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Which routes to combine?

LizziM

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, July 2015
I'm planning my second camino from mid March until mid April. I have 4 weeks total, which will probably allow about 25 walking days.

I walked the Camino Frances 10 years ago, and skipped the section from Burgos to Leon because I felt a resistance to the meseta. I've wanted to do the Norte since my last Camino, so when I booked my flight, I did so with the intention of walking the Camino del Norte from Irun until I run out of time.

But I'm having doubts. When I walked the Camino Frances, I was healthy, strong and very fit back then, in much better shape than I am now.

As things are now, I'm at the end of an 18 month period of sick leave from work, and almost out of the woods after years of dealing with chronic pain and fatigue. I've been going to physio, and feeling stronger, like my old self again. However, I have doubts about whether it's wise for me to jump right into the Norte route, alone, when I'm not confident that I'm strong enough. I worry about a risk of injury, or if I'll find I just don't have the stamina for steep climbs and descents. I keep picturing heavy rain, and steep, slippery, muddy trails. But is it really that bad in March?

I'm thinking about combining sections of a few different routes. I would love to walk by the ocean, so I'm considering the coastal route from Porto to Santiago. I'm also thinking of returning to the Frances to walk the meseta from Burgos to Leon. It's calling me for some reason.

If I wanted to do a bit of each of these 3 routes, how should I order them? Considering weather, availability of accommodation, and warming up to the routine of walking, what do you think is the best plan?
 
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Just remember that it does take time to travel. I would knock off at least one travel day to get to each of these "pieces".

Where did you stop on the Norte? Can you get back there easily?
It is easiest to get to Burgos by bus from Madrid and the bus station is right downtown near the Camino.
I think it is relatively easy to get to Porto.

Also remember in the middle of your time it will be Easter so lodging and streets may be full during Semana Santa and then clear out again in early April.
 
Just remember that it does take time to travel. I would knock off at least one travel day to get to each of these "pieces".

Where did you stop on the Norte? Can you get back there easily?
It is easiest to get to Burgos by bus from Madrid and the bus station is right downtown near the Camino.
I think it is relatively easy to get to Porto.

Also remember in the middle of your time it will be Easter so lodging and streets may be full during Semana Santa and then clear out again in early April.
I plan to book flights between major cities... Madrid, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Burgos, Leon, Porto, etc.
The flights all seem quite short, and hopefully, timed so not too many days would be lost to travel.
 
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@LizziM sorry for your troubles. I’m just puzzled why you are thinking of setting yourself up for more. Public transport in Spain is amazingly good provided you are planning to go where the public goes. Otherwise the logistics can be challenging.

I’m really glad you feel up to getting back on the road again but please do yourself a favour and pick a road. I’ve no personal experience but many here love the Portuguese routes. Unless you’ve already booked your travel take a look at those and the continuity they offer. If you’re flying into Biarritz or local to the Norte so be it. Walk where you will as you wish. I’d probably look at the Baztan or the Vasco Interior and, yes, I’d walk the Meseta because it is and always will be my favourite bit of northern Spain
 
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I am wondering if you might just consider doing one route as @Tincatinker suggests? Maybe start and Burgos and walk through to Santiago and end at the Muxia to be by the ocean? Or maybe do the Portuguese coastal? Again, I think you will need to plan for that Easter week as things get more lively then. I am not sure of what is open on the Norte until after Easter as many albergues time their opening with that as a beginning of the Camino season.
 
I would also suggest sticking to one route.
And for me, the route almost doesn't matter.
Given x number of days, I would be realistic about the distance I could cover and start that far from Santiago.

I have only walked 4 different routes so far.
But the day I walk a route that I don't enjoy........?
Well, I can't really imagine that.

Which route do you feel drawn to? :)
 
I would also suggest sticking to one route.
And for me, the route almost doesn't matter.
Given x number of days, I would be realistic about the distance I could cover and start that far from Santiago.

