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Winter on the Via de la Plata

S

Stephen McLoughlin

Guest
#1
Hello everybody!

I'm going to be starting the Via de la Plata in the last week in January from Seville...

Am I crazy? I only decided at two this morning...

Any tips or experiences would be most welcome...

I have a flexible window...Should I leave it to start by another week or is there any point...?

It's my third Camino but my first walking in Winter and I will be travelling on my own...

I don't expect it to be easy, I don't want it to be easy but I don't want to attempt it if it's impossible to finish because of weather...


Many thanks Pilgrims!

Stephen
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Future? Levante-VDLP-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
#2
Yes, you are bonkers. But boy that could be fun! At least you will be hitting Galicia in March. Prepare for possible snow in Sanabria. And you do have the opportunity to buy extra gear in Merida and Salamanca if you find you are freezing.
 
S

Stephen McLoughlin

Guest
#3
B
Yes, you are bonkers. But boy that could be fun! At least you will be hitting Galicia in March. Prepare for possible snow in Sanabria. And you do have the opportunity to buy extra gear in Merida and Salamanca if you find you are freezing.
Bonkers I should or bonkers I shouldn't???
 
S

Stephen McLoughlin

Guest
#7
All going well, I'll reach Sanabria in the first week in March, Spring should be well on it's way by then(he says hopefully!)
 
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Future? Levante-VDLP-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
#8
Waterproof boots - there will be a lot of mud in Galicia! And there will be a few stream crossings along the way...
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#9
Hello everybody!

I'm going to be starting the Via de la Plata in the last week in January from Seville...

Am I crazy? I only decided at two this morning...

Any tips or experiences would be most welcome...

I have a flexible window...Should I leave it to start by another week or is there any point...?

It's my third Camino but my first walking in Winter and I will be travelling on my own...

I don't expect it to be easy, I don't want it to be easy but I don't want to attempt it if it's impossible to finish because of weather...


Many thanks Pilgrims!

Stephen
You are not the only crazy one, I am flying the 3rd February to Sevilla and start walking the 6th February, so perhaps we will meet? Looking at historical weather data rain is certainly on our pilgrims menu ;-) I prepare also for moderate cold and plan in enough time to not be stressed out by flight back date. Buen Camino! SY
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#10
I can't really advise but wish you well! Sounds much more appealing than when I walked it in the heat but then I'm prob. bonkers too.
I'd take a high-visibility vest (you know, fluorescent yellow) for when you have to walk along roads. In fact we were handed one by the local police last Summer as part of a 'safety campaign', they're very light.
Otherwise, dressing in layers, rain protection and plenty of socks as they take longer to dry (imo).
Very exciting! Buen camino :)
 

Kialoa3

Active Member
#11
Finished the VdlP a couple of days ago. Weather wise it was sunny and dry for almost the entire journey. We did have a week of cold foggy days, and we had two days with some scattered light showers and that was it. Now sitting in Santiago where today's temperature is forecasted to reach 65 F. This has definitely been an unusually warm early winter. Will this warm trend continue? Who knows, but it is definitely quite mild right now. Rain is in the forecast (no surprise there), but the locals are quite happy as this has been a very dry year so far. I was told that Orense had been considering water rationing as the reservoirs are so low.
 
#12
Winter 2014 I walked Sevilla-Salamanca leaving on February 10th. We had to cross lots of arroyos (just keep you boots /shoes on) but it was not cold. I wore a thin wool thermal t-shirt and light jacket (plus poncho if rainy) and had no problem.
Look at the list I helped compile in the Resourse Section as I marked when albergues are closed.

Per a Camino friend's account this February was much beter without the need to cross overflowing arroyos but for sure be prepared for rain.

It was my first winter Camino and for sure hope to repeat.
 

purplesage

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais, Finisterre and Muxia (2012) , Camino Portuguese 2014, Camino Inglese 2015, Camino Muxia 2015, Incomplete part of CF 2015 ... will hopefully finish later this year
#13
Bonkers???? That's a great thing to be. Man, are you in for a time of your life!!! My two cents.... socks, socks socks and more socks. Nothing more refreshing than to slip into a dry pair. Keep your socks in a plastic bag so they stay dry. Waterproof boots ... yes of course. Oh yes.... pockets full of hope, inspiration and smiles. You'd be on your way. Buen Camino :)
 

ajadedmug

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015) ; de Fisterra (2008, 2009) Aragonés (2008) de San Salvador (2008) Primitivo (2008) ; del Norte (2009) ; Vía de la Plata (2013) Via Podiensis (2013), Baztanés (2016)
#14
A courageous decision Prime Minister...:).

