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WHY would you do a winter camino?

Nanc

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
I am not asking to be flip or judgemental, and many of you experienced souls have chosen to do winter caninos. So can I ask WHY?

Many albergues are closed so choices are less and farther between. Merino wool would never dry outdoors ( and in my fall experience, not even in the dryers sometimes). Daylight hours are short, limiting the stretch of your days. Way-marking maybe obscured. The weather seems to be cold and damp which means your feet will be the same. Heavier winter gear means a heavier pack.
So why ARE you doing it? ( I'm obviously missing something here)
Nanc
 
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RobertS26

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, (2013)
Camino Frances, (2014)
Camino Frances, (2015)
Its the closest thing you can come to that would replicate walking the Camino Frances during the summer 30 years ago. Solitude. Lots to time to reflect. A need to be resourceful because the infrastructure is not complete. No taxigrinos. No tour buses. Just you and the Camino. Like the old days.
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
Hi @Nanc
Haven't done a winter Camino - yet - but it would appeal for all the reasons quoted by @RobertS26 above. Not for everyone and you would have to be experienced, well-prepared for any emergency and resourceful, something that seasoned backpackers would relish. As for merino garments - I once spent 35 days trekking in the Himalayas and my gear only needed washing once (truly!) and dried overnight between sleeping bag and sleeping mat in my tent with an outside temp of -18℃.
 

beiramar

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
Some people simply enjoy winter.
I like it cold, it's cozy to wear thick clothes and to look forward to a warm evening in front of a fireplace.
I love snow and ice, it's magic and mesmerizing.
Winter is a time of silence to be outdoors, not so many tourists, no stress.
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2012 ViaFrancigena 2016 ViaPodiensis 2022
Hiking in the Spanish winter must be warmer than the cross country hut trips we do here. It's not that different than any other hike, except long johns instead of shorts, heavy boots instead of trail runners. I use the same Goretex shells, add a wool shirt, beanie and an insulator and make sure there is appropriate gear (bivy sack and synthetic winter bag) in the pack.

As for why...it's beautiful!

I did miss the hours of sunlight one late fall Camino, though.
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Its the closest thing you can come to that would replicate walking the Camino Frances during the summer 30 years ago. Solitude. Lots to time to reflect. A need to be resourceful because the infrastructure is not complete. No taxigrinos. No tour buses. Just you and the Camino. Like the old days.

That and my very first Camino was a winter camino (just happened that way). Buen Camino, SY
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
@Nanc, what you think you're missing may just be a question of differing motivation. So I'd turn your question around and ask why you walk in the not-winter? The frame of reference will define the question you're asking.

The closest I've come was starting in early March--there was still some snow but it was basically early spring.
I like to go then because of the possibility of solitude, quiet, and for the lack of boozy parties along the way. And because I wanted to test my inner and outer edges.

I walk as a contemplation and as a way to find and challenge limitations. It's not at all about wearing a hairshirt, but I don't necessarily have to be comfortable, or dry, or to carry a light pack, or to have predictably open bars. Open (or warm) albergues are nice, but one makes do with what is there if they're not. And because my limits do get tested, that actually makes winter a better time to walk.

This year my schedule requires a later walk and I'm questioning my sanity about walking in summer. So we have mirror image questions.;)
 

SabineP

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
@Nanc, what you think you're missing may just be a question of differing motivation. So I'd turn your question around and ask why you walk in the not-winter? The frame of reference will define the question you're asking.

The closest I've come was starting in early March--there was still some snow but it was basically early spring.
I like to go then because of the possibility of solitude, quiet, and for the lack of boozy parties along the way. And because I wanted to test my inner and outer edges.

I walk as a contemplation and as a way to find and challenge limitations. It's not at all about wearing a hairshirt, but I don't necessarily have to be comfortable, or dry, or to carry a light pack, or to have predictably open bars. Open (or warm) albergues are nice, but one makes do with what is there if they're not. And because my limits do get tested, that actually makes winter a better time to walk.

This year my schedule requires a later walk and I'm questioning my sanity about walking in summer. So we have mirror image questions.;)

Due to different reasons I will not walk the Sanabres next year so I will walk a part of the Frances again from 20th of March starting in Carrion de los Condes.
Basically the day winter turns into spring.Although not middle of winter anymore but I hope to experience some solitude and like Viranani I want to test some of my limits. And even that is subjective seeing Frances is hardly the wilderness.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I am not asking to be flip or judgemental, and many of you experienced souls have chosen to do winter caninos. So can I ask WHY?
@Nanc, if you are not asking for these reasons, why are you asking? I ask because it puzzles me that anyone would think that the motivations for undertaking a pilgrimage are mediated by the seasons and by the physical and logistical challenges that might arise depending on the season.
 

Pong

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés - April - May 2016
Camino del Norte - April - May 2017
Frances - March-April 2018
"le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas/ the heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing."
View attachment 30207
Foncebadon, March 2009
Beautiful - both the image and the sentiment. I have not walked Camino in winter, but having done winter trips in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I can understand the appeal - solitude (which some seek rather than fear), and a whole different kind of beauty.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
@Nanc, if you are not asking for these reasons, why are you asking? I ask because it puzzles me that anyone would think that the motivations for undertaking a pilgrimage are mediated by the seasons and by the physical and logistical challenges that might arise depending on the season.

They are certainly factors that are important to me when choosing a Camino/season! Buen Camino, SY
 

GreatDane

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF to Burgos Sept/Oct 2014, Burgos to Astorga April 2016, Astorga to SdC 2017
I've walked in early April and October. Still too hot for me! I am a winter person and would love hiking in one more layer later in the season. I live 4.5 hours east of you so I get my fill of hot weather here. To each his/her own.
 