I have only walked 4 different routes so far.
But the day I walk a route that I don't enjoy........?
Well, I can't really imagine that.


Which route do you feel drawn to? :)

Having said that.
This is a Pilgrim that loved the Meseta on the Frances.

And even loved that stage to El Cubo on the VdlP, that goes alongside a highway, and past a huge prison and is flat all the way with no intermediate services!

The highway was just on the right.
On the left was a stunning landscape.
The sun was shining.
The birds were chattering.
The track was a dream surface to walk on.
I got to stand on the rail bridge and watch a fast train woosh beneath me.
And I was in Spain!
Walking a Camino.
It was heaven to me........ :)

Where would I rather be today.
Next to that highway. :rolleyes:
as the truck drivers hooted a greeting.
Just a question of perspective I guess.........
 
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Another possibility, similar to trecile's suggestion, would be to start from Salamanca on the Via de la Plata via the Camino Sanabrés to Santiago de Compostela (and on to Finisterre or Muxia if you want to get to the coast). That would start with flatter terrain to get your walking legs going followed by the climbs and descents once you hit Galicia. But that was not one of the routes you mentioned.
 
Will you want company when you walk or do you need solitude?

Ingles, Finisterre, Muxia, Portuguese from Porto all have some company but not as much as the Frances.

VDLP and Sanabres are quiet as they are relatively less travelled.
 
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I'm planning my second camino from mid March until mid April. I have 4 weeks total, which will probably allow about 25 walking days.

I walked the Camino Frances 10 years ago, and skipped the section from Burgos to Leon because I felt a resistance to the meseta. I've wanted to do the Norte since my last Camino, so when I booked my flight, I did so with the intention of walking the Camino del Norte from Irun until I run out of time.

But I'm having doubts. When I walked the Camino Frances, I was healthy, strong and very fit back then, in much better shape than I am now.

As things are now, I'm at the end of an 18 month period of sick leave from work, and almost out of the woods after years of dealing with chronic pain and fatigue. I've been going to physio, and feeling stronger, like my old self again. However, I have doubts about whether it's wise for me to jump right into the Norte route, alone, when I'm not confident that I'm strong enough. I worry about a risk of injury, or if I'll find I just don't have the stamina for steep climbs and descents. I keep picturing heavy rain, and steep, slippery, muddy trails. But is it really that bad in March?

I'm thinking about combining sections of a few different routes. I would love to walk by the ocean, so I'm considering the coastal route from Porto to Santiago. I'm also thinking of returning to the Frances to walk the meseta from Burgos to Leon. It's calling me for some reason.

If I wanted to do a bit of each of these 3 routes, how should I order them? Considering weather, availability of accommodation, and warming up to the routine of walking, what do you think is the best plan?

Not giving any tips on how to combine as I do not know the Norte.
But if the Meseta is calling, go for it! I enjoyed that stretch last time and I think many people who skip it have a distorted idea what it is like and would be amazed that it is actually not so bad, if not even really nice.

I walked the Camino Primitivo after struggling for years with long covid. So to me, like for you now, it was a test if my body is nearly back to what it used to be when I did the Camino Francés. I must say, I am not there yet and it was more exhausting than it would have been before, but it was doable. So I walked in record time but with far more pain/exhaustion than planned. But I knew when not to overdo it.

I think the most important thing is to listen to your body while you do it. And be prepared to walk slower or shorter sections against your original plan. Be prepared, that in the end you might have to skip a part you planned to do. If you plan 3 different sections of 3 different routes, what is the worst that could happen? Probably that you only finish 1 or 2 of them. That is still 1 or 2 times success :cool:
 
In late May, my neighbour and I, both in our 60s, are planning to walk from StJdPdP to Pamplona and a little beyond (the wine fountain may be a draw) before getting a bus to the coast - we then propose to hire a car and drive along the coast for two days to Ribadeo and then walk the rest to Santiago - we only have two weeks so hope to combine the 'pain but joy' of the Pyranees combined with the coastal views and then the final, qualifying element - has anyone done similar?
 