¿Por qué no? In 2008 I left Leon on the last day of November and walked to Palas de Rei and Santiago via Oviedo on the Caminos de San Salvador and Primitivo. It was sometimes cold, sometimes very wet, and sometimes snowy. Albergues were usually unheated, I was completely alone, it got dark around 5 p.m., and sometimes it was difficult to find an open bar or shop. And I loved every minute of it...

In 2013 I walked the Vía de la Plata leaving Sevilla on 22nd March. 2013 saw some of the wettest Winter and Spring weather in Spain for three quarters of a century. It snowed heavily in Saint Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles in the middle of May. I was expecting clement conditions in Andalucía and Estremadura (and thus had clothing and a sleeping bag that were too light) but ended up having something closer to what you may experience at the time you propose.

If there is a great deal of rain, you may have to take socks and boots off, put sandals on and walk through swollen streams. Some albergues may not be well heated (I think this is now generally the exception on the Camino Francés in winter), and if they have a washing machine, they may not have a tumble drier, which is an important consideration. As you know, a hardy pilgrim can take whatever the weather sends while walking, but once finished walking needs to be able to have clothes washed and dried before the next day's walking.

If I were you I would research the availability and facilities of the albergues along the route using http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es. Things change quickly along the Way, and there may be more infrastructure available in the albergues (and indeed more albergues) than when I walked it nearly three years ago. Although the Camino Sanabrés option (instead of walking via Astorga) would normally be preferred by a pilgrim who has already done the Camino Francés, the Sanabrés may be a tougher option in Winter. However, taking the Sanabrés will bring you through Ourense which has a wonderful Romanesque cathedral with a portico to rival Santiago's. Moreover the statuary is polychromatic and not covered with scaffolding (at least it wasn't in 2013) as Santiago's has been since 2008!

I think what you propose is completely doable (do check albergue availability now) and that you will have a lot of fun, provided you have the right gear.

¡Buen Camino!
 
#15
Re heating in the albergues in the winter: There was always some type of heating when I walked in February, usually portable electric heaters. I took a very light sleeping bag and that was sufficient with the occasional blanket.

Re wading through the rivers: I found that keeping my shoes on was the most practical option. After 5-10 minutes of swish, swish the water was out and I never got a blister. My walking companion first took his off but after a few times gave up (it is a real hassle) and followed my lead. No problems.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#16
... Re wading through the rivers: I found that keeping my shoes on was the most practical option. After 5-10 minutes of swish, swish the water was out and I never got a blister. ...
Now you have me a wee bit concerned! How did are those rivers? SY
 

ajadedmug

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015) ; de Fisterra (2008, 2009) Aragonés (2008) de San Salvador (2008) Primitivo (2008) ; del Norte (2009) ; Vía de la Plata (2013) Via Podiensis (2013), Baztanés (2016)
#17
In fairness, I wrote, 'Some albergues may not be well heated' and the italicised use of a modal verb having as its meaning 'possibility' clearly indicated a statement of a tentative nature i.e. I suggested that some of the time there may not be heating :). You wrote in reply, 'There was always some type of heating when I walked in February', but I respectfully suggest that what you say is only valid for the subset of albergues that reflected your daily choice of overnight stopping point and albergue. What I wrote and suggested is valid for those albergues I stayed in in 2013. Which is not to say that now in 2015, all albergues along the route do not have some form of heating.

When I stayed in the Albergue de Castilblanco de los Arroyos, there were a few portable electric radiators which helped to dry clothes on a very damp and rainy day, but which could not make up for the absence of a tumble drier and were a little overwhelmed by the need to dry clothes. This albergue also had no available blankets so I had to sleep in my clothes in my one season Gelert sleeping bag: I did not sleep well. In the Albergue Municipal El Realejo in El Real de La Jara, there were blankets but no heating except for an open fire in the kitchen. This was very atmospheric when lit in the evening and very warming to sit in front of, but the building itself (especially the dormitory) was ice cold away from the fire. There was also no drying rack to dry clothes once a fire was lit. This albergue appears to have electric heaters now (http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-municipal-el-realejo-en-el-real-de-la-jara), but there were certainly none in March 2013.

