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.

The Frontline Walk is a 100km hike across the Western Front of World War I.

Registration for the 2018 event is now closed. Registration for the 2019 event will open soon. Please check back for updates or sign up to our mailing list to receive the latest news.

To sponsor someone taking part in this years’ event, please click here.


Still want to be involved in the last of the centenary years?

Take part in our Virtual Frontline Walk and commemorate the centenary of the First World War at your own pace.

Find out more about The Virtual Frontline Walk


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

– Paul Critchley, 2016 participant

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 2018 Frontline Walk covers two routes – the Western Front, which covers many of the most iconic battlefields and cemeteries on the Western Front and the Hundred Days Offensive which follows the last 100 days of World War One – a truly fitting commemoration for the end of the Centenary.


The Hundred Days Offensive

Hundred Days Offensive Day One

Hundred Days Offensive Day Two

Hundred Days Offensive Day Three


The Western Front

Walking day 1

Frontline Walk - Day 1 Route

Walking day 2

Frontline Walk - Day 2 Route

Walking day 3

Frontline Walk - Day 3 Route


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

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 2018 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.

Where do we return to?

We will return to Wellington Barracks on the fifth day.

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 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.

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.

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.