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Here follows a breakdown of the type of terrain that you are likely to encounter on the Camino Walking Holiday between Le Puy and Santiago. We have gone into some detail because at over 1000 miles, this walking holiday is longer than most and covers a variety of terrain. For details of the terrain on the other routes that we offer, please refer to the walk in question
During the first part, the Via Podiensis (from Le Puy to the French border), the route crosses the highlands of the Massif Central - Aubrac, the Causses – which have a rugged climate of hot summers, cold and wet autumns. The itinerary continues across the green pastures of the Southwest and the Pays Basque with a climate that is gentler but damper.
736 kms/460 miles long, starting in Le Puy-en-Velay, passing through Conques, Figeac, Cahors, Moissac, Aire-sur-l’Adour and Navarrenx before it reaches the border town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Takes on average 4 - 5 weeks to walk the entire route. Well-waymarked throughout (in both directions) as the GR65, with the red and white balises (waymarking) of the French Grande Randonée network.
The terrain is very varied but can be strenuous and rarely flat, starting in the volcanic Velay region, with constant ups and downs, passing through the mountainous Aubrac plateau (at 1300 metres/4290 feet) before descending to the abbey at Conques. Continues through the causse (hilly limestone scrubland) to Cahors and then through undulating farmland to Moissac and on to the Basque country in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Height gains and losses are listed for each day under Walks; or for a height profile of the route go to www.godesalco.com/iphp/perfil.php
The route is normally practicable (though not necessarily recommended) throughout the year. There is snow in the Aubrac and the Pyrenees in winter and early spring, the central part of the route is extremely hot in summer and there can be a lot of rain in the Basque country in the spring. April-June and September-October are recommended.
The Camino Frances (the 'French Route') refers to the path between the frontier with France and Santiago de Compostela itself. Officially it begins at Puente la Reina, meeting point of the routes from Le Puy and Arles, continuing to Logrono, capital of the Rioja region, before entering the Meseta, the vast Spanish plateau, where shade is a rarity. Beyond Leon, the pilgrim negotiates two passes (La Cruz de Yerro and O Cebreiro) before reaching green Galicia, and finally, Santiago.
Some 778 kms/486 miles long, starting either in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (“St. John at the Foot of the Pass”) on the French side of both the mountains and the border or 27 kms/17 miles further on in Roncesvalles (Roncevaux in French, the “Valley of Thorns”) in Spain. It passes through Pamplona, Puente la Reina, Estella, Logroño, Burgos, León, Astorga, Ponferrada and Sarria before it reaches Santiago, the “City of the Apostle”, in the western reaches of Galicia. The route takes, on average, 4 - 5 weeks to walk. The route is extremely well-waymarked throughout (but only in one direction) with yellow arrows painted on rocks, trees, buildings etc, as well as with plaques and signposts bearing stylised shell symbols and the council of Europe Milky Way logos.
The terrain is varied, beginning with the ascent and/or descent of the Pyrenees then passing through the undulating meseta (tableland) of the central part of the route between Burgos and León. After that the camino enters the Montes de León with some of its abandoned villages gradually coming back to life before entering Galicia, green, wooded and criss-crossed with old walled lanes. Height gains and losses are listed for each day under Walks; or for a height profile of the route go to www.godesalco.com/iphp/perfil.php
The route is normally practicable (though not necessarily recommended) throughout the year. It is likely to snow in the Pyrenees, the Montes de Oca (before Burgos) and parts of the Montes de León and Galicia in winter and early spring. It also rains heavilly in Navarre at that time and you can, unfortunately, expect torrential rain in Galicia at any time of the year, even during July and August. Most parts of the route are extremely hot in the summer. April-June and September-October are recommended. The Camino Portugues is the route to Santiago from Porto in Portugal. The waymarking consists of yellow arrows, which are plentiful from the Cathedral at Porto to the Portuguese border, thanks to the efforts of the Associacão dos Amigos do Caminho Portugues de Santiago. Sometimes these marks are accompanied by blue marks pointing towards Porto, indicating the route from Santiago to Porto and thence Fatima. Around Barcelos and to the north of Tui, red and white marks of the GR11-E9 also appear. The yellow arrows showing the route through Galicia are supplemented with granite pillars giving the distance to Santiago.
The camino heads north from Porto following the Atlantic coastal ship and, as several rias are crossed, presents an interesting if undulating journey. Country districts comprise of mixed farms and smallholdings interspersed with pine and eucalyptus forests. As the camino follows the obvious transport corridor connecting Porto - Valenca - Tui - Pontevedra - Santiago - Lugo -A Coruña, it inevitably makes contact with national roads. The current route has been realigned to minimise contact with major roads but often joins these roads at the entrance and exit of cities and towns.
Northern Portugal and Galicia are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean resulting in a changeable maritime climate. Westerly winds ensure a generous rainfall, hence the references to 'Green Portugal and Green Spain'. During periods of low pressure, rainfall can be heavy and prolonged and walkers should be adequately prepared. Spring is a rewarding time to experience cool weather and fresh growth, whilst early auturm is regarded as being fairly dry and settled. Summer can be hot with periods of high humidity and facilities are usually crowded during the peak holiday months.
Nutters Wood Cottage
(44) (0)1242 254353
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