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Ypres Salient Walking Tour
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We are delighted to offer a guided walking tour of the Ypres Salient battlefield, with historical guiding included using our extensive knowledge of the area gleaned from our countless trips by bicycle. For those who do not wish to cycle, a walking tour offers an ideal way to discover Passchendaele and Ypres. We will take you off the beaten track and with time to talk as you walk, you will really make the most of your time on the Immortal Salient.
We use a very comfortable hotel in the heart of Ypres within a couple of minutes' walk of both the Menin Gate and the Cloth Hall. The breakfasts are copious and delicious, just what you need to set you up for a day in the fresh air! In addition, two evening meals are included on this tour, with two evenings free to do your own thing and enjoy the delights of this wonderful town.
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You should aim to arrive by mid afternoon in order to settle in and give time for a walking tour of Ypres before the Last Post eceremony at the Menin Gate followed by the evening meal in the Market Square adjoining the impressive Cloth Hall.
Our first day looks predominantly at the actions of First Ypres - although such was the intensity of fighting in such a small area over the course of the war, that there is inevitably cross-over. From Hooge we walk via Railway Copse to Gheluvelt, where the Worcesters led a famous charge in October 1914, and thence to Zandvoorde, site of the Household Cavalry memorial recalling the sacrifice of the Life Guards and Horse Guards the very next day. Those were desperate days indeed, with incredible bravery saving the day and, without exaggeration, the war too, as the rump of the British Expeditionary Force stopped the vastly superior German armies through sheer willpower and determination. Turning west we walk to Shrewsbury Forest and then via Mount Sorrell and Observatory Ridge to Maple Copse, surely one of the most lovely of Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries anywhere. From here we go via Sanctuary Wood and past where Zouave Wood once stood back to Hooge, tracing the footsteps of the gallant Rifle Brigade in June 1915 where amongst others, Sydney Woodroffe won his Victoria Cross and where Gilbert Talbot, after whom Talbot House was named, also died. About 13 miles.
Examining the southern half of the Salient, we start our walk in Wijtschate, centre of subterranean activity which culminated in the explosion of huge mines in June 1917. First, however, we walk to the Bayenwald to see some German trenches, a place where a certain Adolf Hitler served in the Great War. Passing the evidence of those explosions at Peckham Farm we pause to reflect at the Pool of Peace, where 90,000 lbs of explosive created a huge crater now filled with water; its scale is impressive nonetheless. Continuing to Plug Steet Wood, we may find violets in season as immortalised in verse by Roland Leighton. This now tranquil place had a fearsome reputation during the war yet could hardly be more different a century later as spring bursts forth on our April walk. One of the sites of the Christmas Truce lies not far away as we follow the footsteps of the famous bloodless charge of the Somerset Light Infantry in October 1914 up to Prowse Point, and passing where 'Old Bill' was created by Bruce Bairnsfather, back to the start via Messines and the London Scottish Memorial. About 13 miles.
From Zonnebeke we walk first to Polygon Wood and take paths through this now regenerated forest, passing Scott's bunker on the way. This leads us to Black Watch Corner with its fantastic new(ish) statue of an NCO of that illustrious regiment repelling the invader's famed Prussian Guard on 11 November 1914. Crossing the Frezenburg ridge with fine views of the spires and towers of Ypres, we arrive at s'Graventafel ridge to walk to Crest Farm and Passchendaele to hear about the culmination of Third Ypres. On the return to Zonnebeke we pause at Tyne Cot cemetery for a sombre reflection on all that we have seen and heard over the three days. About 13.5 miles.
A short walk today around Hill 60, the Caterpillar Crater and the Bluff. Although short there is still plenty of history here to fascinate. Depart after lunch.
Ypres is just over an hour by car from the Calais and a couple of hours from Zeebrugge if travelling from the north of England or Scotland. Car is the best means of arrival but an alternative is Eurostar to Lille then train or taxi to Ypres.