battlefield tours

Just looking for a heads up on any good tours that don't cost an arm and a leg to the Somme or Ypres. Me and my mate, probably heading over in Autumn.
looked at a few but they seem to cater for numbers approaching 40. does anyone have experience of these? Are they any good, or is it better to go with a smaller group setup?
Cheers for any help you can give.
Get Maj & Mrs Holt's guide to the Ypres Salient or the Somme and do your own tour. If you can lay in a copy, the Then & Now books are pretty good, as is anything by Lyn McDonald.

July 2006 will be the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, Oct 2007 the 90th anniversary of 3rd Ypres (Passchedaele).

If you're going to Ypres, make sure to be under the Menin Gate at 8 pm one evening for the last Post being played by the local Fire Brigade, the Belgian variety not being as workshy as some .....

Other "must see" sites near Ypres are Tyne Cot - the largest CWGC cemetary in the World, the German cemetary at Langemark, Hooge crater, Essex Farm cemetary and the dressing station John McCrea worked at.

Accomodation should be plentiful, although note the anniversaries above, and of course the times around Armistice Day will probably be busier than normal. If you're going to Ypres, the Hotel Zweerd (sp?, whatever "sword" is in Flemish) is basic but OK. There are also rooms available at the Hellfire Corner bokshop as I recall.
You could try this firm using the self-drive option for the Somme and Ypres. A friend of mine did and thoroughly enjoyed himself. The material they give you is first class.

Battlefield Tours
I agree with Fluffy Bunny. You have loads of time between now and autumn. Read loads, design your own tour, enjoy the fact that you do not have to stick to an itinerary that a commercial firm would impose on you. Good luck!
The Royal British legion run cheap tours to Ypres and the Somme. These are aimed at a less affluent market than Holts. Here is the site.

The reasons for doing this rather than going on your own.

1. The guides are usually ex officers who know their subjects well. They know the area and the places to see - not all of these are the obvious ones in the tourist trail.

2. Travel is booked centrally and they get good rates for travel and accommodation, even fcompared to doing it yoursel;f.

You will obviously lrearn a lot and can have a lot of fun carrying out your own reasearch, but the trade off is in time and access to expertise.
You could do much worse than paying John Woolsgrove a visit. Apart from being a walking encyclopaedia, the nondescript regulars in his bar usually include a couple of notable authors -- great way of rounding off a day in the field. Clicky.

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