There is also a modern, private albergue in El Real de La Jara which has heating, a washer and a tumble dryer. I'd refer anyone reading this to what was implicit in my original post (which I also said was based on experience of the route from nearly three years ago): that is, in a season where you cannot depend upon being able to hand wash and dry clothes outside, knowing which albergues in which locations have heating, washing machines and tumble driers (or are even open) is a prudent part of the planning process. Having a light sleeping bag in winter is possible in albergues where blankets are plentiful, but may be inadequate in other situations where there are no blankets. Some people prefer to travel light and accept occasional discomfort. Others prefer to carry heavier packs (with more clothes and heavier sleeping bags) and feel secure that they will always be warm. I walked with pilgrims with four season bags and two changes of (warmer) clothing compared to my one season bag and one change of (lighter) clothing. On the Vía de la Plata in February it may be wise to have a heavier sleeping bag and more changes of clothing than one would have on, say, the Camino Francés in Spring or Autumn (or Winter for that matter) because there may be a smaller choice of albergues in which there may be less equipment and infrastructure. It ultimately comes down to choice, such choice being informed through research and canvassing the opinions of people who have experienced the route and who will have a variety of opinions and experiences.

As for a decision as to whether to remove shoes or not before fording swollen streams, Removal of shoes is simply a possibility and, of course, a personal preference. I walked with other pilgrims who all, like I did, removed their shoes and socks. There were probably some who did not. But in 2013 in March and April, it was typically not possible to cross these streams without the water coming almost up to our knees. Such weather conditions may not soon be repeated again. However, they may. On one occasion I made my own diversion off the camino to bypass one particularly bad spot. An elderly French pilgrim, however, decided to go in to nearly her waist (yes really) at the same spot sans chaussures de rando, chaussettes et pantalon. Chapeau! Those who wish to keep their shoes on may by all means do so. Chacun à son goût :).
 
#18
Oh my gosh, it goes without saying that what I write reflects my own personal experience which is, in fact, the only one I can safely talk about. What this year brings who knows.

@SYates we waded up to our knees on several ocassions, nothing more. There was one crossing that was waist high (during the first stage out of Sevilla) and it was recommended to us to take a detour which most of us did. When I arrived in Guillena I met 2 pilgrims who actually decided to do it anyway - backpack overhead!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
#19
In 2013, I had 20 days of rain and 2 days of snow on mountain passes on the VdlP in May... Was lucky enough to have some sunshine on day 23 into Santiago (Started in Salamanca). Prepare for storm, and hope for good weather.
 
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Future? Levante-VDLP-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
#20
Oh my gosh, it goes without saying that what I write reflects my own personal experience which is, in fact, the only one I can safely talk about. What this year brings who knows.

@SYates we waded up to our knees on several ocassions, nothing more. There was one crossing that was waist high (during the first stage out of Sevilla) and it was recommended to us to take a detour which most of us did. When I arrived in Guillena I met 2 pilgrims who actually decided to do it anyway - backpack overhead!
Is that the bit just before Guillena where the right path goes down to the stream and the left arrow does a big swing to the left and around the corner? I remember taking the left because I was a bit jumpy about the robberies and felt the right path would be the obvious place to ambush someone. You still need to cross the stream by the town but it should be easy enough to keep your feet dry.
 
#21
@Donna Sch I believe that we are talking about the same spot. It is called the Arroyo de los Molinos. I had heard that this might be a problem when I stopped for coffee in a café across from the ruins of Itálica after Santiponce. The café owner advised me not to cross and drew me a map on a napkin showing a detour. I am very bull-headed and so I in fact tried to see if there was any way to cross but my walking stick indicated a very deep arroyo. In the end I back-tracked about 15 minutes and took a left turn (or right coming from the arroyo) which brought me to a local highway past a gas station. I followed the signs into Guillena. This has been a trouble spot for years and the local Amigos association has been trying to get the community to build some sort of crossing. Lesson: ask before proceeding. The locals will know the current situation and give advice.
 

murraydv

Via de la Plata / Camino Sanabres
Camino(s) past & future
April 6th 2013
#22
Hello everybody!

I'm going to be starting the Via de la Plata in the last week in January from Seville...

Am I crazy? I only decided at two this morning...

Any tips or experiences would be most welcome...

I have a flexible window...Should I leave it to start by another week or is there any point...?

It's my third Camino but my first walking in Winter and I will be travelling on my own...

