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Women alone

#1
Greetings everyone,
I'm trying to collect as much advice as possible regarding women doing the Camino on their own (Leon-Santiago leg) this summer. I understand you meet a lot of people on the way, but that's not quite the same as going with a companion. What should I expect? How can I make the experience as safe as possible?
Many thanks,
anapilgrim
 

gb

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 Le Puy en Velay > Santiago; 2012 Seville > Santiago
#2
I suggest you have alook at this site:

http://www.webcompostella.com/#

and click on "acceder au forum" and then "témoignages femmes seules sur le chemin ".

This will give you several opinions by women who have done the pilgrimage alone. In summary they are all very enthusiastic, had no fears and enjoyed it.

The site is in French, bien sur!

gb
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#3
Hola anapilgrim,
Many women have walked alone - and written about it. Nancy Frey wrote "Pilgrim Stories" - Sue Kenny wrote a book - http://www.suekenny.ca.
You will be safe alone. Just take the normal care that you would in large cities.
Have a wonderful camino.
St Gilda's pilgrimage prayer:-
May my roads all lie plain before me,
Whether I climb the rugged heights of mountains,
Or descend the hollow depths of valleys,
Or trudge the lengthy roads op open country,
Or struggle through the thickets of dense forest:
May I walk always in straight ways and shining
To longed-for places . . .”
 
#4
woman walking alone

I just finished walking the camino in October 2004, and as a woman who walked alone, I never felt safer. Most of the people you will walk with stay at the same Albergues every night, so you will become a close knit group of 20-50 people. You will never have to walk alone if you don't want to and you will always be surrounded by kind and caring people.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#5
anapilgrim, I'm a man who walked alone from paris to santiago, and it was only a couple times in Western France when I was completely alone that I felt glad I was a guy.

The other posters are right, inside Spain there's no problem being a woman alone, in fact you will never even be alone unless you want to be, you will be able to find excellent travelling companions with great ease. :)

Nancy Frey's experiences are a good starting point, she did the Camino on her own, then spent one summer as a Hospitalero (working in the refuges), which is when I met her.
 
#6
The following was posted today on the caminosantiago.com forum. It has been rare - and I don't know if this is a potential change for the worse on the Camino Frances, but women alone should be aware -
**********************************************************************
From: Emily

It's been six weeks since I've read the forum as I have just returned from walking the camino. Yes, it is as great ...or even better!....as everyone said it would be!!

However, I feel like I need to tell other people about safety on the trail and my experiences. I am sure this will depress many of you. I was attacked by a man on the trail in Galicia (not a pilgrim....he jumped out of the woods...nobody was around) and robbed. He covered my mouth and nose so that I could not breathe while he demanded money. Other than a bruised arm I was not really hurt. He just wanted my money. I gave it to him.

Of course the beautiful thing is that I was immediately lifted up by numerous fellow pilgrims. They helped me talk to the police. They comforted me and accompanied me for the rest of the trip. I talked many hours with a wonderful Spaniard, Juan, who made me realize it was not my problem--the problem is the thief's.

Unfortunately it was not the only incident. I was walking on a lonely road and a man in a car pulled up and asked if I would have sex for money. There was nobody around. Luckily he drove off when I refused, but I know of another woman who was very worried because a man (a different one) actually got out of the car and was urging her to get in.

I have to say that one of my favorite things was walking by myself, and I don't know if I could do it again. However, I did feel that each day was a complete blessing from God and I know he walked with me the whole time. Emily
 

Jim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006- Camino Portuguese
2008- Camino Frances
2009- Sanabres extension of the VDLP
2010- Camino Frances
2011- Camino Potuguese
2014- Camino Frances
2017- Camino Finisterre
#7
Who were these attackers/harrassers?

Out of curiosity, I'd like to know if Emily's attackers were native Spaniards, gypsies, transients, or other Europeans or North Americans? Middle aged men, young guys?

I already have several women in my own family and work associates ready to do the pilgrimage in 2007, pending my reports. This kind of thing dampens everyones spirits.
 

saks

New Member
#9
When I walked in 04, there was a Spanish guy (we thought he was a native) who stood in the middle of a mountain, and harrassing women. And, as a woman walking alone, I later learned there were quite a few other women who witnessed the same guy and had been victims, and that he was choosing women who didn't understand much Spanish. At the same time, I learned an English woman found somebody who could translate for her, and told that to police.
I have been told that Spanish government has pretty strict laws against those who harrass pilgrims... maybe someone knows about it?
 
#10
I have walked the Camino Frances three times, in 2000, 2003, and 2005, from Roncesvalles to Santiago. (I'm a mid-50s female who walked with a female friend about the same age) Maybe the third time is a charm, because last year was the first time we had no incidents. Or maybe we just got a bit smarter. The first two times there were a number of flashers and a few grabbers -- not to trivialize this, because I was terrified, but these guys were not dangerous. The last time, we saw nothing untoward, and maybe it's because the numbers of pilgrims have increased so much. These kinds of things tend to happen in remote parts of the Camino (after the reservoir at Logrono, between Estella and Los Arcos, in the woods near Monte de Gozo) and as more and more people come, the opportunities fade for those looking to terrorize people walking alone. All in all, I agree with the other posters that the Camino is one of the safest places in the world, and there is no need to be afraid. If you're walking along, when you sense that you're entering a remote place or if you're feeling uncertain, just stop walking and wait for people to come along and walk with them. I hesitated to add my experiences because I don't want to dissuade people or dampen their spirits, but it is important to be alert and bring your street smarts with you.
 
#11
Hi,

I walked in 2003 and felt safe for most of the way. There was one time on the leg up to Cebreiro when a car pulled over and the driver made some lewd comments but I got rid of him fairly quickly. I was alone on the road though as I had taken the slightly easier way the bikers usually take. I was worried but not frightened.
My other scare was silly really, I was alone in the woods on the lap to San Juan de Ortega. I was utterly alone, turned a bend in the forest path and came face to face with a man holding a rifle. My blood turned to ice for a second before I realised he was a hunter. He said hola, I said hola and I walked on. A non-event really and I laughed about it a few minutes later but it was startling.

I remember that a woman, I think it was in El Burgo Ranero, claimed she had been robbed or attacked. But there was a lot of confusion about her story and it seemed that few people believed her. As I don't speak spanish, I didn't exactly know what was going on though but there were comments made that her story was fanciful for some reason or other. My apologies for the lack of details. Maybe someone else recalls?

In conclusion, I'm a scaredy-cat city-bred girl and while I was often worried on the camino about a lot of things, I felt very seldomly unsafe. Even though I walked wast stretches on my own, I always knew there were pilgrims behind me.
To be fair, I did carry a pocket knife (whatever good that might do) and a whistle, just in case. My money was hidden under my clothes although I always kept some in my pocket and I carried a big stick. :wink:
 

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