In August 1914 World War 1 began. It was a war that was truly worldwide with battles being fought in Africa, Asia, Western Europe and Russia. But many of the battles that we sadly recall – the Somme, Passendale, took place on the Western Front where the static line of trenches stretched some 450 miles from the North Sea to Switzerland. At the Peace Conference in Versailles in 1919 Europe was dramatically re-shaped and the new Europe that emerged was unrecognizable from that of 1914. But the peace that was so desired in 1919 only lasted until 1939.
It was also, as Kitchener prophesied, the first of the Industrial wars. The learning curve for Generals was brutal and steep. Massive artillery became the order of the day; the first use of Gas in warfare; the use airplanes and tanks; all designed to kill and destroy on a scale never known before. Whole villages ceased to exist – Messines, Passendale, Craonne - reduced to a mound of dirt. And the commensurate loss of human life defies belief. A total 10 million people lost their lives in this war. It was destruction and sacrifice on a scale that corrupts the imagination of all normal people.
The landscape still reflects the tragedy of the war. However, within that destruction, hundreds of war cemeteries have emerged and offer a tranquil and rare beauty when contrasted to the horrors of total destruction. On average they are about 4-8 km apart, they are caringly and beautifully maintained, peaceful and have become indelibly a garden and landscape of their own. The use of a bicycle offers a unique way, in quiet country lanes, to view and appreciate their enduring tranquility.
Our bicycle tours are personally guided and cover all ages and all abilities from 7 to 77 years old. Most of our tours are on the easy flat lands of Flanders but those in the Artois and Vimy regions, where the hills can be 200 meters high, may require a higher level of fitness. Our aim is not a race but to pleasantly journey along quiet and carefully selected lanes and roads, chosen for their historic and rural value.
We also offer multiple day tours. Theses tours are flexible and can be arranged in consultation with you when we mould the tour around your personal requirements. Although most of our tours commence around the area of Ypres, that is in the north, all tours can also be carried from the south towards the northern area. Tours can also be combined with hotel accommodation, boat, coach or train transportation. Indeed, contact us with your suggestions and we will work to make your journey a satisfying experience.