From 1914 – 1918, World War I took place across much of Europe that saw 16 million people die. On the west side of Europe in 1914, Germany invaded Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, leading Britain to declare war on Germany.
Fierce fighting took place along what became known as the Western Front, especially around Ypres, Vimy Ridge and The Somme. It is these areas that the tour will visit and we will stop at many of the important sites of the war to look at the battlefields, cemeteries and memorials from that tragic era. This is a tour that combines riding our Harley-Davidson motorcycles while seeing an important part of history. We will ride a total of about 355 miles on the tour, stopping often to visit many WW1 locations, and staying in 3 star hotels in Ypres and Albert. There is a fair amount of easy walking at some of the locations we visit.
This is a round-trip tour and the price includes the channel tunnel train to and from France.
We catch a Eurotunnel train from Folkestone to Calais early on the Thursday morning. We ride directly to Ypres and spend the afternoon visiting WW1 battlefield sites. These include Hooge, where the remains of the Front Line trenches can still be seen, plus Tyne Cot Cemetery. Later, we will ride through the Menin Gate, which is dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in Ypres. We will have ridden 92 miles today. We will go back to the Menin Gate in the evening to see the “Last Post”, in honour of the fallen soldiers.
On day 2 we ride 85 miles south to see where the Battle of The Somme took place. On the way, we visit Bayernwald to look at some German trenches and then we stop at the site of the famous Christmas Day Truce, where the British and German soldiers came out of their trenches to shake hands with the enemy. We then ride onto Vimy Ridge, the site of the famous Canadian victory. In the afternoon we will be at The Somme, which is where perhaps the most famous of the Western Front battles took place. The Battle of The Somme started at 7.28am on 1st July 1916, when the British launched a major attack on the German trenches. The day was a tragic one in British military history as the loss of life was huge. Leaving their trenches and “going over the top” to attack nearby and well-dug in enemy trenches, many allied lives were lost and we will see both of the battlefields where this happened and the cemeteries of the war dead. We will see where a huge explosion was detonated in a tunnel under enemy trenches that formed Lochnagar Crater. We will also visit the remarkable Newfoundland Memorial Park, perhaps the best place to see the layout of a Somme battlefield. We stay for two nights in the nearby town of Albert. Tonight we will eat in the hotel and the cost of that meal is included in the tour price.
We take it easy on day 3 and the emphasis today is less riding, less places to visit, a terrific location for lunch and generally we have a more relaxing day. We ride just 65 miles today. Before day 3 of this tour, we will have been to and seen many British cemeteries and will have noticed how they are often busy with visitors. First thing today, we will briefly contrast that with going to see a German cemetery. It was here that Manfred von Richthofen, more commonly known as the Red Baron, was buried after being shot down not far from away. Von Richthofen was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service. He is considered the ace-of-aces of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories. We then ride some terrific roads set in splendid French countryside, often riding alongside the River Somme and we spend the middle of the day in Amiens, having lunch by the river and visiting the nearby Cathedral, before riding back on more great roads.
Day 4 is when we ride back to Calais, but as we leave Albert we will stop and see a few more battle sites and the small Poziere tank memorial, before moving on to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of The Somme, which is a major war memorial to 72,195 missing British and South African men who died in the Battle of The Somme with no known grave. It is a very moving and solemn indeed and a very appropriate place for us to lay a wreath. We then visit the Ulster Tower and then ride back 111 miles to Calais on a mixture of road types where we catch an afternoon train back to Folkestone. We arrive back in the UK at about 4pm UK time.
- Crossing the English Channel (normally done by Eurotunnel train)
- Three star accommodation in terrific locations
- Breakfast every day
- 1 evening meal
- Well researched routes to provide you with fantastic roads to ride
- Experienced tour guide to lead the tour
- A back marker / sweep
- Tour1 T-Shirt
- Comprehensive tour itinerary
- Booklet about WW1
- GPS routes for your sat nav
- Tips for riding in Europe guide
What’s not included….
- Accomodation before the tour starts, or after it ends
- Petrol (gas) you use
- Motorway and other road tolls
- All other meals and drinks
- Motorcycle rental, should you need it (we can help arrange this)
Our group sizes normally range from 10 to 14 motorcycles.
Each day, we normally start riding at 8.30am sharp and cover in the region of 70 to 120 miles. We try to avoid motorways wherever possible and only use these when there is no real alternative. We take mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks and of course find somewhere for lunch. Our plan is to normally arrive at that evening’s hotel by around 6pm.
We use good quality hotels – not super luxury and not bottom end, but mid-range – normally 3 or 4-star.
We ride at a pace to suit all of the riders. We stick to all speed limits in towns, but in rural areas we ride at, let’s call them ‘more appropriate’ speeds. We generally ride in staggered convoy on straighter roads.
As we have pre-booked hotels and a schedule to stick to, we ride in all weathers. During any exceptionally inclement weather, we will pull over for short periods. We could experience a range of different types of weather, so bring waterproofs, just in case.
Each of our rides has a difficulty rating and this tour is rated as ‘easy’. That means this tour can be ridden by any rider, but we expect that you have been riding large motorcycles for at least a year and that you have some experience of, and are comfortable with, riding in groups of at least eight motorcycles before. While it will be better if you have ridden in mainland Europe before, this is not essential. While there is not much motorway riding on the tour, as a guide, you will be expected to be able to ride at 70mph on motorways. We do not ride fast on this tour. There will be plenty of stops, and some days will be shorter, but the longest days will include around 9 hours of riding, with plenty of breaks.