I don't expect it to be easy, I don't want it to be easy but I don't want to attempt it if it's impossible to finish because of weather...


Many thanks Pilgrims!

Stephen
Stephen,
Dave Murray, Cork Ireland here. I do the Via de la Plata for about 8 days (in May) each year, started in 2014 and, this year, I reached Salamanca. Going back to continue in May 2016. I like the heat, as well as the long days. In your case, it is not just the weather but also the relatively dark days and the shorter daylight hours. You are an experienced Camino walker and that will stand to you. One thing to note is that the Via de la Plata is not the most travelled Camino and, if you are used to seeing many other Pilgrims along the way on other Caminos, you will not see many on the Via de la Plata. Sometimes, you might walk long stretches for many hours without seeing anybody, until you arrive in a village / town. So, while I don't know a lot about the January weather, one piece of advice that I would give you (given that you are walking alone) is to make sure that somebody knows where you are and make an arrangement to check in with them to let them know that you have arrived at your destination in the evening. You don't want to break an ankle and be stranded!
I also don't know if you will have the same choice of albergues / hostels at that time of year. You can research that on the web.
You should also check out the January weather on the web. I just took a look at Salamanca (as it is about half way). January................average temperature 4C / 39F (low 0C / high 8C), Sunrise hours 7 hours, chance of rain 39%, chance of fog 39%, chance of snow 9%.
And I would definitely use walking poles, especially in January. They take a lot of pressure off the joints and will possibly save you a few falls along the way.
One final point, but I am sure you are an experienced walker, is that there are some spots where it is all to easy to take a wrong turn. On one day this year, I had one stretch that was supposed to be 35 klm and I ended up walking 50 klm. Had it been January, I would have been in some difficulty with darkness.
Go for it, life is about challenges. You are not crazy, but plan well for your journey.
Buen Camino.
Dave
david.murray@fmc.com
 
#24
I walked from Sevilla a long time ago in Feb and March, the weather was up and down. When I reached the first arrroyo a four wheel car turned up at the same time. Round Galisteo and Carcabaso it was very cold ,wet and windy and was advised to get the bus to Aldeanueva del Camino which I did so missed this section. Also at Banos de Montemayor the next day it snowed and again the locals said do not walk and get the bus to Salamanca and then carry on to Santiago. I did go back to finish this section.
I usually walk in winter and do listen to locals but the weather is the unknown.
 
#25
While I was looking for something else I ran across a website dealing with Mountain Marathon running.
These guys use ultra lightweight gear for all conditions and always willing to learn from other disciplines.
One of the discussions was footwear - waterproof or not?
The consensus for them was not as running (walking) keeps feet warm and shoes are designed to expel water by running (walking) action.
That said my choice for winter walking would still be boots and gaiters. If I cant hop across quickly without a bootfull of water then boots and socks off and wear something like Crocs to wade across. I would also be using poles to give me extra stability.
 
#26
Hi,
I am currently on the camino and here are some tips and updates.

Update on practical info:
1. In the resources albergue list, the address of Casa salvadora in Castiblanco is wrong: It should read: Avda España 43
2. The hospitalera of municipal Albergue at Almaden de la plata has changed. The new hospitalera is Nieves who lives a few step up at Nº 7. Contact info: 651 070 813. It is open all year round and equipped with kitchen.
3. The municipal albergue at Monesterio is closed from 20 Dec 2015 to 10 Jan 2016.

Minor tips and info.

Start from Sevilla a bit early. There are things to see on the way.
Some arrows after the river crosssing to Camas are misdirecting. So be cautious.

Dont forget to visit Monastery of Isidur, jsut before Italica. The entrance is kind of hidden. Just follow the wall. Its around the corner. Has some nice murals and the entrance is free.

Just after to the right is the path to Roman theater. Just have a look. Take time to visit Italica.

During the roadwalk to Almaden, there is no place to stop in between. Once you enter the parke natural, there is some kind of agri/forest office building, where you could find drinking water, just in case needed to refill. Even though there is no benches, it has a roofed garage and you could have your lunch there.

The last part to Almaden de la Plata is being upgraded to accessible path using stones and dirt. So, unless it has been settled by rain, it will be dusty and in the first few rains muddy. So, be prepared. (I passed through there last week and at the end, I was covered in yellow/orange dust). The descent part is being paved and hence they may block some parts for the construction work.

