The Western Front Way Champagne
The Western Front Way
A message from the Western Front Way
The Western Front Way is a small UK-based charity (Registered charity number: 1174793) The charity has a global ambition – to create a continuous long-distance walking path from the Swiss border in the South to the channel coast in the North to serve as a route for remembrance, ‘a via sacra’ and to provide a permanent lasting memorial to the loss of life in the First World War and all conflicts since.
It is not a battlefield tour, but a walking route – a path for peace and reflection. Inspired by a young soldier killed at the battle of Loos, Lt Douglas Gillespie who wanted to build a “long avenue between the lines from the Vosges to the sea....I would make a fine broad road in the 'No Mans Land' between the lines, with paths for pilgrims on foot and plant trees for shade” he envisioned this as a “a via sacra” and hoped it would become “the most beautiful road in all the world”. Gilliespie wrote of his vision in a letter home in 1915 which was rediscovered by the historian Sir Anthony Seldon while researching for his book on Public Schools and the Great War. Inspired by the idea Anthony brought together members of the Gillespie family and others who were enthused by the idea and together they have set up a charity to make the vision a reality. Founding Trustees Amanda Carpenter and Rory Forsyth now run the operational side of the charity on a pro bono basis, and others give their time and expertise in filming, writing, mapping and development.
Quite simply this idea has captured the imagination of hundreds of British, French and Belgians and together they are working to map, mark and establish a 725km tree lined, waymarked walking route running from Pfetterhouse to Nieuport. This modern ‘via sacra’ will take walkers past battle lines, past cemeteries, through gardens for peace and through some of the most beautiful landscapes of France and Belgium. Imagine walking up over a hill through a late summer afternoon to see just for yourself how close the battle lines were, then turning a corner to come across a tiny half hidden cemetery surrounded by maize with larks singing all around: an unexpected moment of stillness and peace.
If you are interested in joining a guided walk please contact the Amanda Carpenter or Rory Forsyth at the Western Front Way charity. Joining a walk offers you a chance to walk accompanied days along the route; along already identified paths, which will become part of the permanent Western Front Way in years to come.