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vlebe

Walker Member
Past OR future Camino
2001; 2004; 2009; 2013, (2016/2017)
Its the closest thing you can come to that would replicate walking the Camino Frances during the summer 30 years ago. Solitude. Lots to time to reflect. A need to be resourceful because the infrastructure is not complete. No taxigrinos. No tour buses. Just you and the Camino. Like the old days.
I second that. Dont even need to formulate my own answer.

Just adding that some people love cold weather and dread hot weather. I can go on and on in a cold weather but, if the heat is too much, I WILL get sick and experience will be ruined...

#winterwalkinglovers :rolleyes:;)
 
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Sue M

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPdP-Burgos(2012)Leon-Santiago(2013)Sarria- Santiago(Sept 2013),Frances (coach,2013),Le Puy-Conques(May 2014), parish pilgrimage organised for June 2015.
I would never do it in June or September again, having collapsed with heat exhaustion at the top of the steps going into Portomarin in September. People made me lie down and poured water from the fountain over me. When I got up my clothes were ruined because I had been lying in melted tarmac.
 

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
A woman I met on Etsy told me she loves going in Winter because of the peaceful solitude, beauty and less crowded. She did the Frances on the first winter camino and will walk the Portuguese camino in a few months. I'd LUV to do a Winter Camino because I thrive in cool/cold versus hot weather. <3
 
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I am going to walk the Camino de Madrid to Sahagùn later this month. I am naturally inclined to defer to others over map-reading, making decisions about how far to walk daily, etc., when I find myself meeting + walking with others on my spring-summer caminos, so walking by myself in the winter months gives me a welcome opportunity to be totally self-reliant in all such matters. My only reservation is packing sensibly to cope with both warmer + colder winter conditions I might encounter on the route. My only fear is having to deal with snow, which is highly probable, and so maybe winter walks also provide me with a bit of risk that is absent in my normal day-to-day routine
 
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whariwharangi

Guest
I am not asking to be flip or judgemental, and many of you experienced souls have chosen to do winter caninos. So can I ask WHY?

Many albergues are closed so choices are less and farther between. Merino wool would never dry outdoors ( and in my fall experience, not even in the dryers sometimes). Daylight hours are short, limiting the stretch of your days. Way-marking maybe obscured. The weather seems to be cold and damp which means your feet will be the same. Heavier winter gear means a heavier pack.
So why ARE you doing it? ( I'm obviously missing something here)
Nanc

Cuz its warmer and drier than it is here at home.
 

poogeyejr

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Norte, May 2011
Norte, Sept 2013
Frances, 1wk, Jan 2017
I too chose the winter for the solitude. My first two Camino's were on the Norte - 20 people at the hostel each night, but you walked alone and saw your fellow pilgrims at the local bars as you walked by - I love the feeling of being alone, but meeting up with people at the end of the day. However, the crowded feeling of the last 100km when you merge with the Frances was not something I wished to repeat for an entire Camino. Winter seemed the best time to get the least crowded Camino.
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
I'm currently in Villaharta a pueblo blanco in the mountains above Córdoba on the Camino Mozárabe. Although cold in the evenings I've been walking in shorts and had to wear sunscreen. This evening in the hostel there are 6 pilgrims!

Winter walking is wonderful. Of course the weather can present challenges but I don't believe the pilgrimage to Santiago was ever intended as an exclusively fine weather pursuit!
 

Glen Moray

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2012-13; 2013-4;2016-17 SDC-Muxia-Finisterre 2015, 2018 Ferrol-SDC 2018
Another reason, n0t mentioned so far is it is the only time of year anyone in full time work can get a reasonable amount of time off. My office will close this year from 23 December to January 3 and taking a couple of days annual leave will allow two weeks of walking.

Coming from a colder country, the Spanish weather is quite mild in comparison., or maybe I have been lucky so far !
 
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Barbara06

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy - Pamplona (2011-14)
VDLP (2015)
Portuguese (2015)
Francigena (2016)
Primitivo (2017)
Some people may work in the summer months and are only free in the winter...
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Past OR future Camino
.
November to mid-December 2008 was my first camino. It was often cold and there was lots of snow in the mountains. Few albergues had central heating ("Calefaccione??" we’d ask in pleading tones at the door) but only a few had neither central heating nor a real fire - which was really the essential thing. It was only the unrelenting wet-cold of Galicia that made any inroads into our morale - and that was later.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/peregrino_tom/3167221787/in/album-72157625466500581/
This pic was taken a couple of hours after leaving Rabanal where it had been about minus 5C the evening before. All the snow had turned to ice and walking up or down the village hill was a precarious business. The day before, we arrived at Pilar’s place (the only albergue open in the village) about lunchtime. It was snowing hard and there was some debate as to whether it would be possible to find the way up to Foncebadon, even on the road. So Pilar suggested we eat (great plates of pasta and tomato sauce) and see if the weather improved. Then some elderly locals came in and there followed a great discussion of the weather and whether it would be possible to walk to Foncebadon or not. At some point during the proceedings an unmarked bottle of a golden liquid started being handed around. After a while the conversation became more hypothetical and less leaning towards a practical testing of the options. Later in the dark we all slid clumsily over the ice to the church for the Gregorian chanting. Renovations were taking place and we were placed on a temporary platform overlooking the exposed earthen floor of the church, where a number of skeletons were visible. Even so, I think we all slept well that night. The next morning we said goodbye to the Austrian who had walked this far in sandals and socks, and who would go no further. Others with trainers took up Pilar’s offer of having their feet and lower legs wrapped up with bin liners and bound with sticky tape.
For all of us who’d met over the preceding couple of weeks, it was our first camino and none of us really knew what to expect or how dangerous or otherwise this adventure might be. In fact some of our compadres had gone ahead to Manjarin (which had no electricity or other such comforts) and been snowed in for a couple of days - and seemed all the more exhilrated by the experience.
I’d thought this winter camino would all be a time of solitary reflection in a bleak forbidding landscape. Not at all. The people I met along the way - for whom I blame much - led me into a life of practical jokes, alcoholic consumption, snowball fights, giggling at snorers after lights-out, absurd mirth, incredible generosity (on their part) and deep deep affection. And a lot of that was definitely to do with the season and the kinds of people it attracts.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/peregrino_tom/3167291025/in/album-72157625466500581/
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2012 ViaFrancigena 2016 ViaPodiensis 2022
...My only reservation is packing sensibly to cope with both warmer + colder winter conditions I might encounter on the route. My only fear is having to deal with snow, which is highly probable, and so maybe winter walks also provide me with a bit of risk that is absent in my normal day-to-day routine