On the way to Real de Jara, look out for some dogs (farm dogs or otherwise). They all turned out to be harmless, but an unknown giant dog charging towards you barking is not a happy sight. Just bend down and pick up a piece of stone while they are watching you. They understand the signal and keep their distance. There are also some other dogs which walk down with you for some time wagging their tail.

In Fuente de cantos, everything seems to be closed with no notice. Even the tourist info center.

Please, the persons updating the resource list take a note and make necessary changes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#29
I think we'll be leaving from Merida on February 18th, so I hope you'll be able to post some updates here before we leave. Good luck!
 

nalod

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2011, Finnesterre 2011,Le Puy to SJPDP 2011& 2012,Via de la Plata,Sambrasa 2012, Mozarabe 2013, Portugees 2013.PartNorde 2011, VDPL 2014,St-Guilhem 2014.Espalion-Roncesvalles 2014.Levante2015
#30
Stephen good luck, you will enjoy it. I have done it in February -March before on two occasions and very likely I will be there this year in early Feb. One year dry (magic) one year wet, a bit of a pain crossing the streams but still a great experience. Mornings and evenings can be cold a woolly hat an gloves useful. You can have a look at some of my photographs might give you a feel for things. http://www.caminogallery.com/gallery/?id=7&area=9 and my blog http://www.dermotdolan.blogspot.ie/2014/04/via-de-la-plata-2014-photographs-work.html
Regards Dermot (Nalod)
 
#31
Just updated the guide - version January 2016 https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/resources/vía-de-la-plata-sanabrés-walking-accommodation-guide-version-august-2015.408/update?update=341

Pay no attention to the title (version August 2015). It is hot off the press.

Buen Camino!
Hi,
And very grateful for your work.

I have a few days holiday coming (14th to 25th February) and I am taking myself to Sevilla (via Malaga) on 14th February.

I have walked the VdP from Sevilla to Salamanca (2013) but that was during April/May when the weather was very favourable.

However I am now in possession of old knees that are no longer fit for hiking I am considering renting a bike and cycling to Merida possibly Caceres before taking a train back to Sevilla.

I would be grateful to those list members who have done this trip by bicycle if they could give advice on cycle routes, equipment, etc. Also, if you know, is the weather suitable for cycling?

many thanks,
Arthur Loughran



and am looking forward to covering the ground again

Any information on cycle
 
#32
@Donna Sch I believe that we are talking about the same spot. It is called the Arroyo de los Molinos.
Hi,
I will be cycling to Merida (starting 16th Feb from Seville). I have walked the route before (in April 2012) and managed to cross over the arroyo via a makeshift collection of logs and branches some kind person(s) had constructed on the right hand side through some trees. However I have been checking on Google maps and it appears as if a proper (concrete?) bridge has been built. Can any list member confirm this?

Google Maps also shows what appears to be another crossing along the arroyo to the left of the "main" route. Has any list member used that crossing?

Thanks,
Arthur Loughran
 
S

Stephen McLoughlin

Guest
#33
Hello all!

Thanks everyone for your tips...meant to do this before but life, y'know!

I walked the Via de la Plata in Winter '16 (can't believe it's a year ago!) and I have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life (the adventures!!!) and my favourite Camino so far...loved the isolation and the sheer size of it all...

here are my photos:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153379213577215.1073741841.548777214&type=1&l=43fbaee5a2

I'm only on here because I'm looking for tips for the Lycian Way in Feb '18!

I'm also walking El Norte in the Autumn of this year which I'm really looking forward to but it will be tough to top my Via de la Plata experience...(I'll have to compensate with copious amounts of seafood and wine!)

Thanks again Pilgrims!!!

P.S. I forgot how good these forums are..

P.P.S. I wish I could meet more people in my everyday life who were more Camino oriented...I might not have to walk (escape) so much!
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés April 06, C. Fisterre May 06, C. Frances Oct 17, C. Portuguese Oct 18, C. Inglese Nov 18
#35
Hello everybody!

I'm going to be starting the Via de la Plata in the last week in January from Seville...

Am I crazy? I only decided at two this morning...

Any tips or experiences would be most welcome...

I have a flexible window...Should I leave it to start by another week or is there any point...?

It's my third Camino but my first walking in Winter and I will be travelling on my own...

I don't expect it to be easy, I don't want it to be easy but I don't want to attempt it if it's impossible to finish because of weather...


Many thanks Pilgrims!

Stephen
Hi Stephen. Did you walk in January in the end??? Interested to hear how it was.
 

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