Author Topic: Ypres & the Battlefields  (Read 649 times)

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Ypres & the Battlefields
« on: May 19, 2017, 11:13:01 am »
I'm spending a few days in Ypres in August with some friends who cycle, but aren't exactly fast or fit. 25-40 miles in a day would be pushing it.


Any recommendations for some easy routes taking in the battlefields based around Ypres itself?


Poperinge will be on the list, if only to wince at the hop beer there as it sinks down.
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

tippers_kiwi

  • Audax, what's that then? Oh!
    • The Road beyond PBP 2015
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2017, 02:20:43 pm »
I did a tour round there on the Fixed gear last year, loved it.

My whole route is HERE The loop I did out of Ypres was about 60km but thats easy to cut down. It's a pretty emotional place when you start riding past all those cemeteries!

I bought a copy of a book called Before Endeavours Fade and used one for the routes in there. It was good reading and it was good to know a few little extras (Like the lakes created by the underground explosions)

There  are also the Demarkation stones spread around where the frontline was which makes a fun ride to go and find all of them.

Ypres itself was awesome and the Remembrance Service every night was very reflective.


LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2017, 02:31:14 pm »
My Son (who has, to my delight, taken to cycle-touring recently) took some of his young & trendy friends cycling around the battlefields.

>>> >>> HERE <<<

Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

robgul

  • HoECC & Cycle:End-to-End webmaster
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Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 02:50:15 pm »
We've been on a club tour a couple of times (last time was in 2016) - staying at Ypres.

There's a very well sign-posted route - the Peace Route - that's a big loop around Ypres with lost of the "popular" sites - it works well to do as 2 separate days - ride half and then head back to Ypres, next morning retrace and continue the loop.

It's all very interesting and quite moving - a must is the Menin Gate ceremony at 2000 every night.

If you wand to borrow the guide book and/or maps you know where I live  (and I haven't forgotten the bikes for CfC but will be away from today until next Thursday)

Rob

Rob

Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 03:49:57 pm »
Make sure you include Ploegsteert woods and go into the wood itself, past Prowse point. There was hand to hand fighting in the woods during 1914 and it is situated very close to where the famous fraternisation 'football match' took place at Christmas 14. The reason I mention it is due to the atmosphere in the woods being  extraordinairy and something to be experienced. There are several small cemeteries within along the line of the path. Spanbroekmolen is also worth a visit. There is still an unexploded mine out there somewhere containing something like 50 or 60,000 lbs of amatol.
'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'.

Martin John Rees.

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2017, 04:06:51 pm »
Thanks everyone so far for the tips. I'll read more fully later.

I saw the Menin Gate ceremony a few years back on a rainy day & found it very moving, especially as the mate I was with was the grandson of someone on the Gate itself. I vowed to return & it's this year.

Belgian beer is also a contributory factor...
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

tippers_kiwi

  • Audax, what's that then? Oh!
    • The Road beyond PBP 2015
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2017, 04:51:34 pm »
There is a Beer Cafe in the Middle of Ypres....it was brilliant! Hic  :facepalm:

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2017, 08:03:22 am »
I've looked at the video and Strava routes. Very inspirational. I also bought a copy of  Before Endeavours Fade to read before the event. We'll only have a couple of days, but that will be enough to see the major sites, I'm hoping.
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

Pedal Castro

  • so talented I can run with scissors - ouch!
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Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2017, 12:49:01 pm »
+1 for the Peace Route, get the map from the tourist info in the centre of Ypres. I took a group from school there two years ago, nice easy riding form beginners. The underground cold war bunker near Kemmelberg  is also well worth a visit but you have to book beforehand from the tourist info in Kemmelberg and it's not open everyday so if you aren't there long it's not easy to fit in. Also it's only a short ride to Westveleten from Ypres!!!

Psychler

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Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2017, 10:37:59 pm »
I've had a couple of trips to Ypres over the last few years. We stay in the Hotel Alliance in Ypres which is approx 100 yards from the Grand Place, they are happy to accomodate bikes.  There are plenty of bars and restaurants in and around the Grand Place and the In Flanders Field museum in the Cloth Hall is well worth a visit.  A word of caution - the streets of Ypres are nearly all cobbled, not great for riding on.

You haven't said how you're getting to Ypres. if you're driving, then parking within the walls can be a bit of a problem and expensive.  However if you drive out through the Menin Gate, cross the moat and take the first right, then after about 500 yards there is ample free parking on the road side.  I left my car there on both trips with no issues.

