...another 'Battleground' guide from Pen and Sword
Title: Walking Ypres
Author: Paul Reed
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
I am a fan of these Battleground Guides from Pen and Sword, and author Paul Reed has done another excellent job with this new addition to the series which has been brought up to date. As he points out in the introduction, new developments have changed the landscape in some respects, but by taking the walks described in the book, along with his notes explaining what you can see still, and what happened during the war at various locations as you go round each of the routes. The stories are brought to life thanks to the inclusion of excerpts from personal accounts of some of those who were there, along with maps, diagrams showing particular detail and appropriate archive photos all help to bring the stories to life. It was one of the main areas of action for the British Army throughout the war, and centred around the town of Ypres itself. As early as 1919 the tours started when relatives wanted to visit the battlefields where their loved ones had fought, and in many cases, died. That attraction continues to this day, with regular crowds attending the nightly ceremony of the sounding of the Last Post under the Menin Gate each night.
All the walks are described so you can park your car and then complete a circular walk around a particular route and have the route end conveniently back at the car. I'll name the 14 walks described, which are the chapter titles, as almost every one will ring a bell and give a good idea of how many well known names from WW1 are in the area around Ypres. It starts with a walk round the town of Ypres itself, and of course takes in the huge Cloth Hall, now fully restored, and ending at the famous Menin Gate. The Menin Gate is also the starting point for walk 2, to Hellfire Corner and Potijze Walk. Number 3 is the Ypres Canal Walk, from Ypres to Boesinghe. Walk/chapter 4 takes you to Sanctuary Wood, Hooge and the Bellewaarde Ridge Walk. Walk 5 is the Zillebeke Walk and 6 covers The Bluff and Hill 60. Walk 7 takes you on the Langemarck Walk while 8 is Paschendaele. Walk 9 takes you behind the lines, Brandhoek to Vlamertinghe. Poperinghe Town walk makes number 10 and Locre-Kemmel is number 11. Walk 12 is the 'Whitesheet Walk' and the final two take in Messines Ridge and 'Plugstreet Wood'.
The detailed guide, added to the stories, the maps and the photos give you an excellent idea of what you will find, and all in a format that is so convenient to keep in the car or a backpack if you visit the area. Definitely a book I will take with me on my next trip and certainly one I would recommend.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.