Touring the Battlefields - Making Your Own Arrangements
Those who are familiar with crossing the English Channel by either Eurotunnel or ferry and driving on the 'wrong side' may feel confident in making their own way to the battlefields.
Most battlefield visitors can easily find reasonable hotel accommodation in and around the principal battlefield towns of Ypres/Ieper and Albert (Somme).
Ypres is about one hour's drive (east) from Calais. Albert is just over one and a half hour's drive (south east) from Calais.
Relevant links of interest include:
|Rail Link via London Waterloo
|P & O Stena Line Ferries
|Ferry Operator from Dover
The biggest drawback to visiting the battlefields under one's own steam is that it can be very difficult to relate the battlefield today to the battlefield of 1914-18, unless you have a detailed guide book accompanied by equally detailed trench maps (i.e. maps produced by the military cartographers during the war showing the battlefield in detail, especially the position of trenches etc).
The battlefields of today look pretty much the same as any other part of rural France or Belgium - with the exception of the hundreds of Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries that punctuate the landscape.
The problem with the many excellent books that have been written on the subject of the Great War is that they invariably lack adequate maps and plans to the detail that the battlefield visitor needs. This is the biggest problem.
A variation on the 'DIY theme' is taking a self-drive tour where all the Channel crossing and hotel bookings are made on your behalf by (preferably) a specialist in tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields. This way you combine the benefits of touring at your own pace, together having at your fingertips the all-important detailed battlefield guide material, so lacking in other publications.
This material includes all the maps, plans and directions you will need - so much so that you will be able to trace the exact course of the Front Line, even if it means following it across public car parks, housing estates or wherever!
For more details on self-drive tours to the Somme and Ypres battlefields visit Somme Battlefield Tours Ltd. If you are looking for a guide to drive you around the Somme or Ypres Salient battlefields once you are actually there visit the Salient Tours website for details of their minibus service.
Next - Travelling With a Tour Group
A "Dixie" (from the Hindi degci) was an army cooking pot.
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