Some of the worst weather I ever experienced was in your neck of the woods on the Lake District C2C in early June. My husband and I opted out of Hellvelyn, which is known to be pretty intimidating. But even on a lower ridge, horizontal hail blew in out of nowhere with dense fog and screaming winds. We crawled behind a big boulder on top and waited for a break in the thick fog before carefully picking our way from cairn to cairn, sure we were going to take a tumble all the way to the bottom. We got to a cabin at the first break off the peak to shelter from the wind. A few minutes later, a couple of women found their way to our spot and said they had followed my red jacket through the fog.

The blind leading the blind....and our guardian angels worked overtime yet again.

By the way, for the critics out there...it was clear weather when starting out and didn't get bad until we were nearly on top. I've done a fair bit of mountaineering and winter through hiking and had full spring weather gear. Weather changes, things happen. But the best rule is to hug a tree (or British rock) when lost or socked in and not to move until you're sure it's safe again.

There is nothing on the Camino that intimidated me anywhere near as much as that English trail. Who knew gentle England had knife edge peaks with long drops, scree and scary weather?!

As far as snow, poles and gaiters are helpful and I wouldn't go out without an emergency blanket, extra layer, gloves, good goretex shells in a bright color, hooded insulator, extra socks, snacks, water, full first aid kit, sunglasses, maps, compass, GPS and/or iPhone and backup batteries. Overkill perhaps....except for the one day you need them.

If you do day training hikes on the trails in your area, you will be more than prepared for the Camino. I can't wait to go back to the Lake District and do some "fell walking" (where did THAT expression come from? It is anything but walking!) in clear weather. I hear the views are beautiful!
 
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018, (2019)
Some of the worst weather I ever experienced was in your neck of the woods on the Lake District C2C in early June. My husband and I opted out of Hellvelyn, which is known to be pretty intimidating. But even on a lower ridge, horizontal hail blew in out of nowhere with dense fog and screaming winds. We crawled behind a big boulder on top and waited for a break in the thick fog before carefully picking our way from cairn to cairn, sure we were going to take a tumble all the way to the bottom. We got to a cabin at the first break off the peak to shelter from the wind. A few minutes later, a couple of women found their way to our spot and said they had followed my red jacket through the fog.

The blind leading the blind....and our guardian angels worked overtime yet again.

By the way, for the critics out there...it was clear weather when starting out and didn't get bad until we were nearly on top. I've done a fair bit of mountaineering and winter through hiking and had full spring weather gear. Weather changes, things happen. But the best rule is to hug a tree (or British rock) when lost or socked in and not to move until you're sure it's safe again.

There is nothing on the Camino that intimidated me anywhere near as much as that English trail. Who knew gentle England had knife edge peaks with long drops, scree and scary weather?!

As far as snow, poles and gaiters are helpful and I wouldn't go out without an emergency blanket, extra layer, gloves, good goretex shells in a bright color, hooded insulator, extra socks, snacks, water, full first aid kit, sunglasses, maps, compass, GPS and/or iPhone and backup batteries. Overkill perhaps....except for the one day you need them.

If you do day training hikes on the trails in your area, you will be more than prepared for the Camino. I can't wait to go back to the Lake District and do some "fell walking" (where did THAT expression come from? It is anything but walking!) in clear weather. I hear the views are beautiful!

@Purple Backpack,
So, you weren't too enamoured with the best of our British summer weather? I have to admit I was enjoying the account of your Lakeland trip up to the point where you mentioned the perils of ridge-walking. I should have listed it as one of my major fears in my previous post, but I must have suppressed the emotion after having been stranded once on a Scottish Monroe, with a long 'tightrope' of a ridge ahead of me + nothing but deep banks of scree on either side. I was so traumatised at the time, my companions very nearly had to call on the mountain rescue team to bring me back down again. Someone please tell me there are no ridge-walks on the CdMadrid.
 
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peregrinolincoln

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino frances 2003, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017
I have gone on the Camino Frances four times - once in the summer, once in the spring, and twice in the winter (mid-January to mid-February in 2015 and 2016.) I am a Catholic priest, and that time period between Christmas and the beginning of Lent is the best time for me to get away. I love the solitude of winter. I love the starkness of the environment. I approach the Camino as I would a spiritual retreat, so winter is the perfect time for me to go with time to reflect and pray all day long. I have never had a problem finding lodging for the night. I have enjoyed the winter season on the Camino - would never go in summer again.
 

Nanc

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
Thank you all for the insights. Rebekah that video was hauntingly beautiful, and though I recognized common village signs, I was seeing a different world than I had traveled
And perigrino_tom what I loved most about yout winter photos was the absolutely engaging smiles on the faces of everyone regardless or pouring rain. It matches your comments of the people with whom you shared the communal golden liquid
I wont say never but I do see the beauty
 
D

Deleted member 43985

Guest
On top of the enjoyment of cold weather and solitude, I found the people I walked with in January and February were there for the same reasons I was which made it a very enjoyable atmosphere. Also, because there are a limited number of Albergues open I found most most of us stayed at the same place most nights which made for a very strong Camino Family.
 

