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Overview

History School Trips to the Western Front – Ypres Salient & the Somme

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For four years the Western Front was the destination of mud, blood and fighting. Now, for 100 years it has been the destination of learning, understanding and remembrance.

A journey into the area brings home the reality of the conflict, taking you through a landscape dotted with cemeteries and memorials – from the large and imposing areas dedicated to tens of thousands of servicemen and women, to the smaller and more personal areas erected to individual soldiers and regiments.

Walk through reconstructed trenches, stand on the very ground that men fought and died for and let your students understand the accounts of those who lived through the conflict.

Bring history to life

A helping hand from a History Tour Guide.
Expert knowledge, an understanding of your students’ educational and social needs and in-the-field assistance are just three of the benefits of opting for a History Tour Guide. We have carefully selected a handful of guides who specialise in various areas of history including WWI, WWII and the Holocaust.

Find out more about how a Battlefield Guide can enhance your school’s History Trip.

“An educationally enriching, moving experience for all concerned.”

Mr Joe Pepper, February 2016 - WWI Battlefields

“A powerful experience that brought the past to life and made the Great War relevant to all of us.”

Mike Dickins, Abbey Gate College - WWI Battlefields

“Visiting the Wellington Quarry in Arras. It really made the history come alive and was awe-inspiring for the students.”

Miriam Watson, June 2015 - WWI Battlefields

“A really effective and enjoyable educational experience for all involved, both students and staff.”

Launceston College, Mr Patrick Pugh - WWI Battlefields

“A wonderful experience that brought history to life.”

Mr Bret Hodgeman, December 2015 - WWI Centenary

Commemorating 100 years…

2014-2018 marks the centenary of WWI and there isn’t a better way to commemorate than with a battlefields trip. On the years running up to the start of the centenary many exhibitions and museums have undergone refurbishments such as the In Flanders Field Museum and the Paaschendaele Experience. Couple these extra special visits with some extra special offerings from Rayburn Tours, such as our unique local regiment and family history research service, and your trip will be an unforgettable one!

To find out what else is on offer in the regions to mark the centenary of the Second World War, visit the WWI Centenary page.

What other history teachers thought of Ypres and the Somme…

Our history clients rated their overall tour experience as 4.5 out of 5 and 95% said they would recommend a trip to the battlefields to a fellow teacher. Mrs Amy Kennedy of Saffron Walden County High School said, “It was a fantastic opportunity to try to understand the experiences of WWI and to make the students explore how it had such a major impact on so many people’s lives.”

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Our quick, online quote form allows our specialists to provide you with a bespoke quotation for a trip tailor-made to your group’s individual requirements.

  • English Literature

The Western Front
Fact File

Perfect for::
All secondary school students

Transport options:
Coach

Curricular Links:

  • Life on the frontline
  • Trenches and trench life
  • Command and leadership
  • War and technology
  • Women – their role and the impact of war on their lives
  • Medicine and medical advancement
  • The Home Front
  • The role of the Commonwealth and Empire troops
  • Writers and poets
  • Conflict and warfare over time

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Study Visits

Western Front Tour Study Visits

A History Trip to Ypres and the Somme provides students with an array of visits that will deepen their understanding of the WWI topics you have been teaching them about in the classroom. There are an abundance of visits to choose from and here are just some of our most highly recommended.

Visit
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Sanctuary Wood Tyne Cot Cemetary Langemarck German Cemetery Menin Gate Talbot House Death Cells and Execution Post Newfoundland Park Wellington Quarry Vimy Ridge Passchendale Thiepval Memorial Lochnagar Crater The Platoon Experience In Flanders Field Museum Historial de la Grande Guerre, Peronne Essex Farm Cemetery Hooge Crater Cemetery and Museum Delville Wood Musée des Abris Vancouver Crossroads
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Itineraries

Western Front Sample Itineraries

Your bespoke itinerary will include the appropriate balance of educational visits and leisure excursions to fill your chosen duration and meet your aims and objectives. Your dedicated School Tour Coordinator will offer advice and recommendations with the sole aim of creating the perfect itinerary for your group, but just to get you inspired, we have outlined the itineraries created for two of our clients below.

school-history-trips-to-wwi-battlefields-sample-itinerary-2

3 days,
2 nights

Dates: 22nd – 24th March 

Passengers: 48 students and 6 teachers

Accommodation: Poppies School Hotel

Board Basis: Full Board

Overview of visits: In Flanders Fields Museum, Menin Gate, Sanctuary Wood Museum, Hooge Crater Museum, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Langemarck German Cemetery, Vancouver Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery, New Military Cemetery, Musée d’Abris, Lochnagar Crater, Guillemont Road Cemetery, Thiepval Memorial and visitors centre, Newfoundland Park, Vimy Ridge Memorial.

