This article gives an overview of a set of GPS tracks and waypoints for the Camino Francés from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.
These tracks and waypoints were originally recorded by a Brazilian Camino peregino called Eduado who walked the Camino Francés in 2000. I discovered his GPS material for the Camino from a search of Google. His Camino maps can be freely downloaded from this website. However, they are in a file format called “.gz” which must first be transformed to the “.gdb” or “.gpx” file formats before they can be viewed and used on Garmin or most other handheld GPS devices.
I have done the conversion and the set of transformed .gdb files is called Camino_Eduardo.gdb. This file contains 22 tracks and 493 waypoints. Unfortunately, these tracks and waypoints were not systematically named nor divided into daily stages.
The 34 Camino stages described by John Brierley in “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Santiago”
I therefore decided to re‐organise Eduardo’s tracks into the 34 Camino stages described by John Brierley in his excellent book “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Santiago” (Camino Guides, 6th Edition, 2010)”.
This file contains 500 waypoints and 38 colour‐coded tracks. 34 of the tracks are the preferred tracks described by Brierley whilst the other tracks are alternative routes. Brierely describes many more alternative routes for various stages but I have chosen just four of these.
Each preferred track is named using two numeric digits followed by three upper‐case letters which are abbreviations of the 34 stage destinations (e.g. 02RON is the second stage from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncevalles). The four alternate routes are named with the same 2 digits as its “parent” preferred route, followed by three lower‐case letters and the uppercase letters ALT (e.g. 02ronALT). The reason for the somewhat cryptic track naming is that most handheld GPS devices have quite limited name sizes (usually 8‐14 characters depending on the model).
The 500 waypoints are named by using the five characters of the track name on which they appear, plus three numeric digits. (e.g. 02RON001, 02RON002, …). Each waypoint has an associated optional comment and a symbol, most of which are fairly obvious or are described in the comment field.
In order to open the .gdb files and display the tracks on your computer you will need a map software product like Garmin Trip and Waypoint Manager and the associated Garmin Mapsource program. Trip and Waypoint Manager provides a very basic but inexpensive world map whilst Mapsource enables you to create and/or modify tracks and waypoints.
Much more detailed topographical GPS map products, which include France and Spain, can be purchased via the internet. It would be very useful but not essential to have a digital GPS map of Spain on your GPS if you intend to use it for navigation on the Camino.
I plan to walk the Camino next year and will take my handheld GPS (a Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx) with me. I do not however, intend to record a continuous track or use the GPS for day‐to‐day navigation since I know that the Camino Francés is generally very well marked. I will use the GPS for points‐of‐interest and also in the (hopefully) unlikely event that I get lost.
I have spent a lot of time trying to systematically re‐organise and name the original tracks and waypoints and I have also made small modifications to some of the original tracks, including the addition of the 4 alternate‐route tracks. I must emphasise that I cannot guarantee the accuracy of any of this material as I did not create the original and there are a very large number of data items. The main tracks may not exactly follow the maps in the Brierley guide and there are almost certainly some errors and inconsistencies in the reorganised material
Please make any additions, alterations, or corrections to the tracks and waypoints but please pass these back to me so that together we can improve the overall quality of the material.
Contact Peter Schloeffel
0414 669 899 or 08 8357 3922