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Belgium

Activity
Trek
Duration
n/a days
Grade
Grade 1

About the challenge

Ypres was a major battleground from 1914-1918 due to its proximity to the Channel ports. This trek takes us between some of the World War One battle-sites and memorials around the city.

Our 3 days of trekking provide a unique perspective as we walk between the prominent battle-sites of the Ypres Salient, often tracing the line of the Western Front itself. There are beautiful views over the now-tranquil countryside, but as we walk along hill-ridges and small country lanes, through muddy fields and woodland, it is all-too-easy to imagine events of the past. This is a poignant experience as well as a physical challenge – a memorable and meaningful way to raise funds. We base ourselves in Ypres, exploring a different area each day, following a rough timeline of the battles where possible.
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The itinerary

Day 1: London – Lille – Ypres

We meet in London and board the Eurostar to Lille in France, then transfer the short distance to Ypres. We have a tour of the city, then attend the evening Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate – a wonderful way to start our trekking experience. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)

Day 2: Langemark & St Julien
Trek approx 6-8 hours

After an early breakfast we set off on our first day’s walk. We head roughly north out of Ypres on a pleasant walk alongside the Yser Canal. After a few kilometres, we come to the site of a Medical Station established in 1915; Essex Farm Cemetery is nearby. It is believed that it was here that Major John Macrae wrote his poem In Flanders Fields. We continue north towards Pilkem Ridge, where the front line was at this time, and walk on to Langemark, scene of fighting in the First Battle of Ypres in 1914. We visit the German Cemetery here before turning south and heading for St Julien – where some of the first poison gas attacks on the Western Front took place in the Second Battle of Ypres (1915). We pay our respects at memorials en-route, and walk through fields and farmland, passing small villages, back to Ypres. Night hotel.

Day 3: Passchendaele & Tyne Cot
Trek approx 7-9 hours

Today we take in more sites from the Second Battle of Ypres, walking from Ypres to Hill 60, strategically-important higher ground which changed hands several times. The land here has not been disturbed because of the extensive mining and tunnelling which took place, and is essentially a mass grave for both Allied and German soldiers. We then walk to Hill 62-Sanctuary Wood, where we can visit the war cemetery and Canadian memorial. A small museum and preserved British trenches can also be seen here. We continue walking north, towards the battlesites of 1917, including Polygon Wood, Broodseinde Ridge and on to Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world. Our day ends with a visit of the excellent Passchendaele Museum, before transferring back to Ypres. Night hotel.

Day 4: Kemmelberg & Messines Ridge
Trek approx 7 - 8 hours

We transfer a few miles south to Kemmelberg, a 156m-high hill which was fought over in 1918 during the Fourth Battle of Ypres. We then walk west towards Messines Ridge, important higher ground south of Ypres. This ridge, and the area around it, saw action throughout the Great War but its most important battle was the Battle of Messines in 1917.  From here we move on to Messines British Cemetery, where there is also a New Zealand memorial. We walk north, back to Ypres, passing through peaceful fields, woodland and villages. The scenery is beautiful, but we cannot help but think back to events 100 years ago, and this will no doubt help us to cope with any aching legs or sore feet caused by our three long days of walking! Once back at Ypres, we return to our hotel and meet again for dinner to celebrate our achievements.

Day 5: Ypres – Lille – London

We transfer back to Lille and take the Eurostar back to London, where we say our farewells and head home. (Lunch and Dinner not included)

Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.

Detailed information

What's Included?

The cost includes all accommodation as well as return transport by Eurostar, transfers and meals other than three as specified in the itinerary, as well as any entry fees to sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders are also included, along with local support of guides and drivers.

What's Excluded?

It does not include personal travel insurance, three meals as specified, any personal expenses or any optional sites or activities. Remember to allow extra for drinks, snacks, souvenirs & other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

Accommodation

We stay in a 2-3* hotel in Ypres; rooms are on a twinshare basis. The hotel is comfortable with en suite facilities, but not luxurious!

Food

All food is included except for three meals as specified. Generous packed lunches are provided when trekking. Dinners are generally eaten in the hotel.

Dietary Requirements

Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Bear in mind that there may not be as much variety as you would have at home. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.  Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.

All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.

Luggage

Space is limited in the vehicles so we recommend you don’t over-pack and travel with one main bag. Soft-sided luggage is recommended over hard-sided. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day; your main bag can be left at the hotel each day.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the challenge

Trekking Information

Walking terrain is varied, with flat plains, ridges and small hills. We generally walk on good paths through fields and woodland, our route also takes us on some country roads. Paths may be narrow, muddy or slippery at times. Trekking distances are quite long each day (approx 18-25km), with visits to sites and memorials built into the itinerary. To have time to fully enjoy these visits, you must be fit enough to manage these distances on a daily basis. Other sites en-route may be possible depending on the overall fitness of the group. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.

Clothing & Equipment

We are travelling through remote mountains where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

Weather

Temperatures and climate can vary widely day-to-day, as you would expect in Northern Europe. Generally it should be warm and sunny; rain is always a possibility and it may be blustery.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

Passport & Visa

A valid ten-year passport is essential for travel in France and Belgium, and must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. There is no visa requirement for UK citizens or other EU members. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.

Vaccinations

We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.  AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.

Carbon Offsetting

We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.

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