View the full day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:

It was an early start for the group as they left school for the ferry at 6.30am. The group arrived at the Poppies School Hotel in Ypres just after lunch and after check-in, they enjoyed the short walk to the In Flanders Fields Museum. Here they re-lived the story of the First World War in the West Flanders front region. This was then followed by free time in Ypres to explore the many shops, bakeries, chocolatiers, and of course allowing enough time to visit the Menin Gate. The group came to together at the end of an extremely long day, enjoyed a hearty meal, before walking to the Menin Gate to take part in the ‘Last Post’ Ceremony. Next it was time for a much needed nights sleep.

Day 2:

After breakfast and filling their back packs with the packed lunches prepared by the hotel, the group departed along the Menin Road to Hell Fire Corner and arrived at Sanctuary Wood Museum, to view its collection of Great War artefacts and 4 dimensional photographs. Here they also experienced walking in the trenches, which gave them a taste of what life would have been like for the soldiers at that time.
Many students opted to visit the sites gift shop to purchase memorabilia.
It was then on to the Hooge Crater Museum with its full scale reconstruction of war scenes and its extended collection of weapons.
Stomachs now craving food, the group settled to eat their packed lunches. The afternoon was spent visiting the sites of Tyne Cot Cemetery, Langemarck German Cemetery, Vancouver Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery and New Military Cemetery, before returning back to the hotel to freshen up. The day had been full on for all involved, and emotions had been running high. The group returned to the hotel, quickly changed clothes before enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, before taking part in a game or two at the local bowling alley! This was the perfect end to their day.

Day 3:

The day started with a visit to the Musee d’Abris, Albert for a unique visit to a museum housed in the fortified tunnels that were dug below the town to protect the town’s citizens during the war. A picnic lunch was enjoyed, before moving onto the Lochnagar Crater and then Guillemont Road Cemetery where the group photographed the grave of Lt. Raymond Asquith, a man who came from the groups area. This was followed by a visit to Thiepval memorial and its visitors centre, Newfoundland Park and finally the Vimy Ridge memorial and Interpretation centre before returning home on an evening ferry.


Bespoke Quotation
school-history-trips-to-wwi-battlefields-sample-itinerary-1

4 days,
3 nights

Dates: 25th March – 28th March 

Passengers: 86 students and 12 teachers

Accommodation: Poppies d’Albert International School Hotel

Board Basis: Full Board

Overview of visits:Tyne Cot Cemetery, Essex Farm Cemetery, Poperinge, Langemarck, Talbot House, Sanctuary Wood, In Flanders Museum, Menin Gate, Lochnagar Crater, Delville Wood, Beaumont-Hamel, Museum of the Great War, Musée des Abris, Newfoundland Park, Wellington Quarry.

Day 1:

This extremely large group left the UK full of anticipation for the journey that lay ahead of them. A mid morning start meant that their arrival time at the Poppies d’Albert International School Hotel was perfectly timed for their early evening meal. Keen to acquaint themselves with the facilities and the locality, so the group spent the remainder of their evening at leisure.

View the full day-by-day itinerary

Day 2:

The group’s first visit of the day was to Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest British cemetery on the western front, where the 11,956 graves bring the sheer scale of the sacrifice to reality. From Tyne Cot it was on to Essex Farm Cemetery where the group then split into two, with coach one heading to Poperinge and coach two to Langemarck.

Coach One: On arrival in Poperinge the group made their way on foot to Talbot House – a ‘home from home’ for the soldiers to relax, worship and find peace from their chaotic surroundings. The students were able to reflect on this experience in a very different way to that of the earlier visits that day. On the way back to the coach, the group stopped off at the Death Cells and Execution Post. Found on the ground floor of the town hall are two cells used to detain soldiers who committed crimes, and the subsequent execution post in the adjacent courtyard; a harsh reality of the war. From here the group boarded the coach again and made their way from Poperinge to Langemarck to visit the Langemarck German Cemetery followed by a visit to Sanctuary Wood. Here the group were reunited with coach two for a collective exploration of the Sanctuary Wood Museum (Hill 62). The group were intrigued by the complexity of the trench systems found here.

Coach Two: After arrival and a look around the Langemarck German Cemetery, the group made their way to Poperinge and Talbot House before viewing the Death Cells and execution posts, then finally moving on to Sanctuary Wood to meet back up with the first coach.

Both coaches departed Sanctuary Wood together for Ypres and an afternoon at the In Flanders Fields Museum before making their way on foot to the T’Zweerd restaurant for their evening meal. The group then had the opportunity to be part of the incredibly moving Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate before returning to the hotel for time at leisure.

Day 3:

Day 3 started with a visit to Lochnagar Crater, La Boiselle then on to Thiepval memorial and Interpretative Centre. Here they viewed the memorial to those who were missing in action as well as the large and impressive exhibition which includes a series of short films. It was then on to Delville Wood where the group viewed the memorial to the South African Brigade who lost their lives here.

