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TGWW

Walking The Western Front

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TGWW

Dear All

I have lurked on this forum for some time now and simply soaked up the huge amount of knowledge, anecdote and compassion that flows through it. I have finally broken my silence to request some assistance and would be grateful for your help.

I will be undertaking a full Western Front walking trip next year meaning that I intend to walk the entire Western Front from Switzerland to the Belgium Coast. Whilst all of the logistical and support plans are coming together nicely I am now looking for the “soul” of my journey. I wondered if you could assist by answering some or all of the following questions:

1 – what memorial, area of interest, cemetery, battlezone etc is an absolute “must visit” en route?

2 – what are the not very often visited “special” places that have moved posters that I ought to visit en route?

3 – I will be sponsored for this walk. To which charity or organisation should I pledge the money?

4 – would this forum or website be interested in receiving a daily update on my travels in the form of some kind of blog? (We are still working on the logistics for wireless networking throughout the trip)

5 – has anyone on this forum already completed this journey and can they offer any advice?

6 – how could I develop this adventure to make it more relevant to interested people such as yourselves as well as drawing in those who have perhaps only a fleeting insight into the Western Front?

I have plenty of time still for further preparation so I’d genuinely hope that this thread would run for a while and draw out some helpful advice and information.

Thank you.

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Michael Johnson

Tyne Cot Cemetery. The number of graves boggles the mind.

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StAubyns

It has been done the other way around, Belgium to Switzerland, and the walker did write up his journey. It may make useful reading for you, but unfortunately I cannot rember the name of the author. No doubt someone else on here will.

Good luck for your project, I wish I had the time & fitness level to do it.

regards

Geoff

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Dragon

For the area of Alsace and the Vosges, I recommend obtaining copies of the two volumes of "L'Alsace et les Combats des Vosges", a Michelin publication which is sometimes obtainable via Abebooks or on Ebay.

The classic sites to visit are Hartmannswillerkopf / le Vieil Armand and le Linge, if you haven't been before, but in my opinion it is also possible to have unforgettable and challenging walks along parts of the front in Barrenkopf (down the road from le Linge), la Tête des Faux and other parts mentioned in the Michelin guides above. In some parts of the Vosges, it is next to impossible to reach the front lines because of the nature of the mountain terrain and the weather can make any walk precarious. La Tête des Faux is staggeringly dreadful, charged, especially when you're alone. Dreadful in the sense that war is so apparent up there.

The series of books called Guides du Club Vosgien are worth having, because they give walking guidance which takes in sites of memory, tell you which symbols to follow, give approximate times and distances. Used in conjunction with the guides to, eg, Les fermes-auberges des Ballons des Vosges, it is possible to plan eating stops at fermes-auberges for excellent value food and local insights. These guides are obtainable from tourist offices such as that of:

Parc naturel régional des Ballons des Vosges - www.parc-ballons-vosges.fr

Maison du Parc

1 cour de l'Abbaye

68140 Munster

I've been visiting Alsace and the Vosges in all seasons for probably seventeen years and am fairly familiar with it. Please ask if you need any information and I may be able to help.

Gwyn

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Tom Morgan

It has also been done earlier this year by two "ageing long-distance cyclists" as they describe themselves. Full Story Here.

Tom

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willy

What a trip, where do I start, I will keep to the somme as this is the area I know best.

Must see's

Thiepval memorial, Ulster Tower, Lochnagar Crater, Newfoundland Park, Delville Wood and memorial, Serre & Sheffield park, The Sunken Lane Beamont Hamel, Avrils Cellar Auchonvillers .

Hawthorn ridge Cemetery, great views across Redan Ridge, Lonsdale Cemetery Authille, Ten tree Alley Cemetery

Posting photo's will grab attention particularly if they are of unusual views.

But for me the must do experience is to be on either Redan or Hawthorn ridges at dawn, on a still morning.

Willy

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Terry Denham

TGWW

If you need any help when planning the route, I will be happy to help as the poor so and so who had to plan the course of the cyclists' ride earlier this year - as mentioned by Tom above.

It was not easy with cyclists (hills etc) and I am sure it will not be easy for a pedestrian!

