Camino del Norte – The Camino Way
A New Adventure – The walk of a lifetime
I created physical endurance challenges for myself when I turned 50 (a 50-mile run) and 60 (a 600-mile bike ride), but I don’t want to wait until I’m 70 for the next great adventure, so I am planning to walk the Camino de Compostela for my 65th birthday. The trek takes at least one month, so I’ll start before my birthday and celebrate somewhere along the way. There are many ways and many paths to walk the Camino, I am choosing the Northern route… Camino del Norte.
Don’t worry…I’ll still do something crazy for my 70th birthday! Mark your calendars to be in Long Beach, Ca. September 16-17, 2028
The Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte is an 865 km (537 mile) route across Spain which takes 30~35 days of walking. It crosses four regions: the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia. The scenery on the Camino is fantastic, unspoiled sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, emerald meadows, the Atlantic Ocean, beautiful historic cities, towns, and lush green forests. This route is a great alternative to the popular French Camino. Both routes run parallel across northern Spain; del Norte follows the coast, and the French Way is an inland route.
The Northern Way of St. James is a spectacular combination of beautiful coastline passing beaches, fishermen’s villages, green mountains, pastures, and lush forest. This Camino is also known as one of the toughest routes of the Camino de Santiago due to its mountainous terrain with frequent climbs and drops.
Even though the northern route is more challenging, I like that it offers ‘s beautiful scenery, access to some famous cities, and is less crowded than the more popular French Camino.
Tentative dates: I am leaving extra days at the start and finish to provide flexibility – I’ll update this page when final dates are set
Depart Los Angeles: August 15th
Arrive Paris: August 16th
Start walking: August 21st
End: September 25~27
Return to Los Angeles: Oct 1st
Getting There and Back Again…
Fly to Paris from LAX (Los Angeles).
Once in Paris I plan to travel by train to Bayonne, France – The trip is approx. 4 hours. From Bayonne, I’ll take another train to Irun, Spain (45 minutes). From what I’ve seen it’s much cheaper to stop in Bayonne, then take another train to Irun. Besides, it might be nice to spend a day or two in Bayonne to get in the Euro mood before starting a month-long walk.
And to get back… There are cheap flights from Santiago de Compostela to Paris.
Friends and family are welcome to join me on my walk. You can walk the entire path, meet me in a beautiful town or village, or walk with me for a few days. Part of the Camino adventure is meeting people along the way. During the walk I expect to meet new people and make new friends. People are drawn to the walk from all over the world, but I also hope to be joined by family and old friends. The way and I welcome you. Join me on the path. Contact me if you’d like to join.
The Walk – Daily Stages
Below is a 30-day plan that begins in Irun, Spain near the French border and ends in Santiago de Compostela. I plan to take several extra days, so I have time to explore cities like Santander and Bilbao and have flexibility to take a rest day or simply linger in a beautiful village. I also plan to stay at a friend’s family hotel in Villaviciosa which might add an extra day or so depending on the quality of their beer. My idea is to discover ‘the way’ as I walk without a set schedule or the need to rush. My desire is to savor the experience and enjoy the journey.
- The Camino del Norte route overview
- Irún, the start of the Camino route
- Day 1. Irún – San Sebastián, 27km/17 miles
- Day 2. San Sebastián – Getaria, 26km/16 miles
- Day 3. Getaria – Deba, 19km/12 miles
- Day 4. Deba – Markina-Xemein, 25km/15,5 miles
- Day 5. Markina-Xemein – Guernica, 25km/15,5 miles
- Day 6. Guernica – Bilbao, 33km/20,5 miles
- Day 7. Bilbao – Pobeña, 26km/16 miles
- Day 8. Pobeña – Castro Urdiales (Cantabria), 23km/14 miles
- Day 9. Castro Urdiales – Laredo, 30km/18,6 miles
- Day 10. Laredo – Güemes, 30km/18,6 miles
- Day 11. Güemes – Santa Cruz de Bezana, 25km/15,5 miles
- Day 12. Santa Cruz de Bezana – Santillana del Mar, 28km/17 miles
- Day 13. Santillana del Mar – Comillas, 22km/13,6 miles
- Day 14. Comillas – Colombres (Asturias), 29km/18 miles
- Day 15. Colombres – Llanes, 23km/14,2 miles
- Day 16. Llanes – San Esteban de Leces, 34km/21 miles
- Day 17. San Esteban de Leces – Villaviciosa, 33km/20 miles
- Day 18. Villaviciosa – Gijón, 29km/18 miles
- Days 18-19. The optionally available path to Oviedo to proceed on the Camino Primitivo.
- Day 19. Gijón – San Martin de Laspra, 31km/19 miles
- Day 20. San Martín de Laspra – Soto de Luiña, 32km/20 miles
- Day 21. Soto de Luiña – Cadavedo, 20km/12,4 miles
- Day 22. Cadavedo – Piñera, 31km/19,2 miles
- Three route choices from Piñera
- Days 23-24. Choice 1 – coastal route. Piñera – Tapia de Casariego – Vilela, 47km/29 miles
- Day 23-24. Choice 2 – half inland/half coastal route. Piñera – Tol – Vilela, 48km/30 miles
- Day 23-25. Choice 3 – inland route. Piñera – Tol – Vegadeo – Abres – Mondoñedo, 80km/52 miles
- Day 25. Vilela – Mondoñedo, 30km/18,6 miles
- Day 26. Mondoñedo – Castromaior (albergue O Xistral), 23km/14 miles
- Day 27. Castromaior – Baamonde, 32km/20 miles
- Day 28. Baamonde – Sobrado dos Monxes, 40km/25 miles or 32km/20 miles
- Day 29. Sobrado dos Monxes – Arzua, 22km/13,6 miles
- Day 30. Arzua – O Pedrouzo, 20km/12,4 miles
- Day 31. O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela, 20km/12,4 miles
- Santiago de Compostela, the top of the Camino del Norte
Because the Northern route is not as heavily traveled as the popular French way, accommodations are easier to find. Instead of sleeping in hostels or albergues (a dormitory filled with bunks), it should be easier to find private pensions or hotel rooms for most nights.
I’m told there are even Herro in Galicia, like the ones pictured below and to the left where pilgrims can sleep for free. It’s a good thing I can sleep anywhere. It looks like there are plenty of options.
I’ll be checking guides and recommendations on where to stay each day. Some places I will reserve and others I will decide as I go so, I can keep my schedule flexible and unrushed.
Gastronomy on ‘The Way’
Some call the Camino del Norte the foodie’s pilgrimage. In San Sebastian you can take guided tours of pintxos bars, or tapas tours. It is highly recommended to try a Gilda, the bar snack named after the Rita Hayworth film that started the Pintxo tradition in the 1940’s. No matter if I’m eating sardines with Txakoli wine at a beach cafe, or slurping Asturian bean soup, nibbling thinly sliced Jambon, or feasting on grilled octopus, and prawn kebabs, it doesn’t sound like I’ll be losing weight on this hike!
The Northern Camino de Santiago – a 2022 route guide