Camino Madrid 2020 – the Nuts & Bolts of walking in Spain

The Camino Madrid will be the first stage of my 2020 camino adventure. I am combining three main camino paths with a sprinkling of Camino Frances, Verde and del Norte for good measure, and then making it up a bit towards the end by going cross-country.

These plans always sound fabulous in theory, but it takes a fair dose of sweat and determination to find out how they work in practice. I will take each day as it comes and will be doing my best Doris Day impression as I ‘que sera sera’ through the Spanish countryside. A scary thought if you have heard me sing!

But, first things first, the Camino Madrid…

Madrid Amigos map of the Camino Madrid
Follow the yellow brick road…or the yellow arrows. Source: http://www.demadridalcamino.org/

As the name indicates the Camino Madrid starts from the city of Madrid in central Spain.

From the reading I have done, the Camino Madrid is considered to be a relatively new one. Of course, the pilgrimage path is age old and it was so little travelled that it almost fell out of consciousness until about 50 years ago when interest was revived. Maybe enthusiasts in the region could see the economic benefits of developing and promoting a camino as well as celebrating the religious journey.

My plan is to fly into Madrid early in the morning which will give me plenty of daylight hours to find my accommodation and get oriented. It may sound a little weird, but I also have quite a few boring housekeeping jobs that need doing before I set out on my 31-day stroll. These include:

  • Find a Post Office to mail some post-camino clothes to Santiago de Compostela: After spending the best part of 33 days in the same set of clothes, it is quite a deliriously happy moment when you get to pull on fresh, clean and different clothes once all the walking is done. In the past I have rewarded myself and simply bought new clothes, but I already have enough in my wardrobe and I am trying to consider the environment a little.
  • Technology: I need to buy a SIM so I can access the internet and call ahead as required. I have been advised that Orange is a good Spanish company to get data/call credit. I am open to other suggestions if you also have a recommendation.
  • Gronze - Madrid - interior-iglesia-santiago
    The Interior of the Iglesia. Source: Gronze. com

    Pilgrim’s Passport: To be eligible to stay at the low cost albergues, I must carry a pilgrim’s passport. This is shown when I arrive at each albergue, it is stamped and when I reach Santiago de Compostela I am eligible to receive my Compostela certificate proving that I have walked all the way from Madrid. Although I think my look of dishevelment and exhaustion should be proof enough in itself! In Madrid I need to collect my passport and first stamp from the Church of San Juan y Batista.

  • Research the Path: I like to do a bit of a reccie to confirm the start of the path before setting out proper. No use trying to find an elusive yellow arrow in the dim early morning when there is no one about to ask, and
  • Enjoying Madrid: I have never been to Madrid before (other than to catch a train) and I need to see it all in about 36 hours!

The official start point for the Camino Madrid is the Church of San Juan y Batista, but I understand the all-important yellow arrows don’t actually start until Plaza de Castilla. I am not sure why that is the case. My itinerary covers 12 days including:

  1. Sun 10 May – Madrid to Tres Cantos, 27 km
  2. Mon 11 May – Tres Cantos to Manzanares el Real, 27 km
  3. Tues 12 May – Manzanares el Real to Cercedilla, 23 km
  4. Wed 13 May – Cercedilla to Segovia, 30.4 km

Thu 14 May – Segovia – Rest Day, 0 km

  1. Fri 15 May – Segovia to Santa Maria la Real de Nieva, 33.3 km
  2. Sat 16 May – Santa Maria la Real de Nieva to Coca, 23.4 km
  3. Sun 17 May – Coca to Alcazarén, 26 km
  4. Mon 18 May – Alcazarén to Puente Duero, 25 km
  5. Tues 19 May – Puente Duero to Peñaflor de Hornija, 29 km
  6. Wed 20 May – Peñaflor de Hornija to Medina de Rioseco, 26 km
  7. Thu 21May – Medina de Rioseco to Villalón de Campos , 29.4 km
  8. Fri 22 May – Villalón de Campos to Granjal de Campos, 30.9 km
The amazing aqueduct in Segovia.
The amazing aqueduct in Segovia. Source: visitsegovia.com

As you can see, I have a precious rest day scheduled for Segovia. From what I have seen on the internet and heard on the camino grapevine, it is an amazing city and no doubt, one rest day (two nights) will definitely not be enough. In reality it is a bit of a shame that a rest day turns up at only day four. Normally I like to walk for a week before a rest day, but Segovia looks too good to miss.

Waymarking and Maps: I hear that this path is very clearly waymarked with the traditional yellow arrows. I have downloaded a number of maps and resources and I will try to find a good map app too. There is a wonderful sense of security to see that little red dot (me) scurrying along a GPS path in an app.

Terrain: Again, from what I have found online, I am expecting a good mix of terrain. There will be a fair bit of road (hard surface) waking, especially as I leave Madrid on day one, and the rest of the time I am expecting dirt country roads and paths. There are a couple of stiff climbing days as I make my way closer to Segovia and then it is blissfully flat or gently undulating as I near the Camino Frances in the Nort

camino de madrid - terrain and elevation
The terrain as I walk. Source: editorialbuencamino.com

Accommodation: The albergue network is strong on this path and out of the 12 nights, I aim to spend nine of those in pilgrim accommodation. This makes for a cost-effective ‘holiday’ with an average cost of €10 per night. Yes, they are often very simple and spartan establishments, but as long as I am safe, dry and the place is relatively clean, I am happy. Most times you cannot book these beds in advance and you simply turn up and hope that there is an empty one for you.

I will upgrade to a small hotel on my rest days as I like a little privacy, quiet (read: lack of snoring) and the luxury of a private bathroom.