When driving or cycling in Ypres itself, pedestrians very much expect to have the right of way so be careful.

To the N/NE of Ypres the following are worth a visit.
Essex Farm - on the west bank of the canal leading north from Ypres.  Cemetery and bunkers which formed a dressing station.  It was here that John McCrae wrote "In Flanders Field the poppies grow..." etc.  The cemetery contains the grave of Valentine Strudwick, aged 15, one of the youngest soldiers to die in the war.

In Langemark, the Langemark German Cemetery - contains statues known as the "Mourning Soldier" and three original German bunkers.  The Harry Patch Memorial is on the bank of a small river, it's a small memorial commemorating where Harry Patch fought.

In nearby Poelkapelle - there is a memorial to French pilot Georges Guynemer in the form of a column with a stork on it.  Passendale - not a lot here but the Carolus Bar sells Passchendaele beer, the bottles make a good souvenir.  About a mile SW of Passendale is the Tyne Cott cemetery, this is a must visit for its sheer size if nothing else.

To the E/SE.
About 4 miles due E of Ypres is Polygon Wood.  in it's NW corner, there is a bar called Cafe de Dreve, which contains lots of WW1 exhibits. It's proprietor is Johann Vandewalle; he is a mine of information about the area and WW1, having appeared quite regularly on TV, and will happily talk to you.

Roughly two miles SW of Polygon Wood is Hill 62.  As well as the cemetery, there is a small privately owned museum to the rear of which are some preserved trenches.  The museum apparently hasn't changed much in 80 odd years but there is some debate about the whether the trenches are original or reconstructions.

About a further mile SW is Hill 60, there used to be a museum here [closed when I was last there] but there is an area of cratered land with a couple of bunkers.

Leaving Ypres to the S, via "Shrapnel Corner" [a roundabout], you can follow the main road [not too busy] through St Eloi, passed Wijschate ["Whitesheets"] to Messines, along the top of the Messines ridge.  In Messines there is the Vivaldi Cafe [well worth a visit, they serve Duval] and the Ulster Tower.  The road drops down from the ridge and continues south to Ploegstraat ["Plugstreet"].  On the way into Plugstreet you pass the Hyde Park Cemetery with a large memorial and two stone lions.  Opposite this is the much smaller Hyde Park Cemetery Extension.  Buried here in the front row [of about five] is Ronnie Poulton-Palmer, England rugby captain and heir to Huntley and Palmers biscuits.  Also buried in the front row is Rifleman S McBride, who was executed for desertion.

There is a bar next to this and behind them is Plugstreet Wood.  As Canardly said, this is well worth going into just to experience the atmosphere, I'm sure that the temperature drops by several degrees as you go in.  If you retrack back up the main road towards Messines to St Yvon there is a track on the E side of the road, signposted to Prowse Point Cemetery, Mud Corner Cemetery etc etc. This is the best way into the forest but these are at best farm tracks, at worst muddy footpaths.  Look out for eroded trench lines and derelict bunkers in the woods.

If you return to the main road and head S again it will take you through Ploegstraat all the way to Armentierres if you want to go that far.  In Ploegstraat there is a plaque to Winston Churchill as he was stationed here, as was Bruce Bairnsfather [the cartoonist].

To the W of the Ypres-Ploegstraat road are a series of craters, including Spanbroekmolen [the "Peace Pool", not far from Wijschate], again as Canardly said, well worth a visit. 

Also, about half a mile W of Ypres road north of Wijschate is the Crooneart Wood which contains the Bayernwald trench system.  Entry to this is via tickets from the tourist office in Kemmel, which allows access through the perimeter fencing.  There is a small charge.  Watch out for Kemmelberg ["Mount Kemmel"], it's pretty steep.  In fact the area of Heuveland, to the SW of Ypres is quite hilly.

About 4 miles to the W of Ypres, is the Brandhoek New Military Cemetery.  Here is buried Captain Noel Chavasse VC and Bar, his grave is right next to the cross.  There are several German graves in the cemetery as well.

If you continue W another three miles [avoid the main road], you get to Poperinghe.  Here there is Talbot House [home of "Toc H"], in the main square there are Cafe a la Fabrique, La Poupee and Cafe de Esperance, all apparently well known to British troops [look out for the plaque about "Ginger"].  On the E side of the main squre is a building [I think it's the old town hall] which has a courtyard.  If you go into this you will see the condemned cell and the execution post.

