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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Walking the Pelgrimspad - Amsterdam to Santiago

I turn 60 in August of 2012 and to celebrate, I plan on taking a 3 month hike. There are two routes I'm considering. One is from Rome to Santiago with two of my friends who are ALSO turning 60. The other route I'd really love to walk is the Pelgrimspad, beginning in Amsterdam and going all the way to Santiago de la Compostella in Spain.

This is a lovely route, flat for much of the way. It passes rivers, windmills, historic towns and villages.

The Pelgrimspad is broken into two parts or "Deels."  Deel 1 goes from Amsterdam to Hertogenbosh, about 199 kilometers. That is about 124 miles.

This stage goes through some lovely countryside! (photos by Hans Schultz)

Direction Sign

Sometimes the way is marked by signs, and other times by small painted waymarks, so a pilgrim must keep their eyes open!

Deel TWO:  Deel 2 continues on to Vise' in Belgium, and is about 267 kilometers, about 165 miles for a total of 289 miles.
All along the way, campsites and other facilities are available.

The cost for camping; about 10 Euro per night.
Pensions;  25 – 35 Euros, including breakfast.
Hotels; 40 - 100 Euros per night

I plan on camping as much as possible, and staying in pensions only if it's raining.

According to Jan Gerritsen's guidebook, most of the Trail is on unpaved roads through forest and meadows. Large stretches are on paved roads and only short stretches are on tracks.

Once I reach Belgium, I'll continue to either Vezelay or Paris where I'll pick up the Camino. I haven't figured out how I will reach these cities yet. I'm talking to other people who have walked this route.
Click on Map to Make Larger

The trail runs southwest from Vézelay , famous for its pilgrimage to the shrine of Mary Magdalene, whose relics are reputedly kept in its magnificent Abbey.

Two distinct branches, of similar length comprise the Vezelay route - one passing through La Charité-sur-Loire, Bourges, Déols and Chateauroux, and the other through Nevers, Saint-Amand-Montrond and La Châtre - meet in the village of Gargilesse.  I'm not sure which I'll take yet. The route then continues across the foothills of the Limousin, the hills and valleys of the Périgord and the plains of Aquitaine and the Landes.  It joins the two other routes (from Tours and le Puy-en-Velay) near Ostabat.

The Paris route is the green line on the map above. 

It is approximately 1700 km from Vezelay to Santiago. That is 1056 miles for a grand total of over 1345 miles! KOWABUNGA!

I'm hoping to make this entire walk in about 3 months. If I run out of time, maybe I'll visit friends in Wales or find a housesitting job out of the Schengen countries for 3 months, then return.

According to the Confraternity of St. James website, the Vezelay route covers a wide variety of landscape and passes many historical sites & monuments.  After the foothills of the Morvan, the Niévre offers a great diversity of views, valleys, hills and forests, with only rare and very scattered dwellings. The large plains of the Berry are far from monotonous with their immense agricultural landscapes crisscrossed by hedges and copses. The valley of the river Creuse, and those of its tributaries (such as the Bouzanne or the Sédelle) are pretty at all times of year, with their gorges and the sites of their surprising dams. The Limousin is a land of forests and springs, of extensive cattle and sheep-raising, with its own distinctive architecture.  The Périgord, rich in livestock, agriculture and wine-growing, is crossed from one side to the other across the valleys of the Isle & Dordogne rivers.  The Gironde is the land of the vine (wines of Bergerac & Bordeaux), whereas the Landes, despite the vast plantations of pine-trees which may seem to isolate the pilgrim, present an ever more varied environment as one travels further south. As one approaches the Pyrenées Atlantiques one becomes aware with each passing day of the landscapes and the rushing mountain streams which announce the imminence of the mountain passes which are to be climbed.

I've also always wanted to see Lourdes, so a detour to Lourdes will be in the plans.

The Spectacular Pyranees
 However, I do love Paris and would enjoy spending a few days browsing The Louvre again.

Decisions, decisions!

And then, there's the trek from Rome to Santiago that Lillian has invited me to join...

Which shall I do?

* * * 
If you'd like to walk the Camino
but aren't quite ready to do it alone,
see my website:
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe


  1. I am curious which path you will take? Another nice route in the Netherlands is the Peterpad, running N-S near the eastern border with Germany. I walked it and met hikers heading for Santiago. Enjoy your path, wherever it leads!

    1. Oh! Another walk!? I will look into this one!

  2. Well, I've decided to walk the Pelgrimspad from Amsterdam for about 2 weeks. Then I'm flying to Wales and will walk Offa's Dyke. I'll return to finish the Pelgrimspad NEXT spring! :)


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