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Winter Camino questions (CF)

Gumba

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF March 2018
CF Dec 2019/2020
I have posted previously and have more winter walking questions for those winter pilgrims... We are starting from SJPDP mid December.

Roncesvalles - I know only the Colegiata is open at that time of year. Can we get meals anywhere in Roncesvalles or do we need to pack dinner/breakfast from SJPdP (or Roncesvalles)?

Generally speaking are there any bars open along the way? Or will we find it hard pressed to find anything open during the day (other than the larger towns)? We walked last year in Mid March, just as everything was starting to open and managed to find something most days, but I know things were starting to open so not sure how tricky this will be.

How tricky will it be to find shops open to buy food? I went to supermarkets in larger towns easily enough but in the smaller places we usually had our evening meals at bars etc. Will there places (bars/restuarants or small supermarkets) open in Winter?

What sort of foods did you carry? Nuts wont work for us. (one vegetarian) My husband and I will be carrying food for 4 people, so this needs to be taken into account.

How hard was it to find your way when it is snowing? We are hoping to rely on memory a fair bit, just in case!

Did you start out before sunrise? Sunrise will start out at 8.30 and inch towards 9am the further along we walk and sunset 5.30-6pm.

Finally - we are thinking of taking a water coil - necessary or not? We do enjoy a morning tea - especially if we are going to find it difficult to get our beloved cafe con leche and cola cao.

We would like to stay in a mix of albergues and hotels - are many hotels open at this time?

How hard will we find it between Christmas and 3 Kings Day - I know nearly everything closes down - but will we survive lol? We will roughly be between Logrono and Leon during this time.

We were caught in a cold snap last time (across Europe) so had some experience walking in snow/sleet/hail and of course rain - so feel as though we have a bit of an understanding (will be leaving an Australian summer). 25cm of snow overnight in Zubiri! What do you think about packing snow cleats?

I know they are general questions but just hoping to get previous experiences - plus anything else I might need to know!
Thank you my friends
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
To further your research re Walking in Winter see these earlier recent threads filled with useful links and tips.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/logrono-to-burgos-in-january.50991/

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/november-december-cf.50932/

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/walking-the-camino-in-december-january.37261/

Sillydoll who is a Forum member has in her blog compiled encyclopedic information on Winter Walking.
http://amawalker.blogspot.fr/2009/10/walking-in-winter.html?m=1

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 see the snow and 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 of us 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

During past winter walks in Roncesvalles the bar and restaurant of La Poseida were usually open.

I always carried basic rations since the only shop or bar in town may NOT be open during the off season! My basics include tea bags, packets which make a cup of soup (even including croutons), firm cheese, small sausage, simple cookies and some chocolate. Often these same ingredients serve as a predawn breakfast hours before any Spanish bar would dream of opening!

I have never nor would ever walk before sunrise in winter.

For me a water coil is a must whatever the season.

Remember winter is a great time to walk, but you must be PREPARED!

Happy planning, stay safe and Buen camino!
 
Last edited:

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
Winter is a great time to walk. My only regret is we walked it 33 days. If I were to do it again I would do it in 40+ days to include some rest days. There was some very hard days with slick and muddy trails. We never had any issues in finding beds and food.
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
When I walked in winter I never started before sunrise, thus it was quite a late start compared to other times of the year. I never had trouble finding either food or accommodation, though I always had food in my bag "just in case" - muesli bars etc.
I will PM as I see you are in Australia.
Here is my blog if you are interested. Janet
http://mywintercamino.blogspot.com/
 

Gumba

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF March 2018
CF Dec 2019/2020
As always mspath, thank you for the wealth of information - both personal and shared links. I have got some answers but even more questions lol.

JF Gregory - I have no idea how you were able to walk the whole way without a break! I salute you. We have about 36 days to do the walk. Last time we walked to Roncesvalles in one day and it nearly killed us (one of my biggest achievements in life), it also set the tone for a very hard first week. This time we will stop over at Valcarlos and I am hoping it will make a big difference for us. I know it will be a tough day, but it will be a bit shorter and we will have an extra day of jetlag behind us..

jl, thank you for your PM. I love your bog and have read it several times - I have it bookmarked. I am reassured that finding food and bet has not been an issue. I have my fingers crossed that I will find a cafe con leche on most days!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
To further your research re Walking in Winter see these earlier recent threads filled with useful links and tips.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/logrono-to-burgos-in-january.50991/

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/november-december-cf.50932/

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/walking-the-camino-in-december-january.37261/

Sillydoll who is a Forum member has in her blog compiled encyclopedic information on Winter Walking.
http://amawalker.blogspot.fr/2009/10/walking-in-winter.html?m=1

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 see the snow and 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 of us 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
Hi, I will be starting my fifth Camino on October 29th in SJPP. I have never done a late autumn camino before. I have always walked in trail runners before and never with boots. My Brooks have always served me well. I would love to walk in them again but I am sure that would probably be a mistake. It seems that you always do your camino at this time of the year or later. I was wondering if you could tell me what boots you use and if you got them a size larger than normal, as I do with my trail runners. I do not want a boot that is as light as possible. I also do not want a high ankle boot. Something just up to the ankle would be fine. I have bought some really good gaiters so I am hoping that those will keep snow, slush and rain out of the boot from the top. I am also torn about getting water proof boots as I am fearful of them not breathing and getting blisters on dry days. Basically any suggestions. It seems you have either stopped adding your new Caminos to your list or you have not walked for about 4 years. Any help you have would be appreciated. I know that footwear is really personal. Also what was your second pair of shoes? I have always used Toms at night as they are so comfortable and light. Thanks so much.
During past winter walks in Roncesvalles the bar and restaurant of La Poseida were usually open.

I always carried basic rations since the only shop or bar in town may NOT be open during the off season! My basics include tea bags, packets which make a cup of soup (even including croutons), firm cheese, small sausage, simple cookies and some chocolate. Often these same ingredients serve as a predawn breakfast hours before any Spanish bar would dream of opening!

I have never nor would ever walk before sunrise in winter.

For me a water coil is a must whatever the season.

Remember winter is a great time to walk, but you must be PREPARED!

Happy planning, stay safe and Buen camino!
 

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