Our 2023 battlefield tour runs from 14-17 October and will focus on the Tunnellers’ war fought deep beneath the battlefield. We will also be telling the story of the League of Help and Bristol’s post-war links with the French town of Bethune. Staying at 3 & 4-Star hotels in Arras and Ypres, we will visit the Somme, Arras and Flanders battlefields and enable guest to walk in their ancestor’s footsteps. Further information is given on the flyer below. There is also additional information at the foot of the page – so do read on!
This will be the fifth year (with a break due to the pandemic) that Jeremy and Clive have run a trip to the Western Front battlefields and memorials. On each occasion Mandy Havill, Group Travel Manager at Bakers Dolphin expertly and seamlessly handles our coach and driver arrangements as well as booking the ferries and hotels in France and Belgium. Pretty much everything else is down to Jeremy and Clive.
Our tours generally start quite early on the Saturday morning. Although this is a bit of a shock to the system it’s worth it as we can get to Arras in France in a timely fashion. This allows us to make a couple of stops en route before checking in to our hotel and then tucking into a hearty evening meal at a local restaurant. Bon appetit!
It’s not all hard work as we do have time to socialise; to have a glass of whatever you fancy and to see some lovely buildings and scenery. Some of our past guests have been moved to sketch the evocative places they have visited with us; others have read poems at the gravesides of famous poets and in 2019, Dr Jan Cox gave wonderful insights into the work of several War Artists, whose battlefield scenes we explored.
Many enduring friendships have been formed through the acquaintances we make on our trips. Our tours are bespoke. With a variety of themes and the pursuit of individual stories, each trip is unique.
The formula seems to work. We have a few ‘Old Sweats’ who have been with us since the beginning and for our fifth trip here’s a broad outline and what is included and excluded and what to expect in 2023.
It’s just not cricket as there’s an early start, for starters!
Likely pick up points and timings on 14 October
- 03.50hrs – Locking Road, Weston-super-Mare
- 04.10hrs – Congresbury. Bus stop on A370 after Tesco Express
- 04.20hrs – Backwell. Bus stop near Leisure Centre
- 05.00hrs – The Bristol Hotel, Prince Street, Bristol
- 05.15hrs – Kingswood. Bus stop outside Civic Centre on main A420
- 05.55hrs – Leigh Delamere Services on M4 to change coach driver
Once we leave Leigh Delamere, time for a doze, with a comfort break on the way before we get to Dover in time for the 11.10am ferry crossing to Calais. The coach will have a loo and tea/coffee/hot chocolate drinks can be purchased on board too.
What’s included/not included in the tour cost
- Bakers Dolphin coach and driver, ferry crossings, three nights in 3 & 4* hotels in Arras and Ypres on dinner, bed and breakfast basis. Our evening meal in Ypres is not included, but on other nights we will eat at local French restaurants.
- Pre-tour research on individual stories and itinerary planning
- Group and individual information packs
- Services of Jeremy Banning (Principal Guide), military historian, researcher and battlefields expert and Clive Burlton (Tour Manager), author, publisher and local First World War historian.
- The three lunches on tour. We source these either through packed lunches provided by the hotels or local caterers and/sit-down lunches in local eateries
- Admission fees for any museums and other attractions that we visit
- Dinner at a restaurant in the main square in Ypres on Monday 16 October
- Potential ferry crossing supplementary cost
- Coach driver gratuity
The additional costs have tended to work out at around £90-£100 per person and are collected prior to the trip or when we meet up.
As we will be spending a fair amount of time outside we need sensible clothing for autumnal weather. Generally, rainproof tops and bottoms and sturdy footwear is recommended and an odd brolly or two is handy.
Dietary Requirements and Next of Kin details
These are collected before we travel.
Poppies and Wooden Crosses
We will have with us some poppies, wooden crosses and other items supplied by the Royal British Legion for you to use, along with a Poppy Appeal collection box for donations. In 2019 we collected around £100 for the British Legion.
And don’t forget…
- Your valid passport
- UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC)
- Travel & medical insurance is essential, especially so after Brexit
- Any medication you might need
- Euros currency. You won’t need much, but may need some out-of-pocket spending money for a box of Belgian chocolates or a bottle of Trappist beer for your other half
Leave the crowds behind and explore sites away from beaten path
Gain an understanding of battles, how they unfolded and how tactics changed
Walk in the footsteps of your forebears