If your health is still improving I think the added stress of travelling between three routes would detract from the total experience.
I agree with the suggestion to pick one route and enjoy. The idea of starting on the flat is excellent (Meseta or VDLP from Salamanca). It was my strategy for walking the Via in 2022 - I used to call it ‘the old people’s Camino’ because it is relatively flat for much of the time - and then you get to the beautiful mountains.
Or if you long for the sea then try Portugese Coastal.
Listen to your heart - don’t try and figure it all out - make a choice and enjoy what that brings.
Buen Camino.
 
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I can understand the urge to squeeze it all in, especially after all you have been through recently. I also have to do some fancy footwork to combine routes, because I just can’t be on the Camino for 6 weeks anymore. And I also know that here on the forum, we always try to stick to the question asked and not give unsolicited advice. But as you can see, there are already lots who have been unable to resist, so I will also throw in my two cents of unsolicited advice.

I think that walking bits of three different routes over a period of 25 walking days (minus the travel days to get from one route to the next) will most likely leave you feeling discombobulated and unfulfilled. Kind of like how I imagine the “if it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium” crowd feels. But maybe not, that’s your call. But I have to say that I agree with everyone who suggests that picking one and sticking with it is what they would do. Another vote for Burgos to Santiago and onward to Finisterre and/or Muxia if you have time. Or the Portugués or the Norte from whatever starting point seems most reasonable for your walking days. If it’s the camino that’s calling to you, I think you will shortchange it by hopping around.
 
I'm planning my second camino from mid March until mid April. I have 4 weeks total, which will probably allow about 25 walking days.

I walked the Camino Frances 10 years ago, and skipped the section from Burgos to Leon because I felt a resistance to the meseta. I've wanted to do the Norte since my last Camino, so when I booked my flight, I did so with the intention of walking the Camino del Norte from Irun until I run out of time.

But I'm having doubts. When I walked the Camino Frances, I was healthy, strong and very fit back then, in much better shape than I am now.

As things are now, I'm at the end of an 18 month period of sick leave from work, and almost out of the woods after years of dealing with chronic pain and fatigue. I've been going to physio, and feeling stronger, like my old self again. However, I have doubts about whether it's wise for me to jump right into the Norte route, alone, when I'm not confident that I'm strong enough. I worry about a risk of injury, or if I'll find I just don't have the stamina for steep climbs and descents. I keep picturing heavy rain, and steep, slippery, muddy trails. But is it really that bad in March?

I'm thinking about combining sections of a few different routes. I would love to walk by the ocean, so I'm considering the coastal route from Porto to Santiago. I'm also thinking of returning to the Frances to walk the meseta from Burgos to Leon. It's calling me for some reason.

If I wanted to do a bit of each of these 3 routes, how should I order them? Considering weather, availability of accommodation, and warming up to the routine of walking, what do you think is the best plan?
Hi, I missed the Meseta first time around too, in 2019 but it was always calling to me! I went back last June and I loved it, it's magical, ancient and probably one of the best stages along the Frances, you should go :) Also, I have walked the Norte/Primitvo and the first week is fabulous but pretty tough, a lot of uphill, it was over 30deg when I did it but also rain etc would present a whole load of other problems if you're not feeling totally strong. There is the Camino Vasco from Irun to Burgos but I don't know about elevation and from Leon you could make your way to Oviedo and get back onto the Norte (I'm told the steepest stages are at the beginning). Anyway, I'm sure you will have a wonderful Camino whatever you choose! Buen Camino!
 
I'm not one to argue against combining routes, especially after my experience combining the Madrid/Salvador/Primitivo/Finisterre-Muxia routes last year.

