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Remembered Today:

Walking the (entire?) Western Front


supersub
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About four years ago, an Australian member started a thread about walking the full length of the Western Front. I joined in as it was something I had been thinking of doing it for years. In the end, I believe, the other member's walk didn't go ahead.

We never gave up thinking about it, though, and we are now at our jumping-off point. Tomorrow my wife and I take the ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge, and on Monday we aim to get walking from Nieuwpoort. Because we are not the sort of people who can plan more than two or three days ahead, we genuinely don't know if it is physically or logisitically possible - we're not as young as we were, and we will only discover as we go along if there is enough accommodation along the way. One of my brothers said we we were setting ourselves up for embarrassment if we have to give up after three days - but we're still going to give it a go!

We've got Linesman, we're basing our route on Stephen O'Shea's Back To The Front (we've been in touch with him and he has been very helpful), and we have also been in contact with the Western Front Way people. All we need to do now is start walking...

I'm a (retired) journalist and will be blogging as we go along. I can guarantee that no knowledgeable Forum member is going to learn anything about the First World War that they didn't know already, but it might be interesting to some who are planning walks of their own to see how the logistics work out.

If you're interested, you can follow us at walktheline2018.wordpress.com.

Wish us luck!

 

(Oh, and although we are not calling this a sponsored walk, we are aiming to raise some funds for War Child. The First World War was probably the first to affect children on a major scale, as their homes were destroyed and families were displaced, and War Child is a charity that helps young people in modern war zones - such as Syria)

 

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Good luck!

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Fair play for attempting it. Don't get downhearted if you don't complete it this time, there will always be another chance. Look after your feet and your feet will look after you.

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2 hours ago, supersub said:

the Western Front Way people

 

I have often thought that a way marked path along the western front would be a great idea, are there plans for such a thing?

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I rode the Western Front on my bicycle two years ago...loved every second of it. Good luck!

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Bon voyage!

 

Arnout Hauben, a Flemish TV director and reporter, walked (together with a cameraman and a soundman) the WW1 frontline from Nieuwpoort to Gallipoli, and made a TV programme of it (9 episodes). Massively interesting. Took him from Belgium through France to Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Albania, FYR of Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

There's a book, and a DVD no doubt, but all in Dutch I'm afraid.

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_oorlog

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Enjoy the trip, keep us informed !! 

 

Marilyne

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What a great adventure, good luck and can't wait to see the updates.

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Thanks, everyone. Four days in, and we are in Mesen tonight. Keep up with us at walktheline2018.wordpress.com.

If you spot any howlers, do let me know!

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What a wonderful adventure you have begun. It's a pleasure to share your experiences through the blog. 

Best of luck and happy trails! 

/Dan 

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i'll be following this, nice work

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Re Post No.9 

 

'Ten Oorlog' was a very good programme.

 

Arnout Hauben was at New Irish Farm Cemetery on 18th April - commemorating the burial of Captain Walker, Royal Warwickshire.

 

I was lucky enough to see some of the artifacts that were recovered while Arnout's team were filming another documentary in the Westhoek, that were presented to Captain Walker's relative from New Zealand. Very moving and very powerful to touch history.

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On another note -  if I had known you were passing by Ypres I would have joined you.

 

Safe journey and good luck.

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  • 1 month later...
  • Admin

I have been following the blog daily, and have enjoyed reading it. Nick and Fiona completed their walk yesterday. 

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Thanks, Michelle...yes, we arrived at Kilometre Zero on Monday morning, exactly six weeks to the hour after leaving Nieuwpoort. We arrived home in the UK today, knackered by the Vosges but elated.

So if anyone else is interested in attempting this, we are proof that it is possible. A few things to bear in mind, though:

1. It's a long way and sometimes you need to walk 20 miles-plus in a day - not necessarily because of being in a hurry, but simply because there isn't always a closer bed for the night. Accommodation and food in rural France is getting harder and harder to find (of course, you could camp wild and forage for food, but I wouldn't recommend it!).

2. You have to be a bit flexible about the route, given the above. We didn't wander too far from the (obviously flexible) front line, but had to take a roundabout route at times.

3. It was expensive, though, to put it in context, we spent about as much in six weeks as we did on a fortnight's escorted tour of India last year.

4. There is still a lot that is war-related to see along the way. Not every day, but if you are near the front line, you will suddenly see trenches and shell-holes in woods.

5. We had Linesman, plus the full IGN 1:25,000 map of France (loaded for us by the helpful Jerry at Great War Digital), and it was invaluable. Sadly, Linesman covers only the British sector, so it wasn't long before we left that, but it was brilliant while it lasted. And the GPS mapping meant we never got lost or had to retrace our steps.

So, if you've always fancied it, give it a go! We're in our 60s and moderately fit, though Fiona is waiting for a hip replacement, so we are not super-athletic or anything. But make sure you've got good walking shoes...

 

walktheline2018.wordpress.com

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What a fantastic achievement well done , that’s something I’d love to do , been busy with work family things it’s something I’ve thought about splitting into sections . 

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Great thing to have achieved, I get tired just walking around the Somme for a few hours! Hope you were able to show your true spirit to your Brother!!

Tony

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for everyone's support on our endeavours. And before the memory fades, we have now published a book, which might be of interest to anyone who has or would like to walk any or all of the Western Front. Or indeed any armchair traveller with a fascination for the First World War!

Of course, if you want to walk the whole lot, then you will definitely be interested...

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Walking+The+Line+Jenkins&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AWalking+The+Line+Jenkins 

 

And if you read and enjoy our book, do please leave us an Amazon review!

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I've ordered the book and look forward to reading it and, perhaps, following in your footsteps.  I'd like to be on the trail on November 11 this year.

 

Regards,

Joe

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