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Christina Holstein

Coming up from the south, the Meuse Heights overlooking the St. Mihiel Salient, anywhere on the Verdun battlefield particularly the main sites, Vauquois Hill, American sites in the Meuse-Argonne (Montfaucon and Romagne), the Haute Chevauchée and Kaiser Tunnel in the Argonne Forest, Blanc Mont in Champagne.......

Christina

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TGWW

Thank you for all of your comments so far. Please keep them coming.

In particular we would be interested in any perosnal stories that we can explore on our trip and we would be more than happy to consider taking photos of or making a remembrance stop at a particular point that someone has been unable to visit but would like a memento of ...

Let us know ...

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paul guthrie

Yes do read O'Shea, it's fine for a travel guide, amusing, but his opinions on military operations are ludicrous, best ignored.

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mwsmith
Dear All

I have lurked on this forum for some time now and simply soaked up the huge amount of knowledge, anecdote and compassion that flows through it. I have finally broken my silence to request some assistance and would be grateful for your help.

I will be undertaking a full Western Front walking trip next year meaning that I intend to walk the entire Western Front from Switzerland to the Belgium Coast. Whilst all of the logistical and support plans are coming together nicely I am now looking for the “soul” of my journey. I wondered if you could assist by answering some or all of the following questions:

1 – what memorial, area of interest, cemetery, battlezone etc is an absolute “must visit” en route?

2 – what are the not very often visited “special” places that have moved posters that I ought to visit en route?

3 – I will be sponsored for this walk. To which charity or organisation should I pledge the money?

4 – would this forum or website be interested in receiving a daily update on my travels in the form of some kind of blog? (We are still working on the logistics for wireless networking throughout the trip)

5 – has anyone on this forum already completed this journey and can they offer any advice?

6 – how could I develop this adventure to make it more relevant to interested people such as yourselves as well as drawing in those who have perhaps only a fleeting insight into the Western Front?

I have plenty of time still for further preparation so I’d genuinely hope that this thread would run for a while and draw out some helpful advice and information.

Thank you.

There are some little known but very interesting sites remaining at Nieuport. Let me know nearer the time and i will send you info and photos.

Regards Mike

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TGWW

Thanks for everyone's help so far.

I have another puzzler for you.

I know that discussion on casulaties always raises a lot of debate however we have begun working on the assumption that our walk will take 950 000 (approx) steps to complete. On that basis we'd like to be able to say that each step we take marks the death of three soldiers of all nations on the Western Front.

That's a total of approx 2 850 000 killed in action.

Are we way out, close or neither of those.

We need a figure that's simple and easy for people not as versed on the war as you lot to take on board and understand.

Thoughts?

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griffy

Undertaking a walk ofthe Western Front implies it was static which as we all know over the course of 4 years it wasnt. For example if you walk through the Somme battlefield do you miss out the Hindenburg Line to which the Germans subsequently withdrew, this is 20 or so miles further or do you double back on yourself to take this in?. I guess one option might be to pick a year or a season within a year if you plan a straight north- south walk. The line was fairly static in winter so I guess a walk of the Western Front as it was say in winter 1915/16 would be relatively straight forward to map

But of course there would be nothing wrong in undertaking a winding route taking in all the numerous places of interest but this might require a good deal of time, back tracking and stamina!

Wherever your route takes you it will be fascinating. Good luck.

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TGWW
I guess a walk of the Western Front as it was say in winter 1915/16 would be relatively straight forward to map

That's where we've ended up after having a similar debate about the route. There are some detours however to points of interest and some compromises to making life easier on the old feet! We should have our full route down by January 2007. We're still open to anyone hwo has a "must see" suggestion. Some areas will be more intensive than others. For example we've "done" the Some on several occasions and so may move more swiftly through there to allow more time in the Vosges and Argonne which are new to us.

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supersub

Hi... bumping up a rather old thread. I'm a new member here after finding this thread on a Google search. I'm thinking of doing a similar walk (early days of planning as yet) and wondered what the follow-up to this was? Did TGWW do the walk? Has anyone else attempted it?

I've ordered the two books mentioned above, so thanks to everyone already for helping me with my initial research.

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Michelle Young

It has been done the other way around, Belgium to Switzerland, and the walker did write up his journey. It may make useful reading for you, but unfortunately I cannot rember the name of the author. No doubt someone else on here will.