Jools

Member
Past OR future Camino
Primitivo Juky 2015
Its the closest thing you can come to that would replicate walking the Camino Frances during the summer 30 years ago. Solitude. Lots to time to reflect. A need to be resourceful because the infrastructure is not complete. No taxigrinos. No tour buses. Just you and the Camino. Like the old days.
Using this argument Robert you could just walk the Primitivo in summer instead of the Frances
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
WHY? For the beauty, the chance of greater solitude, if I couldn't get away in autumn, and because temperatures that seem daunting to some (-5C?) seem like a break in the winter cold to me. But I would spend a fortune on the best clothing and gear and test it carefully. And I would acknowledge that this is a real test of my determination and preparation, like my first Camino, to be approached with caution.
 
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Texasguy

And so...we keep on walking ..
Past OR future Camino
French Dec in 2013
Por 03- 2015
Ingles 11- 2015
French 12- 2016
Invierno Nov 2018
Kumano 2017
All my caminos have been in the winter. My two Camino Franceses, My Portugues, my Camino Ingles, and hopefully, this year My Camino del Norte.
There is nothing like enjoying the beauty and solitude of a winter Camino. The cold weather, the getting into the albergues and sit in front of the fireplace. The beauty of the forest, the roads, it is priceless.
I would never walked a Camino in the summer, way too many people, too many lines, just too many things that aren't for me.

Buen Camino,
Texas guy
 

SaraJenn-11

New Member
Past OR future Camino
December 2016
I walked the CF in mid January this year...(surprised at the large numbers)
...and..
I walked the Via de la Plata in mid-August a few years ago.

Bookends, I guess.
@grayland Did you find most alburgues closed? I'm heading out this December and have heard very contradicting things on this?
 

Texasguy

And so...we keep on walking ..
Past OR future Camino
French Dec in 2013
Por 03- 2015
Ingles 11- 2015
French 12- 2016
Invierno Nov 2018
Kumano 2017
@grayland Did you find most alburgues closed? I'm heading out this December and have heard very contradicting things on this?

Some were closed, however, before you leave the one for the day, you always checked on the one in the next etapa(the allerges have a list and they talk to each other to let them know how many are going that way). Not a problem at all, the only issue/gift was, we had 20 cm of snow in Ocebreiro on Christmas Eve, and the Camino was closed the next day.
That Christmas Eve dinner was THE BEST i ever had, nothing, nothing like that can be experienced with the hundred of folks in the Camino Frances in spring/summer.

Buen Camino

Texas guy
 

wanderer806

New Member
Past OR future Camino
(2013)
I am not asking to be flip or judgemental, and many of you experienced souls have chosen to do winter caninos. So can I ask WHY?

Many albergues are closed so choices are less and farther between. Merino wool would never dry outdoors ( and in my fall experience, not even in the dryers sometimes). Daylight hours are short, limiting the stretch of your days. Way-marking maybe obscured. The weather seems to be cold and damp which means your feet will be the same. Heavier winter gear means a heavier pack.
So why ARE you doing it? ( I'm obviously missing something here)
Nanc
  1. We walked our first Camino Frances December 2014, starting in SJPP, and it was beautiful. Our days were crisp and sunny in the main. Enough alburgues and bars were open - we never cooked our own meals. Fellow pilgrims were enough for camaraderie but it was never crowded. Also, being school teachers in Australia that was the only time period that we had available.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Yes
The Pilgrim Office in St. Jean provided a list of open albergues along the way.
There is also a very up to date list on a website that is very accurate and is updated.
often.
I am on my iPhone now and do not have the website address.
Maybe someone can post it for you.
 
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Magnara

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Santiago de Compostela (2005) Via Francigena (2010) Le Puy to St Jean (2014)
I am not asking to be flip or judgemental, and many of you experienced souls have chosen to do winter caninos. So can I ask WHY?

Many albergues are closed so choices are less and farther between. Merino wool would never dry outdoors ( and in my fall experience, not even in the dryers sometimes). Daylight hours are short, limiting the stretch of your days. Way-marking maybe obscured. The weather seems to be cold and damp which means your feet will be the same. Heavier winter gear means a heavier pack.
So why ARE you doing it? ( I'm obviously missing something here)
Nanc

Ditto to all the other replies, about how we found it and what we liked about it. But the choice in the first place was because that was the only time that we could get 5 weeks leave from work. the rest of the amazing experience just flowed from that.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/

J F Gregory

Camino Norte fall 2022
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2021 hoping to return in fall 2022.
My wife and I walked a winter Camino at the beginning of the year. The solitude, the peace were wonderful. We also met really wonderful people. One shop keeper commended us for our pilgrimage. He said "after May it changes from pilgrimage to processional."
 

Barbara06

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy - Pamplona (2011-14)
VDLP (2015)
Portuguese (2015)
Francigena (2016)
Primitivo (2017)
Using this argument Robert you could just walk the Primitivo in summer instead of the Frances
Yes I agree, in fact most Caminos are very solitary (Sureste, Levante, Lana, Madrid,...), the Frances is the exeption which is crowded. Not necessary to do this camino in winter for the only reason to be alone as you can try the others in summer..
 

