The battle of Waterloo represents a great turning point in European history. This battle, more than any other in recent history, built the basis of modern Europe with its complex system of military and political alliances and broke the hold which Napoleon and France had held over the rest of the continent. Napoleon had returned from enforced exile to rapidly rebuild the sleeping giant which was the French army into a force to be reckoned with once again.
With the able and willing assistance of his Marshalls, Soult, Grouchy and particularly Ney, Napoleon met his greatest adversary, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, on the fields of Mont St. Jean, near to a small village which was to lend its name to one of the greatest battles in history - Waterloo !
After a drive from the channel our first stop is lunch to replenish the inner man ! Our tour starts the day before the battle when we examine the opening salvoes of the conflict, the battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras. These battles effectively placed the two opponents on their battle lines at the small nondescript village of Mont St. Jean.
After touring these battlefields we move on to the beautifully preserved Wellington museum in Waterloo itself to visit Wellington's Headquarters where he spent the night before the battle. There is a splendid audio guided tour of the house and the associated museum, and we will also visit the church opposite, dedicated to the combatants.
After spending the night at a hotel in the Waterloo area we spend the second day touring the battlefields of Waterloo proper. One of the enchanting aspects of the battle was that it was fought over a battlefield of no more than 3 miles wide and 1200 yards deep, and can be walked from end to end in a single day.
We start by visiting the magnificent Panorama, the remarkable 360 degree painting depicting various points in the battle, followed, by those who can manage it, a trek up to the top of the Butte De Lion ( The Lion Mound ) a monument built shortly after the battle in the 1820s to commemorate the wounding of the Prince of Orange, and from where we obtain a commanding view of the entire battlefield.
After catching our breath we then walk a short distance to the other side of the crossroads to where Sir Thomas Picton was standing his ground, waiting to repel the opening attack. After discussing the opening actions we rejoin the vehicle and drive to the opposite side of the battlefield to Napoleon's Grandstand by the inn "La Belle Alliance" from where Napoleon directed the opening attack. This provides and excellent view of the battlefield from the French perspective It also provides an excellent venue for lunch.
After lunch, seperate visits are made to the strongpoint positions at La Haie Saint and the North gate at Hougoumont Farm, pictured here.
Visits to Hougoumont are always subject to accessibility so it may not always be possible to enter the farm complex. However, it is usually possible to walk up to the perimeter of the farm to view the location.
Weather permitting we will walk the diagonal across the battlefield from La Belle Alliance to Mercer's Ridge where perhaps some of the most decisive actions of the day took place.
There is an option to stay on the battlefield and take an evening meal or leave the location and travel back to the coast and have a bite near the channel. If desired, the tour can be incorporated into a third day spent touring the Great War battlefields of Ypres.
Accomodation will be in one of the 3* hotels in and around Waterloo.
Prices are per person and start from, assuming two persons sharing:
Two days £699
Three days £869
Single room supplements of £30 will apply. This is a charge made by the hotel and is beyond my control. Please contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01842 862014, or write to: Past Endeavours, 18, Pashford Close, Lakenheath, Suffolk IP27 9ED