Commemorate the Centenary of the First World War

Walk in the footsteps of those who fought 100 years ago while supporting the soldiers and veterans of today.

2018 sees the end of the Centenary years, to mark this you can choose between two routes. Click on the pictures below for more information.


The Hundred Days Offensive - 3rd to 7th October 2018 The Western Front - 10th to 14th October 2018

 

The Frontline Walk is a 100km hike across the Western Front of World War I. Register for just £135 before January 31st 2018, and fundraise for soldiers, veterans, and their immediate families, whilst commemorating those who fought over a century ago.


The Hundred Days Offensive

What is it?

A 100km walk following the last 100 days of the First World War

When is it?

3rd – 7th October 2018.

The Hundred Days Offensive began with the Battle of Amiens, and was a combined effort with Australian, Canadian, British and French forces.

The Walk will start near Arras and finish at St Symphorien Military Cemetery, the final resting place of the first British casualty of WWI, John Parr and the last British casualty, George Ellison, where the top three fundraisers will lay a wreath in commemoration.

In total the First World War claimed the lives of over 18 million people, and touched many many more. The finishing point is particularly poignant as it commemorates not only the Allied Forces but the Central Powers as well.

Join us in a final fitting tribute to commemorate this final offensive, experience the history brought to life by Historian Steve Roberts, and forge friendships which will last long after the aches and pains have faded.


The Western Front

What is it?

A 100km walk following the Western Front of the First World War.

When is it?

10th – 14th October 2018.

Covering 100km of the Western Front, the Walk starts at Lochnagar Crater, the location of the start of the Battle of the Somme, and finishes at the Menin Gate, with the Ceremony of the Last Post.

Visiting important and emotive memorials and cemeteries such as Thiepval Memorial, the Ulster Tower, Neuville Saint Vaast and Notre Dame de Lorette, Historian Steve Roberts will bring the history to life and the friendships you make will stay long after your weary limbs have recovered.

The top three fundraisers will have the opportunity to be part of The Soldiers’ Charity Frontline Walk team to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate, a once in a life time chance to take part in the emotional final salute to the fallen.


“The most emotionally and physically challenging event I have ever had the privilege to be part of”

– Paul Critchley, 2016 participant


Registration

Registration for The Frontline Walk is £150 per person.

Early Bird Offer: £135 per person before 31st January 2018.

Fundraising

We ask you to commit to raising £1,250 to help soldiers, veterans and their families.

What’s included

We provide return travel from London to France, accommodation, transfers within France and Belgium, all meals from lunch on day 1 to breakfast on day 5, water and snacks on trekking days and medical support. This is covered by your registration fee and the initial £550 of your fundraising which must be raised by 31st July 2018 to confirm your place

Have a question?

For more information please contact Amy on akenyon@soldierscharity.org or call 020 7811 3960.


Walking through the different areas you get a real feel for what it was like back then”

– Kevin Wenderott, 2015 participant

The Route

The Frontline Walk takes in many of the most iconic battlefields and cemeteries on the Western Front.

Below you can see the route for The Frontline Walk 2017, following the battlefields of the Somme and Passchendaele.

The 2018 route will be announced soon.

Walking day 1

Frontline Walk - Day 1 Route

Walking day 2

Frontline Walk - Day 2 Route

Walking day 3

Frontline Walk - Day 3 Route


Fundraising

We ask you to commit to raising a minimum of £1,250 in sponsorship. £550 of this must be raised by the 31st July 2018 to confirm your place on the Walk. The deadline for the remainder is the 31st December 2018.

The money you raise will help us support soldiers, veterans and their families. Read about some of the soldiers we have helped in our ‘stories’ section.

We’ll be here to support you every step of the way, with fundraising materials, and useful tips and suggestions to boost your fundraising.

“The walk was tough and emotional, but I enjoyed it all. Everyone in the group was amazing – they gave encouragement and support to all”

– Kate Metcalfe, 2014 participant

 

The history behind The Frontline Walk

The First World War was one of the most costly conflicts in history, plunging Europe into an unrelenting chaos that ultimately claimed the lives of over 11,000,000 people.

As the 100th anniversary year of the outbreak of the war approached, The Soldiers’ Charity wanted to hold an event to mark it in a fitting way, paying tribute to the millons of lives lost, and the millions more affected.

The Frontline Walk took on a route that would see participants trek their way around the old Western Front, visiting some of the most iconic sights of the now peaceful, but once nightmarish place.

The Somme

British soldiers advancing on the Somme
British soldiers advance through No Man’s Land during the Battle of the Somme in 1916

The Frontline Walk starts in what is one of the most famous areas of the Western Front; The Somme. With the French tied up in a bloody battle of seemingly endless attrition at Verdun, the British launched an offensive around the River Somme in northern France on 1st July 1916.