Nanc

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
Thank you all for the replies. For those of you who walk in winter because that is the only time available, my admiration for your commitment.
For those who walk in winter because you see (internally or externally) something more, something different, thank you for giving my ignorant eyes a new vision
Nanc
 
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debra

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2010, Frances 2010
Via Francigena 2014 bicigrino
Way of St. Francis 2017 bicigrino
I have a planned pilgrimage in late January to early February because it is the time I can have of
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
I have walked in summer and fall. February-to-April 2014, I restarted my life by walking C.F. after a ten-year camino and life hiatus. I was blessed to fall in mud, twisting my ankle on other side of hill with metal pilgims just outside of Pamplona. Blessed to pray: "no more mud" often. Blessed to continue walking to Astorga, with an eggplant for a foot. Blessed to meet foot surgeon pilgrim from Germany at albergue in Astorga who suggested two things: take bus to Ponferrada bypassing snowy mtn pass, and keep his profession a secret. Blessed in Ponferrada, Priest who oversaw albergue allowed me to recover for 8 days in my own room. I had been a hospitalera there in 2002; he remembered me. Blessed to see Dr in Ponferrada who suggested I quit camino. Blessed to have him bandage my ankle. Blessed to give up Nike running shoes, I always walk in them, but tape made that impossibe. Would have been blessed to have realized Nike running shoes might not be hardy enough for winter walk. Truly blessed to find "miracle boots" in pilgrim bin at albergue in Ponferrada. Blessed boots were my exact size, waterproof, and nearly brand new. Blessed to be hospitalera day of Ponferrada departure. Blessed with a freezing cold night in Logrono. We, blessed pilgrims begged hospitalero for heat, no go. Blessed with many a chilly night. In one albergue, the only other pilgrim was blessed to wear a bright-yellow plastic spaceman-like jumpsuit to bed. Neither he nor I were blessed with pilgrim-to-pilgrim conversation. Blessed to stay alone at an albergue with a tub. Blessed to stay alone at albergue in Valcarlos. Blessed to discover pilgrims are truly looked after. At said refugio, two men showed up at to see what had happened to me. All of the blessed pilgrims with whom I had begun day in SJPP had gone to Roncesvalles. Blessed to have German priest whose bunk was below mine in Santiago tell me about Parador's free pilgrims meals. We: priest, two young Dutch girls I'd met on camino, a few others, and I enjoyed a few hearty meals courtesy of Parador. Blessed to see play in Granon, given by hospitaleros, who were there for training. Blessed to walk in rare unrelentingly hot day on way to Finisterre. Blessed to see this sign on albergue, "closed due to illness". I was blessed to feel ill at thought of walking another 17 kms in blazing heat to an open refugio. Blessed to meet up with camino friends in Fisterra, a German girl and USA guy. They were blessed to have found love on pilgrimage, and a joint hospitalero stint in Fisterra. Will I bless myself with another winter pilgrimage? No. But, I am blessed to have done so!
 
Last edited:

katie@camino

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016;CP (Central) Porto-SdC 2017;CP (Coastal) Porto-SdC 2018;CF Leon-SdC 2019
  1. We walked our first Camino Frances December 2014, starting in SJPP, and it was beautiful. Our days were crisp and sunny in the main. Enough alburgues and bars were open - we never cooked our own meals. Fellow pilgrims were enough for camaraderie but it was never crowded. Also, being school teachers in Australia that was the only time period that we had available.
Wanderer, i too work in a school in Australia and am considerin a winter Camino - i would love to hear about yours!!
 

Tonylash

Member
Past OR future Camino
None
Some of the worst weather I ever experienced was in your neck of the woods on the Lake District C2C in early June. My husband and I opted out of Hellvelyn, which is known to be pretty intimidating. But even on a lower ridge, horizontal hail blew in out of nowhere with dense fog and screaming winds. We crawled behind a big boulder on top and waited for a break in the thick fog before carefully picking our way from cairn to cairn, sure we were going to take a tumble all the way to the bottom. We got to a cabin at the first break off the peak to shelter from the wind. A few minutes later, a couple of women found their way to our spot and said they had followed my red jacket through the fog.

The blind leading the blind....and our guardian angels worked overtime yet again.

By the way, for the critics out there...it was clear weather when starting out and didn't get bad until we were nearly on top. I've done a fair bit of mountaineering and winter through hiking and had full spring weather gear. Weather changes, things happen. But the best rule is to hug a tree (or British rock) when lost or socked in and not to move until you're sure it's safe again.

There is nothing on the Camino that intimidated me anywhere near as much as that English trail. Who knew gentle England had knife edge peaks with long drops, scree and scary weather?!

As far as snow, poles and gaiters are helpful and I wouldn't go out without an emergency blanket, extra layer, gloves, good goretex shells in a bright color, hooded insulator, extra socks, snacks, water, full first aid kit, sunglasses, maps, compass, GPS and/or iPhone and backup batteries. Overkill perhaps....except for the one day you need them.

If you do day training hikes on the trails in your area, you will be more than prepared for the Camino. I can't wait to go back to the Lake District and do some "fell walking" (where did THAT expression come from? It is anything but walking!) in clear weather. I hear the views are beautiful!
Some of the worst weather I ever experienced was in your neck of the woods on the Lake District C2C in early June. My husband and I opted out of Hellvelyn, which is known to be pretty intimidating. But even on a lower ridge, horizontal hail blew in out of nowhere with dense fog and screaming winds. We crawled behind a big boulder on top and waited for a break in the thick fog before carefully picking our way from cairn to cairn, sure we were going to take a tumble all the way to the bottom. We got to a cabin at the first break off the peak to shelter from the wind. A few minutes later, a couple of women found their way to our spot and said they had followed my red jacket through the fog.

The blind leading the blind....and our guardian angels worked overtime yet again.

By the way, for the critics out there...it was clear weather when starting out and didn't get bad until we were nearly on top. I've done a fair bit of mountaineering and winter through hiking and had full spring weather gear. Weather changes, things happen. But the best rule is to hug a tree (or British rock) when lost or socked in and not to move until you're sure it's safe again.

There is nothing on the Camino that intimidated me anywhere near as much as that English trail. Who knew gentle England had knife edge peaks with long drops, scree and scary weather?!