For the remainder of the day the coaches split into two with coach one heading to Beaumont-Hamel and coach two making their way to Peronne.

Coach One: The group headed to Newfoundland Park, where they were able to compare its trenches with those seen in Ypres. Next they moved onto Beaumont-Hamel for a guided tour of the area before visiting the museum of the Great War in Peronne to take in some of the 12,000 exhibits on display. The next stop for the group was the Musée des Abris where they found a score of interesting dioramas of trench warfare, before heading back to the hotel to meet up with coach two for some free time and their evening meal.

Coach two: Started with the Museum of the Great War then followed this with Newfoundland Park, and the Musée des Abris before returning to the hotel to meet up with coach one for free time and an evening meal.

Day 4:

After breakfast the group checked out of the hotel and loaded up the coach before again splitting up, with coach one heading to Arras and coach two heading to Vimy Ridge.

Coach one: This group’s first visit for the day was to Wellington Quarry in Arras and a guided tour of this original exhibit where graffiti drawings, sculptures and sound form a moving tribute to the men who fought in the Battle of Arras. It was then on to Vimy Ridge to the Memorial and Historical Interpretative Centre with time for lunch before a guided tour of the tunnels.

Coach two: This group started their day with a visit to Vimy Ridge and a guided tour of the tunnels followed by a visit to Wellington Quarry in Arras.

Both coaches then departed for Calais and the ferry back to the UK. The group returned to school with a host of tales to tell, and time to reflect on experiences that would not be forgotten.


Bespoke Quotation

Accommodation

Western Front Accommodation

We have a number of hotels and hostels in and around Ypres and the Somme which are perfectly suited to school groups. Here are just a few of our favourites:

Menin Gate School Hotel

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The School Hotel can accommodate up to 55 students, and groups of over 35 may have the opportunity to enjoy sole occupancy, and use of the hotels facilities.

“The accommodation really suited our needs and it was nice having a hotel for just our pupils. The hotel was also in an excellent location!”

Alexandra High School and Sixth Form, Miss Rebecca Williams

Located on the doorstep of the Menin Gate monument in the old centre of Ypres, the School Hotel is in an excellent location for exploring the sights and the surroundings of the area. Close to the market square and an array of leisure activities including football, swimming and a bowling alley, it’s the perfect base for schools travelling to visit the Battlefields. The hotel also has a large TV and games lounge with free WiFi and computer access.

Menin Gate School Hotel
Menin Gate School Hotel Menin Gate School Hotel Menin Gate School Hotel Menin Gate School Hotel Menin Gate School Hotel Menin Gate School Hotel
  • Students in single or bunk beds
  • Private facilities in each room
  • TV and games lounge
  • Free WiFi in each room
  • Computer access with free internet

Average Customer Ratings

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Rooms:
Overall:

Poppies School Hotel

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Centrally located in the centre of Ypres next to the Market Square and the Cloth Hall, Poppies School Hotel can house up to 75 people, and groups of over 45 can enjoy the entire hotel to themselves with sole occupancy for the duration of their stay. With a large breakfast and evening room, as well as a private courtyard there is plenty of space provided for groups to relax. Leisure activities including football, swimming and a bowling alley are also close by.

Poppies School Hotel
Poppies School Hotel Poppies School Hotel Poppies School Hotel Poppies School Hotel
  • Students in single or bunk beds
  • Private facilities in each room
  • TV room
  • Games room with pool table and drinks machine
  • Free WiFi in each room

Average Customer Ratings

Food:
Rooms:
Overall:

Ypres Salient School Hotel

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The largest of our hotels in the area, the Ypres Salient School hotel can accommodate groups of up to 107 people. Make use of the extra space by relaxing in the large breakfast room or the extensive private garden. Students stay in single or bunk beds, with a separate wing provided with single rooms for drivers and teachers. All rooms have their own private facilities and have free WiFi.

Ypres Salient School Hotel
Ypres Salient School Hotel Ypres Salient School Hotel Ypres Salient School Hotel Ypres Salient School Hotel Ypres Salient School Hotel
  • Students in single or bunk beds
  • Private facilities in each room
  • TV room
  • Games room with 2 pool tables, table football, 2 pinball machines and a drinks machine
  • Free WiFi in each room

Hotel Pax

Get a Quote

Found in the centre of Diksmuide within easy walking distance to a variety of shops, museums and restaurants, the Hotel Pax is ideally located for a battlefields tour. Each room comes equipped with TV and private facilities. The hotel also has a game room, exercise facility and meeting room.

Hotel Pax
Hotel Pax Hotel Pax Hotel Pax
  • Private facilities in each room
  • TV room
  • Games room

Average Customer Ratings

Food:
Rooms:
Overall:


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