Leaving their trenches under a brilliant sunshine, the British troops soon faced a barrage of German bullets, cutting down entire battalions within minutes and changing the landscapes of villages, towns and cities back in Britain forever.

It was the costliest day in British military history, with over 60,000 casualties sustained, 20,000 of whom were killed. Far from being a quick campaign, the Battle of the Somme raged until November, ultimately finishing with no clear winner, and nearly 1 million dead or wounded.

“Somme. The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word.”

Friedrich Steinbrecher, German officer at the Somme in 1916

Into Belgium

The Frontline Walk makes its way into Belgium, invaded in the summer of 1914 by the German Army and where the British Expeditionary Force first made contact with the enemy.

From the Battle of Mons where the British faced off against the invading German forces on the banks of the town’s canal, to the unrelenting quagmire that symbolised the futility and bloodshed of 1917 around Passchendaele, Belgium is rich in WWI military history.

The Frontline Walk’s route takes you on a journey through some of the most iconic battlefields before ending up at the Menin Gate in the city of Ypres.

The city of Ypres before and after the war
An aerial view of the city of Ypres before (left) and after the war, showing the massive destruction the city endured.

Ypres, home to it’s famous 13th century cloth hall was the scene of numerous and intensive battles over the course of the war, and was reduced almost entirely to rubble as German and Allied forces competed for control.

It was the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 that became infamous for the mud and futility of the war. With seemingly unending rainfall, the already artillery blasted meadows and fields around Ypres become a quagmire of mud and filth, sucking in men, horses and equipment.

Over 400,000 casualties were sustained by Allied and German forces in one of the costliest campaigns of the First World War. Over 54,000 names of the missing of the three battles of Ypres are inscribed on the Menin Gate, now a focal point in the city which sees the Last Post played each night at 8pm, an act of remembrance that, with the exception of the years of German occupation during WW2, has continued uninterrupted since 1928.


Discover your own family history

If you are interested in exploring your family history, contact Terry Whenham, of Terry’s Research and Tours. Terry has been researching WWI history for the past 15 years. He gathers as much information as possible about the family and soldier in question and pieces together the individual’s story, presenting you with a digital record of your ancestors’ war record, together with any photos or copies of relevant documents that he finds during his research.

Get in touch with Terry via his website or by emailing him at terry@terrystours.co.uk.

Previous Frontline Walks


“I think I have had the most amazing experience of my life. I have met a group of people who will, I have no doubt, be friends for life”

James Harcus, Frontline Walk 2016 participant

In 2014 ABF The Soldiers’ Charity launched the first Frontline Walk to commemorate the First World War centenary and raise funds to support today’s soldiers. Since then over 310 people have taken part in The Frontline Walk – an incredible mix of people each with their own reasons for taking part – some with a keen interest in the First World War, some simply enthusiastic walkers and some serving and retired soldiers.

Personal journeys

What these men sacrificed 100 years ago means so much to me

– Tom Saunders, 2015 participant

Many walkers chose to walk in memory of a relative who was lost during the war, or for their regimental ancestors who sacrificed so much during the War

Those taking personal journeys were struck by the deeply personal connections they felt when visiting the graves of relatives, or when they found graves of soldiers who had fought in their regiment, such is the overwhelming poignancy felt when visiting the now peaceful battlefields of such a costly war.

Kemmel cemetery
The gravestones at the military cemeteries are kept and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

“The terrain was breath-taking and moving at the same time, but the best thing was the camaraderie – everyone helped each other, it was brilliant!”

– Robert Scalzo, 2015 participant

German war graves

Winding its way through the Western Front, The Frontline Walk also took in a number of German cemeteries along the way, such as Neuville St. Vaast, where over 44,000 German soldiers are buried or commemorated.

It was a chance for the walkers to pay their respects to the fallen on the other side of the War; the dark crosses of German graves contrasting sharply to the bright, white stone of the British & Commonwealth headstones.

German cross at Neuville St. Vaast cemetery
The sun rises at Neuville St. Vaast, where over 44,000 German war dead are buried or commemorated.

The Last Post at Menin Gate

The Frontline Walk ends under the Menin Gate, located in the historic city of Ypres, bitterly fought over on numerous occasions. Now a bustling city popular with tourists, the memory of the Great War is never far away, with the main road coming to a standstill at 8pm every night as it passes through the Menin Gate for the Last Post ceremony.

On the last day at the Menin Gate, tears flowed and chests heaved with pride. Myself, I was quiet, the enormity of the loss of life truly hitting home

– Steven Hall, 2015 participant

The Menin Gate, imposing and breathtaking is inscribed with the names of 54,896 names of British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in action but who’s graves are unknown. The playing of the Last Post, every night, was started in 1927 as a way for the local population to show their thanks for the huge sacrifices made in freeing their country, and with the exception of the German occupation of the Second World War, has continued uninterrupted since 1928.