As far as snow, poles and gaiters are helpful and I wouldn't go out without an emergency blanket, extra layer, gloves, good goretex shells in a bright color, hooded insulator, extra socks, snacks, water, full first aid kit, sunglasses, maps, compass, GPS and/or iPhone and backup batteries. Overkill perhaps....except for the one day you need them.

If you do day training hikes on the trails in your area, you will be more than prepared for the Camino. I can't wait to go back to the Lake District and do some "fell walking" (where did THAT expression come from? It is anything but walking!) in clear weather. I hear the views are beautiful!
 
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Tonylash

Member
Past OR future Camino
None
Hi Purple Backpack , I enjoyed reading your post as I walk the fells most weekends & am seriously thinking of doing my first camino next year . If you ever come back to this neck of the woods , then give me a shout & we can go & do Helvellyn . I think it was last winter myself & a friend were on Helvellyn , the windchill was minus 17 & so I should be able to deal with any adverse weather on the camino ?
 
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018, (2019)
I have walked in summer and fall. February-to-April 2014, I restarted my life by walking C.F. after a ten-year camino and life hiatus. I was blessed to fall in mud, twisting my ankle on other side of hill with metal pilgims just outside of Pamplona. Blessed to pray: "no more mud" often. Blessed to continue walking to Astorga, with an eggplant for a foot. Blessed to meet foot surgeon pilgrim from Germany at albergue in Astorga who suggested two things: take bus to Ponferrada bypassing snowy mtn pass, and keep his profession a secret. Blessed in Ponferrada, Priest who oversaw albergue allowed me to recover for 8 days in my own room. I had been a hospitalera there in 2002; he remembered me. Blessed to see Dr in Ponferrada who suggested I quit camino. Blessed to have him bandage my ankle. Blessed to give up Nike running shoes, I always walk in them, but tape made that impossibe. Would have been blessed to have realized Nike running shoes might not be hardy enough for winter walk. Truly blessed to find "miracle boots" in pilgrim bin at albergue in Ponferrada. Blessed boots were my exact size, waterproof, and nearly brand new. Blessed to be hospitalera day of Ponferrada departure. Blessed with a freezing cold night in Logrono. We, blessed pilgrims begged hospitalero for heat, no go. Blessed with many a chilly night. In one albergue, the only other pilgrim was blessed to wear a bright-yellow plastic spaceman-like jumpsuit to bed. Neither he nor I were blessed with pilgrim-to-pilgrim conversation. Blessed to stay alone at an albergue with a tub. Blessed to stay alone at albergue in Valcarlos. Blessed to discover pilgrims are truly looked after. At said refugio, two men showed up at to see what had happened to me. All of the blessed pilgrims with whom I had begun day in SJPP had gone to Roncesvalles. Blessed to have German priest whose bunk was below mine in Santiago tell me about Parador's free pilgrims meals. We: priest, two young Dutch girls I'd met on camino, a few others, and I enjoyed a few hearty meals courtesy of Parador. Blessed to see play in Granon, given by hospitaleros, who were there for training. Blessed to walk in rare unrelentingly hot day on way to Finisterre. Blessed to see this sign on albergue, "closed due to illness". I was blessed to feel ill at thought of walking another 17 kms in blazing heat to an open refugio. Blessed to meet up with camino friends in Fisterra, a German girl and USA guy. They were blessed to have found love on pilgrimage, and a joint hospitalero stint in Fisterra. Will I bless myself with another winter pilgrimage? No. But, I am blessed to have done so!
That’s the ‘blessed’ story I’ve read on this forum. None bletter!
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2012 ViaFrancigena 2016 ViaPodiensis 2022
Yikes. Thanks for the offer but I'd have to get up the courage for that ridge. When the weather cleared that day, a rescue helicopter flew overhead. We heard that night that a father-son team had been hiking the ridge and the father had slipped and fell to his death. I was pretty happy we had been on the lower ridge.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/586888/Fifth-death-Lake-District-Helvellyn-mountain-summer-holiday

There's nothing on the Camino even remotely like Helvellyn so I think you've got this one. If I ever get the nerve up to do Helvellyn, will let you know!
 
Last edited:

quercus22

New Member
Still planning my first Camino, but it will likely be winter because the only time I can be away from my job for more than one week is between May 15 and Sept 1 or between Dec 20 and Jan 20. Given those options, I am considering the less crowded and less hot winter time period, though it will mean not doing the entire French route but starting at about 400 miles from Santiago. The big downside I see is the need to carry a heavier pack to accommodate sleeping bag and warmer clothes.

Any advice on this would be much appreciated.
 
Last edited:

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Still planning my first Camino, but it will likely be winter because the only time I can be away from my job for more than one week is between May 15 and Sept 1 or between Dec 20 and Jan 20. Given those options, I am considering the less crowded and less hot winter time period, though it will mean not doing the entire French route but starting at about 400 miles from Santiago. The big downside I see is the need to carry a heavier pack to accommodate sleeping bag and warmer clothes.

Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

Winter is a wonderful time to walk but you must be prepared!

To begin your research/planning do check the helpful posts/links in this recent forum thread.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/camino-winter-advice.51183/

Difficult CF stretches after winter storms might be from Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada or across the Montes de Oca from Villafranca as well as Monte Irago and, of course, to and from O Cebreiro.

Twice during winter caminos I have sat out true blizzards; in Villafranca Montes de Oca, February 25, 26, 2006 and Foncebadón, March 5,6, 2009. Even late November 2012 the climb up to O Cebreiro was packed with snow. You can read my blog accounts of these three memorable storms here. http://mermore.blogspot.fr/p/memories.html
Luckily open albergues offered welcoming shelter, heat and companionship.