Good luck for your project, I wish I had the time & fitness level to do it.

regards

Geoff

I think this is the book, not one I read twice, in fact I gave it away (one of the few)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-War-Walk-Military-Paperbacks/dp/0304366838/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Michelle

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huwrevans

The Welsh Dragon at Mametz is one that stands out for me.

As for a charity, perhaps the British Legion or Help for Hero's, to name but a few worthy causes.

have a great trip!

Hwyl

Huw

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Guest KatieToronto

Hi everyone.

I'm a reporter in Canada - about to embark on a Western Front project. The idea is to walk the Western front, north to south, and tell stories every day while walking. I am expecting to leave in April, and trying to read, research, and plan logistics. I found this forum and was wondering if anyone here might be able to provide any advice. I've been told that it's madness to try, and perhaps I need to change my strategy a bit. I have not been to this part of France of Belgium before.

The initial idea was to walk with a photographer, stay at hotels and inns where they are available, and otherwise camp out. We'd be carrying backpacks and we're not sure about vehicle support. It may be the case that we'll arrange for some transport to hotel sites if it is impractical to stay in the countryside, and then return to the walk in the morning.

If anyone is able to offer any advice (I'm just in my early planning stages, but hope to have a route to present to my editors by the end of next week) please let me know.

Thanks so much!

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Renaat1986

Maybe you can find/ get some informations on this Facebookpage. Last year this walk was done by 3 Belgians reporters. They even made a TV program of it -> Called: Ten oorlog / in English: At war. Maybe they can provide you some information.

They started their walk in Nieuwpoort and went on to the Swiss border. And then from the Southern Swiss border to Triëst. From there they took the boat to Vlorë and walked further to Thessaloniki - Galipoli.

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Fattyowls

Hi Katie

Your trip sounds awesome; I wish I could do something like that. This forum is definitely a good starting point; the accumulated knowledge on here is staggering. My first suggestion would be to structure your tour around those parts of the Western Front which are special to Canada (unless you want to avoid this). So from north to south you could visit the various understated and moving granite memorials that dot Belgium and France. Chief amongst these are Crest Farm near Passchendaele and Hill 62 a little further south where you have a good view into the town of Ypres. The mighty memorial at Vimy almost goes without saying and then there is Beaumont-Hamel, Courcelette, the ADANAC cemetery and Gueudecourt on the Somme. There are lots of other points of Canadian interest in between; the definitive guide is stlll Rose Coombs "Before Endeavours Fade" in my view. This covers pretty much every point of interest down to the St Mihiel Salient. The suggestions in this thread about Verdun and the other French battlefields are also still valid. It's also worth noting that the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg line in the Spring of 1917 and the German offensives in the spring and early summer of 1918 moved the lines quite a long way. Together with the final Allied offensives that ended the war in 1918 there isn't always a continuous line to be drawn on the map.

It's also worth noting that much of the area south of St Mihiel to the Swiss border while it saw some savage fighting does not have as many points of interest. This could complicate your planning if you are intending to walk all of the front.

Like most people I've got my favourite places; you could probably spend the next four years walking the front and you still wouldn't see everything. Best of luck with your planning.

Pete.

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Marilyne

Lot of people want to walk the front line... funny. My plan is to do Verdun-Ypres one day... when my dear All But Logic company would care to give me a month or so off... and it would have to be outside of the marching season.

Katie, if you need some log in Belgium... maybe we can help ??? I'm a photographer also and you would be a good topic for a shoot... if you don't mind me saying so.

Please keep us posted !!

MM.

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WFW

Hello - this may be belated but just to say The Western Front Way went Live this week and you can find more info on the path on the link. We would love to hear any more top tips, suggestions or disappointments that you experienced along the way. https://www.thewesternfrontway.com/. Also on #WhyIWalk or #WFWRoute. 

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Hedley Malloch

As someone who loves walking and the Western Front, I think this is a great idea. It needs developing, by being set out on IGN maps and accommodation details. A paperback guide can't be far behind. Congratulations.

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Sly

Hello,

what a great website, great presentation and film for a great idea. Congratulations. 

Sly

 

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