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A bridge too far: Arnhem, via Ypres and Waterloo

A bridge too far: Arnhem, via Ypres and Waterloo

May 2021

Ride to the infamous bridge at Arnhem. This veritable feast of history concentrates on Operation Market Garden but happens to pass by some other pretty significant places on the way. It takes you from Dunkirk to Ypres, then to Waterloo, Eindhoven and to Arnhem, following the route of the attempt to end the war before winter in 1944. On the final morning we have a good ride around the Arnhem battlefield and examine the fascinating and tragic story of this heroic failure. The daily distances are moderately high but the terrain is very gentle and makes for fast and easy riding - the climbing figures for each day are included in the daily descriptions. 

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What you need to know...


Start Location
Dunkirk


Finish Location
Arnhem


Region of France
Battlefields by Bike


Grading
Moderate


Shortest Day
35 miles


Longest Day
75 miles


Total Days
5


Total Miles
345

Departure Dates & Prices

MonthDatesTour PriceSingle Supplement*Bike Hire FromEnquireBook
May 202127th to 31st May 202127/5/21 to 31/5/21£850£250Check AvailabilityBook Now

*A single supplement is only payable if you would like a guaranteed room to yourself. If you are happy to share with another traveller of the same gender, no supplement is payable.

Itinerary

Day 1

We meet at Dunkirk ferry terminal at 11am for your safety briefing and overview of the tour. Here, we will also take time to look at events of 1940 when the British Expeditionary Force was evacuated from beaches a few miles up the coast. The 'Miracle of Dunkirk' took off ten times the number of soldiers estimated an allowed the British army, whilst having lost much of its equipment, to reform and rearm in Britain. From Dunkirk we ride to Ypres, pausing to pay our respects at the poignant memorial to the Wormhout massacre of 1940. From this incredibly moving place, we ride to Poperinge and on to Ypres via the sombre Tyne Cot cemetery just to the nort of the city, and arrive in Ypres in time to get ready for the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate at 8pm. About 61miles. 1200ft climb.(Thursday. Meals included: Dinner).  

Day 2

A good breakfast in our centrally located hotel sets us up for a long day but one which is entirely flat, so good progress will be made. Exiting through the Menin Gate we will breifly see some of the places famous in the 1914 - 1918 war and will give a brief history of events in the Ypres Salient over 100 years ago before striking off east, to the north of Lille and head straight for Waterloo, enjoying our customary coffee stop along the way and keeping you fuelled up for the ride. Our hotel is literally on the battlefield of 1815 opposite La Sainte Haye farm. About 81 miles. 3007ft climb. (Friday.  Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner).

Day 3

We now start to follow in the footsteps of the British Second Army who had landed in Normandy on D Day and been at the closure of the Falaise Pocket; now they were tasked with a ground penetration deep into German territory, in order to capture intact the bridges leading to, and including the Rhine crossing at Arnhem. The overall plan was to avoid German Siegfried Line defences and to then sweep south into the industrial Ruhr area, thus knocking out the enemy's ability to manufacture and replace lost equipment; and to force a German surrender before the winter of 1944 set in. They were to be aided by the 82nd and 101st US Airborne, and the 1st British Airbourne who would capture the forward bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen, and Arnhem and await relief and reinforcement from the ground forces. As we ride to Eindhoven we will see many places where Horrocks' XXX Corps men fought bravely and created a salient that would be exploited throughout the winter. About 76 miles. 806ft climb. (Saturday. Meals included: breakfast and picnic lunch. Dinner not included - free choice).

 

Day 4

We start early again to make the most of the day, riding to the west of Eindhoven and across the bridge at Son, one of the first objectives of the campaign. From here we continue north to Nijmegen which was successfully captured by the US 101st Airborne who created a flanking manoeuvre by crossing the Waal river in small boats whilst under fire, before we finally arrive at the John Frost bridge, renamed in honour of the commanding officer of 2 Parachute Battalion who held the position, surrounded, for three days until their ammunition ran out. Our hotel in Arnhem is centrally located. About 69 miles. 581ft climb. (Sunday. Meals included: breakfast, picnic lunch and dinner).

Day 5

Depart after breakfast for our ride around the Arnhem battlefield. We start by heading to the northwest to the Drop Zone 'Y' on Ginkel Heath, which was the first one used by 4 Parachute Brigade on 18 September 1944. From here they would take the Amsterdamweg towards Arnhem but tragically be repulsed before they got there, being forced to set up defensive positions in Wolfheze and Oosterbeek, which is where we cycle to next, paying our respects at the Airbourne Cemetery at Oosterbeek where 1800 men lie. We then cross over the river at the same place that the troops were withdrawn when the situation became hopeless on the night of 25 September 1944, towards Driel, where the Polish Airbourne Brigade had landed to assist in relief and securing the south bank; many did not survive the landing however. Coming back into Arnhem we cross the famous bridge once more to bring our cycling to a close. About 35 miles. 200ft climb.

From here there are vehicle transfers back to Dunkirk / Calais available included in the cost of the tour (arrival time in Dunkirk approx 5.30pm, Calais approx 6pm - both return to Dover; or if you prefer to return via the Hook of Holland trains from Arnhem will get you there.  (Monday. meals included: breakfast).

Travel Information

Outbound we meet in Dunkirk having taken the ferry from Dover. For the return, transfers back to Dunkirk are included from Arnhem, or alternatively the Hook of Holland is another option by train (not included).

Click here for our Travel Information page.