Most who walk in late autumn and winter wear and carry lightweight but warm layers which can easily be added or removed while walking. Each pilgrim develops a favorite combo. Scan the Forum's Equipment
topic http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/forums/equipment-questions.30/
to see a multitude of varied approaches. Here's mine
http://mermore.blogspot.fr/p/kit-and-tips.html

Enjoy the planning and Buen camino!
 
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Texasguy

And so...we keep on walking ..
Past OR future Camino
French Dec in 2013
Por 03- 2015
Ingles 11- 2015
French 12- 2016
Invierno Nov 2018
Kumano 2017
I am not asking to be flip or judgemental, and many of you experienced souls have chosen to do winter caninos. So can I ask WHY?

Many albergues are closed so choices are less and farther between. Merino wool would never dry outdoors ( and in my fall experience, not even in the dryers sometimes). Daylight hours are short, limiting the stretch of your days. Way-marking maybe obscured. The weather seems to be cold and damp which means your feet will be the same. Heavier winter gear means a heavier pack.
So why ARE you doing it? ( I'm obviously missing something here)
Nanc


Quercus22,

I have just finished another Camino last week. I was trying to do it from Porto, but due to the rain in the last 2 weeks, I started in Tui. We could not do the Camino del norte due to snow.
The Camino was better than ever, few peregrinos, but people really enjoying walking in the winter. There were closed to 10 from Valencia do Minho, and it got closer to 20, one you got to Pontavedra.

There is a group of "regular " winter peregrinos that always do the walk in the winter, this is my 4th one to finisterre, this time of the year. A couple of thing to remember, the Xunta albergues are ALWAYS open this time of the year. If you choose to do the Variante Espiritual, remember, the boat will not be available until March. It is better to continue the inland option.

Many private albergues, will be closed, however, plenty of places to stay.

I have mentioned this before, I would never walk in the summer, just not my preference. I want to use this time to walk and enjoy my camino. I am truly not looking for a party on the camino.

If I can help you also with information on wonderful private albergues that are open year around, please message me directly, and I would be more than glad to share.

Buen camino,

Texas guy
 

jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Hi
The Xunta (municipal) albergues in Galicia have heating, but not blankets.
Jill
 

surya8

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
I'd probably walk in winter to get a chance to celebrate X-mas and New Year in a completely different way. Just one year, for a change. If I have a chance I'd probably do the Portugues way from the very south, like Lagos/Sagres or Faro. I recently stumbled upon a post on the Russian Camino page on Facebook - one guy walking the French Way late Dec-Jan had to walk long distances every day, around 40km on average, making it to 57km one day because some of the albergues on the way were close. Not sure if it was bad planning on his part or he liked the challenge it seems he still enjoyed his walk.
 
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There I was...on the Forum...iPhone in hand...making my plane reservations to depart next Monday. Then all of a sudden...I found myself deep in the upper reaches of Norway near Kirkenes. I started to cross a snow bridge when I slipped and rode my remaining ski 200 feet down hill. Just as I came to a jarring stop and as I was about to yell out I’m OK...I woke up! That...fellow pilgrims is why a Winter Camino is not in my future. Then again, ya never say never.
My hat is off to all stalwart pilgrims that have made, or will make, a Winter Camino.
Burr Camino,
Arn
 

Gumba

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I know this is an old thread but super excited as I just bought our airline tickets on Friday so we are off to a winter Camino mid December 2019 - late January 2020.

Cautiously excited. Actually, I switch between 'what have I done' to 'she'll be right, mate' (guess where we come from!!!!)

Winter Camino is because we need to travel far and during the children's long school holidays.

We walked during an unseasonably cold snap during March 2018 so feel somewhat prepared.

Looking forward to hearing from anyone who has walked more recently
 

PilgrimPillar

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Past OR future Camino
Francigena Sud
Shikoku 88
St Olav Waterways
Done this twice now......it’s getting clearer and clearer that mid winter Caminos offer nature, scenery in abundance....toned down, understated beauty.......and a sence of calm transpires in waves towards me each and every day....

40 plus got Compostella each day early january ......no wonder numbers climb...
 

Camgal

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2020)
Camino Portugese (2020)
Some of the worst weather I ever experienced was in your neck of the woods on the Lake District C2C in early June. My husband and I opted out of Hellvelyn, which is known to be pretty intimidating. But even on a lower ridge, horizontal hail blew in out of nowhere with dense fog and screaming winds. We crawled behind a big boulder on top and waited for a break in the thick fog before carefully picking our way from cairn to cairn, sure we were going to take a tumble all the way to the bottom. We got to a cabin at the first break off the peak to shelter from the wind. A few minutes later, a couple of women found their way to our spot and said they had followed my red jacket through the fog.

The blind leading the blind....and our guardian angels worked overtime yet again.

By the way, for the critics out there...it was clear weather when starting out and didn't get bad until we were nearly on top. I've done a fair bit of mountaineering and winter through hiking and had full spring weather gear. Weather changes, things happen. But the best rule is to hug a tree (or British rock) when lost or socked in and not to move until you're sure it's safe again.

There is nothing on the Camino that intimidated me anywhere near as much as that English trail. Who knew gentle England had knife edge peaks with long drops, scree and scary weather?!

As far as snow, poles and gaiters are helpful and I wouldn't go out without an emergency blanket, extra layer, gloves, good goretex shells in a bright color, hooded insulator, extra socks, snacks, water, full first aid kit, sunglasses, maps, compass, GPS and/or iPhone and backup batteries. Overkill perhaps....except for the one day you need them.

If you do day training hikes on the trails in your area, you will be more than prepared for the Camino. I can't wait to go back to the Lake District and do some "fell walking" (where did THAT expression come from? It is anything but walking!) in clear weather. I hear the views are beautiful!
The term "fell walking" could be a spin off from a Swedish/Norwegian word "fjäll" or mountains. People go wandering there and it is called "fjäll vandring".
 