The Spanish mountains on Camino MAdrid
And into the Spanish mountains. Source: vivecamino.com

So, that’s about it for the first stage of my 2020 Spanish stroll. I am so looking forward to the Spring flowers and lushness that, more often than not, have long faded away when you walk an Autumn camino.

Have you walked the Camino Madrid? What are your recommendations?

The elegant Plaza Mayor in Madrid.
The elegant Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Source: esmadrid.com

#caminodesantiago #buencamino #pilgrimpath #caminomadrid  #santiagodecompostela #pilgrimage  #longdistancewalking #travelinspo #Spain #madrid #segovia

35 thoughts on “Camino Madrid 2020 – the Nuts & Bolts of walking in Spain

        1. Let’s just say that night clubs do not feature on my itinerary at all! 😉 8pm and it’s lights out! The challenge is actually to get dinner at a reasonable hour as the Spanish don’t start even thinking about dinner until 10pm! Ah, the life of a pilgrim!

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  1. Oh Mel, you will love the Camino Madrid! I will get my diary out and give you some information on the places we stayed as they were all pretty cool. Get back to you in a day or two. And Segovia!! You will want to go back and spend more time there!

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    1. That would be great! Thanks Lue! I know there will be some variation as our stages will be different, but all tips and tricks will be gratefully received. One day we will go back to all the places I loved for a longer, touristy, no-walking visit! 😉 Melx

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  2. Hi Mel Great to see you are doing the Madrid.

    A few suggestions- 1- buy your credential before you leave. Many national groups sell them. eg. Us, Canada etc. Usually you fill in a form and they send one along. The church in Madrid is only open at certain time’s and is a bit out of the way. 2- best place to buy acSIM card is in the airport when you arrive. Then you can use it! Very competitive pricing. I use Vodaphone. Good coverage. I got a months and 15Gb for E15 this past September. 3- buy your ticket to the Prado on line. You need to pick a day and time. Then you walk in! Lines (queues) are sometimes hours just to buy the ticket. 4- the path is well marked. Not to worry. 5- you must stay at the birthplace of Ponce de Leon. Great experience. 6- if I was you I would book a hotel in Madrid for your first night. May is prime season. Expect high prices. Great city. 7- you will soon tire of walking through the streets of Madrid. All those red lights breaks your stride. We took the subway to get out of the city our first day. 8- Segovia is wonderful. Splurge and stay in the Centro. Again book that night as it will be busy.

    Good luck.

    Looking forward to your blog en route.

    David

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    1. WOW! Amazing tips there, David. Thanks a million! 1. I was thinking that because I have two nights in Madrid, that I will be able to catch the Church to buy my credential. Not sure whether I am being overly optimistic there. I have also booked a hotel for two nights already and it is only a couple of blocks from the Church. I am hoping that will work out OK. 3. The Prado – is it a must-see? I,e. something I must do during my limited time in Madrid? I love museums and art etc – so appreciate the tip. 5. At this stage I haven’t scheduled an overnight in Ponce de Leon, but I will see if I can rejig the itinerary. 8. Have already booked a little hotel in Segovia Centro! So excited to see that city and get walking. Thanks so much for your support. I like the feeling that I am walking in yours and Lue’s footsteps! Melx

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  3. It sounds like you are going to enjoy a good challenge, both physically and mentally. We loved spending time in Spain and have visited a few places on your list, and I am sure you will enjoy the journey.
    I have always wanted to do the Camino. Maybe one day.

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    1. Hi Suzanne. Hopefully my next adventure will encourage you to tie your boots on! If you are starting out, I recommend starting with the Camino Frances as the infrastructure is so well developed including luggage transport services, that you can walk as little or as much as you want each day. You can also go 5-star if your budget allows! Buen camino! Mel

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        1. Yes, I have done a couple of solo walks and really enjoy the flexibility however it does get a bit lonely at times. I am hoping to have a friend join me for the second two stages of this camino adventure – from Leon onwards. It will be exciting to see a familiar face after walking the Madrid on my own.

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  4. Hi Mel. I’m currently completing the Mozárabe (right now!!) only 5 days til Merida. I’ve been away a few months. I walked the Madrid in September when I arrived. I’ll contact you when I’m back home. Maybe I can help with your ore planning xx Grace

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  5. I cannot WAIT to see this unfold! You have some long hiking days on the trail. I commend u for wearing the same outfit the entire time!!! Not sure I could do this. What’s your training going to be like? And then you are just carrying a small pack? Sooo happy for you 🙂

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    1. Yep, I am pretty excited too! Although the long hiking days are not thrilling me, I know they will be fine once I get on the ground and get match-fit! I think one of the things I really love about these sort of hikes is the simplicity. I only have one hiking shirt so I don’t waste any time wondering what to wear. And everyone is in the same boat so it doesn’t matter if we see each other in the same clothes on a daily basis. I do wash frequently though and with that quick drying fabric, can wash at the end of the day and things are relatively fresh to start the next day. Training involves building up distance over a couple of months and adding weight to my pack. I have a nice 20km loop from my house and I build up the number of repetitions over time. It is still a shock to the body to do this distance day after day, but I adjust quickly – especially if I can sleep and eat well. Now the pack is a bit contentious. It is a 42litre – so relatively small, but it is usually around 13-14kgs. That is way more than most people carry, but I always carry about 3litres of water (I am a lousey camel) and that adds a tonne of weight, as you know. I figure I have to carry it, so how much it weighs is up to me. Have a great day! Mel

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      1. you will become one with your pack! I’d feel the need to carry WAY more toiletries than I need….which would probably outweigh the water. lol. Happy training! Fingers crossed you don’t run into any of the S words. I’m afraid if i say it you will!

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