The Long, Long Trail's "Ypres highlights in a day"

If you are pressed for time and only have one full day, you can still take in some of the highlights of the Ypres area. This is our suggestion; it assumes that you have a car. You could probably do it by bike, but it is very unlikely that you could cover this ground by public transport in a single day. Inevitably, as this is a "highlights" tour, these are the more visited and popular spots. On the way, you will pass many other memorials, cemeteries and battlefield views.

One Day Tour


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Point 1: Essex Farm site, near Brielen

Starting from Ieper town centre, take the main N369 north, direction Diksmuide.
Essex Farm site is on your right, just before the road is crossed by a road bridge. Find here Essex Farm Cemetery, a block of British concrete bunkers, a memorial to John McCrae (Canadian Doctor, author of poem "In Flanders Fields"), obelisk memorial to 49th (West Riding) Division and fine view of Ypres canal. Essex Farm

Langemark

From Essex Farm follow N369 north, direction Diksmuide. Turn right at signposts for Pilkem and Langemark. Reach Langemark village, follow small black/white signs for Soldatenfriedhof. The cemetery is on your left. There is a car park.
The Langemark military cemetery is one of few German cemeteries in the area. Note the mass grave, statuary and very different feel to British cemeteries. Memorial to 1914 student soldiers in entrance vestibule. German concrete blockhouses are in the grounds. A short walk in same direction and turn left along Broenbeek takes you to a memorial to the 34th Division. Langemark

Vancouver Corner, north of Sint-Juliaan

Return to Langemark village, follow signs for Zonnebeke. As you cross the Ieper > Poelkapelle / Westrozebeek road, you will see the Canadian memorial on the left of the crossroads. There is a car park.
The striking brooding soldier memorial recalls the fighting by Canadian troops against the first German gas attack in this area in April 1915 as well as in the Passchendaele offensive of 1917. Canadian Memorial

Tyne Cot, south west of Passendale

Carry on in same direction to Zonnebeke. In the village, turn left taking signs for Passendale (Passchendaele). Tyne Cot is signposted on your left from this road. There is a car park.
Tyne Cot is the largest British military cemetery in the world. Centred on a captured German pillbox, around which are original burials, the cemetery was expanded after the war by bringing in thousands of dead. At the back of the cemetery is the Memorial to the Missing, commemorating those who were killed in the area from August 1917 and who have no known grave. Tyne Cot

Hooge

The easiest route to our next stop is not the shortest. Return to the main Passendale road and turn right. Stay on this road through Beselare (the witches village) and on reaching the N8, turn right for Ieper. Pass through Geluveld, scene of much fighting in 1914, pass by Clapham Junction (memorials), pass the Bellewaarde Theme Park on your right. Slow down, pass Hooge Chateau Tea Rooms on your right and 200m later park on your right near what appears to be an old chapel. It is an old chapel, actually. Beware very busy road.
The chapel at Hooge is today a splendid First World War museum and is well worth a visit. It also has a good cafe. Stroll back to the Tea Rooms, on the site of Hooge chateau and stables where there was such fighting in 1915. There are vestiges of trenches and craters in the grounds. On the opposite side of the road is Hooge Crater Cemetery, with fine views toward Ieper. Hooge

Hill 60

Carry on the N8 toward Ieper but turn left at the first roundabout toward Zillebeke. it is hard to believe but this roundabout is on the site of Hell Fire Corner, a notoriously dangerous spot. Follow signs for Zillebeke, follow through the village (turning left at the T-junction near the church). You'll see signs for Hill 60, which is a right turn after leaving Zillebeke. There is a car park on your left as you reach the hill.
Hill 60 was the scene of much fighting in 1915, much of it hand to hand. The Hill itself was devastated by shell fire and mine explosions. It is today a preserved grave and memorial site. There are also memorials to the Australian Tunneling Engineers and the 14th (Light) Division. Cross the railway bridge on foot and take the first pathway on left to Caterpillar Crater Caterpillar Crater near Hill 60

Ieper (Ypres): Lille Gate

Our last two stops on this tour are also included in the Long, long Trail's "One Day in Ypres" foot-based tour of the town. At Hill 60, cross the railway bridge and turn right at the T-Junction. Pass railway Dugouts (Transport Farm) on your left and turn right when you meet the main Ieper-Mesen road. As you approach Ieper you will see the ancient Lille Gate ahead of you. Find a place to park (you may need to pay).
Lille Gate was one of several such gates in the old ramparts of Ypres. During the First World War its thick walls gave some protection from shellfire and it was on occasion used as a headquarters. see signs under the Gate. The beautiful Ramparts Cemetery is next to it, with views of the moat. Lille Gate

Ieper (Ypres): Menin Gate

It is easily possible to walk from Lille Gate to the Menin Gate. Follow he pathway along the grassed ramparts, with the moat on your right. Alternatively if you need to drive, you could go into the town centre and then walk to the Gate after parking. Or take the longest but by far easiest route: at Lille Gate join the Ieper ring road taking you back round toward Hell Fire Corner (first follow signposts Mesen, then Ieper centrum). By following centrum signs you will actually drive through the Gate. Find a place to park (you may not need to pay if you stay "outside" the Gate).
The Menin Gate was also one of several gates in the old ramparts of Ypres, although there was little sign of it by 1914. During the First World War the area was devastated by shellfire. Out of the ruins came the impressive Memorial to the Missing. Inaugurated in 1927, the 54000 men listed here are remembered each night by the 8pm blowing of the Last Post. Menin Gate

... and that concludes our "Ypres in 1 day" highlights tour of the area. I hope you enjoy it and often return, as I do, to this fascinating, moving and memorable part of British history.