Walking Waterloo

The Campaign on Foot

BattlefieldHistoryWalking

Tour Introduction

Your hosts know the Waterloo battlefields well and will provide a running (well walking!) commentary, Ashley from the perspective of Wellington and Alan from that of Napoleon. In this way you will better understand the factors and terrain that influenced each commander’s decision-making process, a process that encourages lively debate with guests. We will be covering 5 – 8 miles per day, so you will need to be reasonably fit. Once away from the busy Visitor Centre and main road, the Waterloo battlefields are surprisingly peaceful and atmospheric and being set in gentle rolling countryside makes for particularly pleasant walking. Whether or not you have visited Waterloo before, this is a great opportunity to see the ground from a soldier’s viewpoint in the convivial company of two people who know it intimately.

Background

On the night of 14 June 1815 near Charleroi in Belgium, the Emperor Napoleon crossed the border with his Grand Armée taking his adversaries by surprise. After attempting to halt Napoleon in twin battles at Quatre Bras and Ligny, Anglo-Dutch and Prussian armies - under the resolute and skilful leadership of the Duke of Wellington and Field Marshal Blucher respectively - conducted separate withdrawals to rendezvous on a ridge in front of the town of Waterloo. Here, the Allies inflicted a decisive defeat of the French army in a battle that would be referred to by the Duke as ‘a near run thing’. Napoleon, abdicating for a second time, would end his days on the remote Atlantic island of St Helena from where death would be his only escape.

Highlights

"Both guides were excellent, and there was a good balance between military history and local sightseeing"

What You Said:

Itinerary

Day 1 – Sambre Valley

Depart London St Pancras by Eurostar to Lille and thence by coach to the beautiful Sambre Valley to see where Napoleon staged the surprise crossings which almost cost Wellington the campaign. Then to our hotel in the centre of Waterloo, our base for the tour.

Day 2 – Ligny & Quatre Bras

We walk the length of the French line and drop down into Ligny to examine its tenacious defence by relatively inexperienced Prussian troops. We walk up the far side to get a panoramic view of the battlefield from Blucher’s command post – reputedly where Blucher and Wellington met prior to the battle. We then switch to the battlefield of Quatre Bras and pick up the story over lunch at Pierrepont farmhouse (now golf club) where French and Anglo-Dutch troops first clashed. We view the battlefield of from the strategic crossroads - Wellington’s command post, walk out to his vital left flank and thence cross the centre of the battlefield to the spot where the Duke of Brunswick was killed. We end our day by following the route of Wellington’s skilful withdrawal through Genappe to Waterloo (and briefly the final flight of Napoleon from Waterloo).

Day 3 – Waterloo

An early start from Napoleon’s command post at La Belle Alliance to walk the route of d’Erlon’s divisions as they marched up towards the centre of the Allied ridge, taking in the French gun line, the struggle for La Haye Sainte, Picton’s defence of the ridge and the British cavalry counter-attacks. Switch by coach to the French left flank and follow Jerome’s attack on Hougoumont – and examine its heroic defence by viewing the recently restored buildings and excellent 3D presentation. Thence we walk the entire length of the Allied ridge to Wellington’s left flank at Smohain and out to Paris Wood to pick up the Prussian advance into Plancenoit – where we discuss its defence by French imperial Guard troops at a café in the pretty village square. As a finale, we walk the route of the Imperial Guard to the very site where they clashed with Wellingtons elite Guards and Light troops. The story of the battle will unfold as we go along and the coach will be on call to shorten the route for those who need to.

Day 4 – Finale

The final morning is given over to visiting Wellington’s HQ in Waterloo town and the excellent new Visitor Centre on the battlefield. Then back to Brussels to catch our Eurostar train getting us back to London by early evening.

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Walking Waterloo

Tour Dates

29th September - 2nd October 2017 (4 Days)

Eurostar Standard Premier, 4 star hotel, buffet breakfast, one lunch, 3-course dinner with drinks each evening, all entrance fees and expert guides throughout.

Guides : Alan Rooney & Major General Ashley Truluck CB CBE BA

Tour price: £1295.00

Single supplement: £155.00

Deposit: £125.00

Price without flights: £1145.00

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