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» Ypres Salient / The Somme - Battlefields Tours


Until the launch of this special joint mini coach tour and Eurostar package, it has been very difficult to organise single-day, short visits to the incredibly poignant Great War Battlefields of Ypres Salient, the Somme and Cambria sector. This unique programme, combining rail with local mini-bus, now allows you to choose between a one, two or three-day tour at a reasonable price. We can also design a day for groups who might wish to have a special focus on family connections, a particular regiment, or particular battles.


» DEPARTURE DATES FOR 2006
Every Saturday, Sunday and Monday

» ITINERARY

Day One - Ypres Salient, Belgium
Depart London Waterloo 06.30
Return London Waterloo 22.00

Your tour starts as you board Eurostar's service at London's Waterloo Station. You have to be at the meeting point at 06.45. On arrival at Lille you're met by your specialist battlefields guide.

We follow the trench line along 'Plug Street' and the Messines Ridge to the Salient. En route you'll see the church basement where one Adolf Hitler had his billet. 'The Salient' struck fear into the Great War Tommy for being the hottest spot on the 70 mile front. Over a quarter of a million men gave their lives to hold this last bit of Belgium from the Germans. Although history records three great battles fought here, it was a constant battle - against shell, bullet, bomb, gas, water and rats.

On our day you'll see some of the most important sites that remain; the German trenches at Kemmel, Popperinge's execution cells, St Julien site of the first gas attack, John McRae's Essex Farm site, Noel Chevasse, double VC grave, Hoogt crater and museum, Passendaele dug-out and Tyne Cot cemetery. You'll walk the moonscape of the Hill 60 battlefield and see literally dozens of memorials. We'll also spend time in Ypres itself at St George's Chapel and the Mennen Gate Memorial. There will be time for those who want to take an optional tour of the 'In Flanders Field' Museum to do so.

Those staying on for the weekend remain in Ypres to attend the moving Mennen Gate ceremony while those on the one-day tour are returned to the rail station for their trip to London.

The return to London is on the 21.00 train from Lille, arriving at Waterloo at 22.00 from where you make your way independently.

Day Two - The Somme, France
Depart London Waterloo 06.30
Return London Waterloo 22.00

Your tour starts as you board Eurostar's service at London's Waterloo Station. You have to be at the meeting point at 06.30. On arrival at Lille you're met by your specialist battlefields guide. Those who have been on the day's prior's Ypres Salient tour will be collected from our hotel base.

To most people the Somme signifies one day - July 01st 1916. It was the day that the British Army suffered its greatest ever losses in a single day with nearly 60,000 casualties. But the actual battle for the Somme raged until November of that year, and saw massive fighting again in 1918.

What remains is truly awesome. There are sites seen today that will be etched into your consciousness forever. In addition to crossing the Lens/Loos battlefield and seeing Vimy Ridge (where Canadian troops won a major battle in April 1917), you'll also see the huge Lochnagar mine crater, the sunken road where the Accrington Pals were virtually wiped out, the tank memorial, Sausage Valley, the Poziere battlefield and Windmill Hill, Albert, the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing and the Ulster Tower. An undoubted highlight, however, will be our guided walk around the incredible preserved Beaumont Hamel battlefield site. Other site will be added accroding to the interest of the tour participants.

If you're returning to London tonight, you'll be catching the 00.00 Eurostar from Lille, arriving in London Waterloo station from where you travel independently.

Day Three - The Big Push, Tanks and Armistice
Depart London Waterloo 06.30
Return London Waterloo 22.00

This, the final day in our series of one-day Western Front battlefield visits, takes us to the extreme south of the British held lines. You can either join for just this one day or make it part of a longer tour. If you're taking this as a one-day tour, you'll catch the 00.00 Eurostar from London's Waterloo station, and be met on arrival in Lille by your Back-Roads Touring Co. Ltd guide.

If you've been with us for the two prior days, touring the Ypres Salient and The Somme, you'll be collected from our tour base hotel.

On this day we'll visit sites connected with the 'Hindenburg Push' of 1918, the fantastic Chateau Historial de Peronne Museum, the Cambrai tank battlefield of 1917, and to visit Compiegne, site of the German surrender (and where you'll see a replica of the famed train carriage).

As we'll also be covering territory that had four years previously seen the flight and virtual annihilation of the British Army, we stop at representative sites. An undoubted highlight for those who have read Ben MacIntyre's 'A Foreign Field' will be the stop at le Catelet.

We return to Lille for the late evening Eurostar return to London arriving at approximately 22.00.

Please note that this itinerary is subject to slight change according to time of year, local conditions and group preferences.

Price:
You can take either a one day tour
Cost: £95 inclusive of Eurostar, mini-coach tour and all entrance fees

Combine Saturday and Sunday to make it a weekend visit
Cost: £185 per person (inc. 1 nights B&B accommodation in a twin share)

Combine Saturday, Sunday and Monday to have a three day package.
Cost: £245 per person (inc. 2 nights B&B accommodation in a twin share)

Whats Included? Click here for full details

Advantages and price justification - click here

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We can also offer tours departing from Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin and Lillie

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  “John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, wrote most of his famous book while in jail. He was imprisoned for twelve years for preaching without a license.
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  I would recommend Astral Travels to anyone planning to visit London. The professionalism with which you operate your tours is obvious. The clean spacious minibus was a very comfortable method of travel, the route was well planned and designed to give us the most time possible to explore the sights without feeling rushed, and the cost of the day's tour was very very reasonable. From the minute David collected us in the morning to the moment we stepped off the minibus in the evening, we could relax and enjoy ourselves to the fullest extent possible. And enjoy we did -- all of us hated to see the day end -- it was great!!!
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