There are no end of memorials, cemeteries and old bunkers that you will come across, especially if you don't mind following a dirt track or two.  Generally the cycling is pretty flat, certanly to the east of Ypres and the Messine Ridge.  To the west can be quite hilly in places.

One word of warning, if you're heading from Plugstreet towards Wambrechies [on the road to Lille] don't be tempted to try and cross the river at Pont Rouge.  The maps show the bridge as viable but when we got there, after a 70 mile loop from Lille, it was derelict.  After a very long and tiring day it was all we needed.
I'm gonna limp to the pub and drink 'til the rest of me is as numb as my arse.

Regulator

  • Got a thing for rubber...
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2017, 08:00:15 am »
Quote from: clarion
I completely agree with Reg.

Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2017, 10:56:08 am »

One word of warning, if you're heading from Plugstreet towards Wambrechies [on the road to Lille] don't be tempted to try and cross the river at Pont Rouge.  The maps show the bridge as viable but when we got there, after a 70 mile loop from Lille, it was derelict.  After a very long and tiring day it was all we needed.

Hi Psychler,

Thank you for a comprehensive list of things to see and do around Ypres/Ieper, I now know where to go next time I manage to get away to West Vlaanderen.

Just one thing, when was your unsuccessful attempt to cross Pont Rouge, as it was definitely there and crossable in September 2015. (Assuming that you mean the Pont Rouge over the Leie near Deûlémont in France and Comines-Warneton in Belgium. )

Pictures of Pont Rouge, looking towards Belgium and then France.

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Psychler

  • Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr........
  • 33.2 miles from Steeple Bumpstead
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2017, 01:17:38 pm »
Yes, that's the one!

Excellent, it's been repaired/re-built.  Here it is in 2008

The Red Bridge by steve.stuckey, on Flickr


I'm gonna limp to the pub and drink 'til the rest of me is as numb as my arse.

Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2017, 01:23:41 pm »
Looking at the lattice work sides on your pic I would lean towards rebuilt, if not demolished and replaced with a new one. It certainly felt like a new bridge deck!

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British Cycling Regional Track Commissaire
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Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2017, 01:32:15 pm »
The one time mayor of Zonnebeke possessed both a shell casing from Big Bertha and one from Long Max. He had them in his hall and used them as dinner gongs. Quite how he came by them I don't know. Each casing was stamped with a  number on the base as it was fired, so in theory at least, it should be possible to identify the target.  Each shell fired on Paris, for example, was logged and mapped.
'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'.

Martin John Rees.

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2017, 01:38:18 pm »
You haven't said how you're getting to Ypres. if you're driving, then parking within the walls can be a bit of a problem and expensive.  However if you drive out through the Menin Gate, cross the moat and take the first right, then after about 500 yards there is ample free parking on the road side.  I left my car there on both trips with no issues.
Thanks for the rest of the info. I don't spose you can pinpoint a road name for that parking, can you? We are driving and staying at an Airbnb that hasn't got free parking.

We stayed at Talbot House last time we were over & went to see the firing post in the courtyard you mentioned.
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

Psychler

  • Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr........
  • 33.2 miles from Steeple Bumpstead
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2017, 01:59:17 pm »
Cycle Travel says "Hornwerk" which becomes "Leopold 111 Iaan".  It runs along the side of the moat just outside the Menen Gate.
I'm gonna limp to the pub and drink 'til the rest of me is as numb as my arse.

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2017, 03:46:18 pm »
Thanks Psychler !
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

Psychler

  • Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr........
  • 33.2 miles from Steeple Bumpstead
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2017, 04:44:59 pm »
Not a problem, I can supply some pretty accurate latitude and longitude coordinates for various sights/places [particularly bunkers etc] if you are GPS enabled.  It'll take a day or two to get them but let me know if you want.

I'm gonna limp to the pub and drink 'til the rest of me is as numb as my arse.

Torslanda

  • Professional Gobshite
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Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2017, 06:45:22 pm »
The roundabout indicated HERE - bottom-centre is the start of the parking area...
VELOMANCER

Well that's the more blunt way of putting it but as usual he's dead right.

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2017, 02:50:38 pm »
Ta! Being a luddite, I'll not need the GPS information, but the offer is appreciated.
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Re: Ypres & the Battlefields
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2017, 10:59:37 pm »
Just got the book. A real labour of love and very comprehensive. Good tip.
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.