Since you've asked for advice, and are concerned about the physical shape you'll be in, and want to combine routes, and want some time by the shore, how about combining the Senda Litoral and Coastal from Porto with the Spiritual Variant and the Finisterre-Muxia Camino. If you take it nice and easy and have a rest day or two here and there, that should use up your four weeks. And then you won't have to worry about transit from one Camino to another, because one will start where the other ends. I found that worked well for me on my combination Camino last year.
 
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I hear the pull to do the Meseta in your writing. I really enjoy the Meseta. What about walking the Meseta and this is your warmup. Then Bus from Leon to Porto. Alsa has a bus that is about 6hrs and 35euros. You can now walk the coastal and probably have enough days with rest days if needed and travel days with a day to enjoy Porto ( based on 25 walking days ) If not you can easily modify by taking stages out. I have not done the coastal (I hear its beautiful) but I have done the central a few times. Have fun planning! Buen Camino!
 
Hi Lizzi
I think you may have already booked your flight? If not March is too early for the Norte I got wet almost every day in Apr. I would say the Coastal route The Littoral from Porto to Santiago is perfect for your needs. The Walking is restorative, I did the Alternative route on the River but it is tough. You will join the main route into Santiago and enjoy the Camino finale. Please don't put yourself under any pressure, there is so much to see and do but One Camino walking each day is the way to get the most reward.
 
If you have 25 days and start on the Norte, then I suggest you stay on the Norte. It gets a lot better once again after Gijon.

I so much loved the trails next to the sea/ocean that came after San Esteban de Pravia.
 
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.
Go for the Meseta Lizz! Walk Burgos --> Leon --> Ponferrada --> and from there via the Camino de Invierno to the apostle in Santiago 🌸

But any other route will also do the job ;)
 
I am in a similar situation. It’s been several years since I’ve walked my last long distance pilgrimage, and the beginning difficulty of the Norte intimidates me. I am flying into Porto the beginning of June and have 50 days until I fly home. Instead of the Norte, I was thinking about walking Burgos to Leon - I love the Meseta! -, then walking the Camino del Salvador up to Oviedo, then walking the Primitivo. My thought is the Meseta would be good training for the mountains. But I do wonder if spending my whole time on one camino would feel more complete.
 
I'm planning my second camino from mid March until mid April. I have 4 weeks total, which will probably allow about 25 walking days.

I walked the Camino Frances 10 years ago, and skipped the section from Burgos to Leon because I felt a resistance to the meseta. I've wanted to do the Norte since my last Camino, so when I booked my flight, I did so with the intention of walking the Camino del Norte from Irun until I run out of time.

But I'm having doubts. When I walked the Camino Frances, I was healthy, strong and very fit back then, in much better shape than I am now.

As things are now, I'm at the end of an 18 month period of sick leave from work, and almost out of the woods after years of dealing with chronic pain and fatigue. I've been going to physio, and feeling stronger, like my old self again. However, I have doubts about whether it's wise for me to jump right into the Norte route, alone, when I'm not confident that I'm strong enough. I worry about a risk of injury, or if I'll find I just don't have the stamina for steep climbs and descents. I keep picturing heavy rain, and steep, slippery, muddy trails. But is it really that bad in March?

I'm thinking about combining sections of a few different routes. I would love to walk by the ocean, so I'm considering the coastal route from Porto to Santiago. I'm also thinking of returning to the Frances to walk the meseta from Burgos to Leon. It's calling me for some reason.

If I wanted to do a bit of each of these 3 routes, how should I order them? Considering weather, availability of accommodation, and warming up to the routine of walking, what do you think is the best plan?
Meseta with a day in Burgos and one in Leon will be around 9 days , could be 10.
Then train from Leon to Gijon / Aviles is only 1.30hrs
Train back to Santander is 4hrs .

Spend the rest of your time on the Norte from either of the above , you will get plenty of water and the plus of public transport if you wish to skip a few sections to make sure you arrive in SDC.
 
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