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Tonylash

Member
Past OR future Camino
None
Some of the worst weather I ever experienced was in your neck of the woods on the Lake District C2C in early June. My husband and I opted out of Hellvelyn, which is known to be pretty intimidating. But even on a lower ridge, horizontal hail blew in out of nowhere with dense fog and screaming winds. We crawled behind a big boulder on top and waited for a break in the thick fog before carefully picking our way from cairn to cairn, sure we were going to take a tumble all the way to the bottom. We got to a cabin at the first break off the peak to shelter from the wind. A few minutes later, a couple of women found their way to our spot and said they had followed my red jacket through the fog.

The blind leading the blind....and our guardian angels worked overtime yet again.

By the way, for the critics out there...it was clear weather when starting out and didn't get bad until we were nearly on top. I've done a fair bit of mountaineering and winter through hiking and had full spring weather gear. Weather changes, things happen. But the best rule is to hug a tree (or British rock) when lost or socked in and not to move until you're sure it's safe again.

There is nothing on the Camino that intimidated me anywhere near as much as that English trail. Who knew gentle England had knife edge peaks with long drops, scree and scary weather?!

As far as snow, poles and gaiters are helpful and I wouldn't go out without an emergency blanket, extra layer, gloves, good goretex shells in a bright color, hooded insulator, extra socks, snacks, water, full first aid kit, sunglasses, maps, compass, GPS and/or iPhone and backup batteries. Overkill perhaps....except for the one day you need them.

If you do day training hikes on the trails in your area, you will be more than prepared for the Camino. I can't wait to go back to the Lake District and do some "fell walking" (where did THAT expression come from? It is anything but walking!) in clear weather. I hear the views are beautiful!
Hi Purple Backpack , I posted some photos last year of the area you are talking about . They are in the section of " where did you walk last year" titled Helvellyn Range . I thought they were quite nice , regards Tony
 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Winter is a wonderful time to walk but you must be prepared!

To begin your research/planning do check the helpful posts/links in this recent forum thread.

Enjoy the planning and Buen camino!

Oh! I very much enjoyed your blog about your various winter walks! I'm surprised I've never seen it before!
And I'm stealing your Ralph Waldo Emerson quote!
Thanks so much for those links!
 

Dan

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013
Le Puy 2014
Pennine Way 2015
Del Norte 2016
Arles Route 2018
Way St Francis 2019
November to mid-December 2008 was my first camino. It was often cold and there was lots of snow in the mountains. Few albergues had central heating ("Calefaccione??" we’d ask in pleading tones at the door) but only a few had neither central heating nor a real fire - which was really the essential thing. It was only the unrelenting wet-cold of Galicia that made any inroads into our morale - and that was later.
https://flic.kr/p/5PSQGc This pic was taken a couple of hours after leaving Rabanal where it had been about minus 5C the evening before. All the snow had turned to ice and walking up or down the village hill was a precarious business. The day before, we arrived at Pilar’s place (the only albergue open in the village) about lunchtime. It was snowing hard and there was some debate as to whether it would be possible to find the way up to Foncebadon, even on the road. So Pilar suggested we eat (great plates of pasta and tomato sauce) and see if the weather improved. Then some elderly locals came in and there followed a great discussion of the weather and whether it would be possible to walk to Foncebadon or not. At some point during the proceedings an unmarked bottle of a golden liquid started being handed around. After a while the conversation became more hypothetical and less leaning towards a practical testing of the options. Later in the dark we all slid clumsily over the ice to the church for the Gregorian chanting. Renovations were taking place and we were placed on a temporary platform overlooking the exposed earthen floor of the church, where a number of skeletons were visible. Even so, I think we all slept well that night. The next morning we said goodbye to the Austrian who had walked this far in sandals and socks, and who would go no further. Others with trainers took up Pilar’s offer of having their feet and lower legs wrapped up with bin liners and bound with sticky tape.
For all of us who’d met over the preceding couple of weeks, it was our first camino and none of us really knew what to expect or how dangerous or otherwise this adventure might be. In fact some of our compadres had gone ahead to Manjarin (which had no electricity or other such comforts) and been snowed in for a couple of days - and seemed all the more exhilrated by the experience.
I’d thought this winter camino would all be a time of solitary reflection in a bleak forbidding landscape. Not at all. The people I met along the way - for whom I blame much - led me into a life of practical jokes, alcoholic consumption, snowball fights, giggling at snorers after lights-out, absurd mirth, incredible generosity (on their part) and deep deep affection. And a lot of that was definitely to do with the season and the kinds of people it attracts.
https://flic.kr/p/5PTcgX
Hi Tom - we're sitting here going crazy because we can't get over there to do a Camino. Thought we'd look up the idea of going in winter - and take the chance of not being able to get back into Australia. Just saw your post. Wonderful stuff. Thanks.
Dan
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Past OR future Camino
.
Hi Tom - we're sitting here going crazy because we can't get over there to do a Camino. Thought we'd look up the idea of going in winter - and take the chance of not being able to get back into Australia. Just saw your post. Wonderful stuff. Thanks.
Dan
Dan, you're welcome! Thank you for retrieving that post and reminding me of a special time.
I may be stuck in UK now on a gloomy December evening, but I'm virtually on the camino, following the progress of a compadre who started in Arles at the end of October. He should be in Oloron in a couple of days and then heading up and over Somport. He seems to think I'm a source of useful information, so we swap notes daily - and he's seen the pics of the snow at Canfranc that Vacajoe posted a couple of days ago. So looks like it's all about to get quite tasty up there (say I, from the comfort of a warm home). Sadly for him, there've been practically no other pilgrims around - but interesting times nonetheless...
Maybe you'll get over this way next year?
 

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