Each year our top three fundraisers have the privilege of being able to lay down a ceremonial poppy wreath during the ceremony, which was packed with hundreds of locals, tourists, school children and of course, our Frontline Walkers.

The Menin Gate
The Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate has continued uninterrupted since 1928, with the exception of the Second World War.

 

If you have any questions we’d love to hear from you. Please give Amy a call on 0207 811 3960 or contact her via email.

Partners

Military History Monthly

We’re delighted to announce that leading history magazine Military History Monthly are the Media Partner for the Frontline Walk.

Military History Monthly brings you the history of conflict, written by experts, with a compelling narrative that transports you to the thick of battle, from the 20th Century to the ancient world. You’ll find unparalleled coverage in every issue, with the latest research and detailed analysis from world-renowned historians. Examine the strategy and tactics used in battle and read eye-witness accounts, all put into context with detailed battle-maps and comprehensive timelines.

And that’s not all – in addition to the cutting-edge features, you’ll find sections dealing with the culture behind the conflict, as well as discerning book reviews, events, news, battlefield guides, and more – all accompanied by striking graphics and illustrations.

Click here to set up a subscription. A Military History Monthly annual subscription (12 issues) is £45.95 when paying by card or cheque, and £43.95 when paying by Direct Debit.

Steve Roberts Military Ancestry

Steve Roberts is the historical guide on the Frontline Walk.

Steve Roberts Military Ancestry offers a reliable, bespoke research service based on twenty years’ experience at numerous archives and repositories throughout the United Kingdom.

Steve is an ex-serviceman with a keen interest in military history, he holds a Masters Degree in British First World War Studies and has a proven track record in researching Britain’s armed forces for individual clients and a number of television documentaries.

Classic Challenge 

Classic Challenge has been leading the way in charity challenges since they originated the concept in 1992. Since then more than £100 million has been raised for hundreds of charities. 65,000 people have cycled, trekked, run, climbed mountains and ridden horses to all corners of the globe while taking part in a charity challenge event for Classic Challenge.

FAQs

What is the itinerary of The Frontline Walk?

The Frontline Walk takes place over 5 days. We meet in London on day 1 and return to London on day 5. The actual walking takes place over days 2-4.

What route will we walk?

The exact route varies each year and will be released closer to the Walk. You can see the 2017 route by clicking on “The Route” tab above.

How far will we walk each day?

This depends on the route, but we will walk an average of 33km a day. The first two days of walking are usually further than the last day.

Where do we meet?

We meet in Wellington Barracks on the morning of the first day (either 3rd October or 10th depending if you are doing week 1 or week 2).

Where do we return to?

We will return to Wellington Barracks on the fifth day (either 7th or 14th October depending on which dates you are registered for).

What are the timings of the Walk?

Meeting times for Wellington Barracks will be confirmed closer to the date, but we will depart in the morning of the first day and return in late afternoon of the fifth day. Specific timings for each walking day will be confirmed on The Frontline Walk, as they are subject to change dependent on weather.

What is included in the cost?

Your minimum sponsorship target, of £1,250, covers your transport (from London), accommodation and meals from lunch on day 1 to breakfast on day 5, water on trekking days, snacks, medical support and a charity t-shirt.

Why do I need to have raised £550 by the 31st July?

The Soldiers’ Charity covers your travel, accommodation and food, plus other expenses such as medical cover and support staff. We ask you to have raised £550 by the 31st July to ensure these costs are covered.

What happens if I do not reach £550 by the 31st July?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to take part.

What happens if I do not reach the minimum sponsorship target?

When you registered for The Frontline Walk you signed a waiver which stated that you understand you will be committing to paying the registration fee, and to raising the minimum sponsorship amount. We will do everything we can to help you raise the minimum sponsorship but failure to do so may prevent you from taking part in future events for The Soldiers’ Charity.

Is Gift Aid included in my sponsorship target?

The Soldiers’ Charity policy, like that of many other charities, is that Gift Aid is not included in minimum sponsorship targets.

Can we fundraise jointly as a team?

Yes, absolutely – it can make your fundraising target easier to meet if you fundraise together. You can even have a team fundraising page. Just remember that the sponsorship target is per person, so if your individual target is £1,250 and you fundraise as a pair, you’ll need to raise £2,500 together.

Is there an age restriction?

The minimum age is 18 for the Frontline Walk. There is no upper age limit, but if you are over 65 at the start of the Walk you will need a doctor’s note from your GP confirming you are fit and healthy and there is no medical reason that you should not take part in the Walk.

How do I apply for matched funding from my employer?

Many companies will match up to 100% of the donations you collect. Each company has a different policy and so please contact your HR or CSR teams to find out more.

Can you supply Charity materials to help with fundraising?

Yes, simply e-mail us at events@soldierscharity.org for a list of available materials.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someone