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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Holts Battelfield Tours - the Belgian Forts

Last weekend I was on this Holts trip to the East of Belgium for a visit to five forts. 24 of us (20 men 4 women). We travelled by coach and stayed at the Ramada Plaza Hotel In Liege.

Our group outside Fort Lantin

Day 1 - Friday - out of bed at 03:45, to be driven to Leeds by B for the 05:05 train to Kings Cross Station, London, to arrive at 07:30, then cross Central London to Victoria Coach Station for 08:45. Break down outside Grantham, I found myself remarkably unfazed by this (c'est la vie). Arrive Kings Cross 08:15, use the London Underground and swift walk to arrive at the coach stand at 08:44.

The coach drives across Kent to arrive in Dover, then ferry to Calais. Lunch on the ferry, industrial fish & chips & mushy peas but I'm too hungry to resist. Then a 5 hour drive through Belgium to Liege.

Day 2 - Saturday - Liege has a ring of 12 forts built in the late 19th century. We visited 2.

Fort Loncin, which in August 1914 withstood several days of siege until bombarded by Big Bertha 42cm gun. It blew up, killing approx. 350 of the garrison. It is now a national monument.

Fort Lantin, which also withstood several days of siege, but surrendered due to structural damage and the build up of gases.

Day 3 - Sunday - during the 1930's, 4 new forts were built. Again we visited 2.

Fort Eben Emael - one of the largest forts in Europe at the time, famous for its size and for the audacious way the German captured it in 30 hours, using glider-borne assault troops. A wonderful site, very well maintained.

Fort Tancrémont - a smaller fort, dark and cold and damp - again another wonderful site.

Day 4 - Monday - travelling back across Belgium, we visited Antwerp. The city was to be the National Redoubt and had a lot of fortifications. We visited Fort No. 5, which is now at the centre of a public park. Lunch in Antwerp then over to Calais for the ferry. Dinner on the ferry - lamb curry with no lamb - I'll never learn.

20:45 arrive at Victoria Coach Station, then London Underground to Kings Cross Rail Station for the 22:00 train to York. Collected at the station by B, home by 01:00

A wonderful trip, only marred by the mediocre catering at the hotel and on the ferry. A good group of fellow travellers. I have around 320 photos to review, I will make fuller reports during the Autumn.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to more photos. The statue coming out of the ground is rather different.