide sufficient aerobic exercise, without doubt. Oloron may be easier to get to than Somport itself, depending on where you are coming from, of course!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I agree with JillGat. Not in your original list of options, and your point of arrival is key as well, given your departure point...you hail from a beautiful part of the North American continent.
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
Depending on your daily distances, you could also consider walking the Ingles in 5 days (if it's important: qualifying for a Compostela) and then continue to Finisterre and/or Muxia in 4-5 days.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
Porto to Santiago is a great walk with numerous options. It wasn't too busy in May.
Baztan was lovely but few pilgrims around late last September. Some steep climbs. My 36 yr old loved it.
 

Krista Rogman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016), Camino Portugues (2017)
In October I hope to walk with my daughters (age 31 and 33) for a short camino. They both have other plans afterward, so we are thinking about 10-12 days of walking. I'm looking forward to introducing them to long-distance walking and to the Camino. For various reasons, we are focused on the northern part of Spain.

I'd like to see a few pilgrims en route, to give them a taste of the Camino culture. However, I don't think this is the time to do the Camino Frances - partly because we are walking 3 together and with the shorter time, the same camaraderie and sense of purpose won't result. My daughters are both fit - they would like a good mountain or two to climb, but I am not so sure about myself!

So here I am, asking the impossible question - which route do you recommend (assuming you have some experience on some of these options):
  1. Camino Baztan - Bayonne to Pamplona (5 or 6 days) and then do perhaps 4 days further to Logroño to experience the Frances.
  2. Vasco del Interior - Irun to Sto Domingo (about 10 days).
  3. Invierno - Ponferrado to Santiago. It might be a bit long, but there are ways to save a day or 2 en route. This is perhaps less convenient for pre/post-camino transportation but arriving in Santiago would be bonus.
I started favouring the Baztan when @laineylainey followed the Baztan 5. Then when @VNwalking and @SabineP walked the Vasco, I decided THAT was the one. Now @peregrina2000 is on the Invierno and extolling its virtues. I am so easily led astray! What to do?

I walked the Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago. It is 150 miles and took me 12 days with a day off in Tui. I met people who did that walk in 6 days. This route is the second most walked camino and gives lots of opportunity to walk alone or with others. Out of Punta de Lima is a hill with a nice elevation gain of 1200 feet. At age 67 y/o I was able to get from the albergue to the summit in about 6 hours.
If you are interested in this route and need to do it in 10 days just take a train to Barceloes and start from there.

Just know that what ever you decide to do be open to the experiences which come up.
Buen Camino.
 

Owensr23

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
9/2016 Frances
5/2018 Portugues
I second the Porto suggestion. It was fabulous and the food was great. We did in 11days with extra days in Santiago.

In 2016 we did the CF from Leon and that was 12 days, but a harder walk with a couple big climbs,

 

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 just found this, and it looks like you're leaning to the Vasco.
So my opinion for what it's worth, having walked all 3 of your possibilities:
(People suggesting the Portugues are opining about your specific question in a vacuum, not having walked either the Invierno or the Vasco. If they had, I bet their suggestions would be different.)

The Baztan is super, but awfully short...and then you're on the Frances...so no.
After that...Geeze, @C clearly, do I have to choose?? This is torture.

Invierno-Vasco-Invierno-Vasco-Invierno-Vasco...
Both are glorious.
Both have very pilgrim-friendly people.
Both are quiet, without much pilgrim traffic (unfortunately that means that neither have much albergue infrastructure).
Both have nice stretches of Roman/Medieval road.
But they feel very different. Basque country/the vast Alava Plain/Rioja versus Bierzo/Rio Sil Rio Mino/Galicia (I know, I know - once out of As Medulas, it's all Galicia, but the riverine part is very different from the rest...)

Invierno
Pro:
Stunning scenery, historically and culturally really interesting: two special world-heritage sites on one walk (As Medulas and Ribeira Sacra), as well as several accessible pre-Roman castros.
Not a huge amount of walking in built-up areas.
A variety of microclimates, so a variety of habtats you're walking through.
Monforte is really nice...and not too big.
The walk ends in Santiago, after joining the Sanabres - and the entry to the city is so nice.
Every day was wonderful walking; even the 6km 'slog' coming down Monte Faro has very nice views. And those rivers!
Ribeira Sacra wine, if that's your thing. The Romans started that and it's still going. The terracing has to be seen to be believed.
XII churches anyone?

Con:
It would be OK to do this in 12 days, but I think for new distance walkers (unless they're really fit) 10 would be 'interesting.'
There's a lot of up and down, from beginning to end. But except for the climb to the Castilo Coronatel on the first day, it wasn't too intense, though.
More stretches with no services than the Vasco.
If anyone is vegetarian, the food has it's uninspiring moments - tasty vegetarian food is more patchy than on the Vasco

Vasco (though I can't speak about the last stages to Haro as I walked the Via de Bayona)
Pro:
That tunnel, and the Roman road going into and out of it. Unique, and just...wow.
Only one really substantial climb, though there are a few smaller ones.
Easily done in 10 days.
You get to go to Vitoria-Gasteiz!
The food in the Basque country and Rioja? Good is an understatement.
Rioja wine, if that's your thing. But the vineyards are not so historically old or mind-bogglingly terraced as on the Invierno.

Con:
A little monotonous once past Salvatierra - rolling plains and big fields. The last part of the stage into Vitoria was just...grf.
Days 2 and 3 (between Hernani and almost to Zegama) were mostly on hard concrete bike paths in an industrial corridor. It is surprisingly nice walking for all that, but still...
It doesn't end in Santiago.
It was less diverse scenery-wise than the Invierno.

Bottom line? Having walked both I liked the Invierno a bit more. Less industry, less pavement, more variety, more history.
But that's nit-picking. Honestly choosing between these two?? You can't go wrong.
And still I have to vote........:confused:
 
Last edited:

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Thanks @VNwalking for such a careful analysis - exactly what I was hoping for when I posted. You confirmed many of my assumptions/conclusions. I think I would pick the Invierno too, for this walk, except for:
  • It would feel a little rushed
  • The start and end points are not as convenient for my daughters
Honestly, though, I think there is also an element of saving the Invierno for a pilgrimage on my own, when I can do it in leisure;)! I probably wouldn't get to the Vasco for a long time, if not for this set of circumstances.

I will continue to look into the details of how to do it in the time available, and I'm happy to have 2 options!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
If it's their first Camino, then I'd say that doing one with an arrival at Santiago is a must.

The best itinerary of your three ideas would be the Invierno, but if you want to have at least some of the camaraderie and Camino spirit at hand for your daughters to experience it's not really a good choice IMO, there's still far too few people who walk it.

I'd guess that the right sort of balance you're looking for would be found in 10 days on the Portugues to Compostela -- though I do like the cut of that Pontevedra-Santiago-Fisterra suggestion.

Quite a few pilgrims on that route but not overbearing, and more experienced ones and so knowing when you guys will need to be left to your own devices -- but not enough of them to constitute an actual crowd as such.
 
Last edited:

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