Actually, the end point was camping cinq chemins verts, but we never figured out the five green shirt reference. It was a long haul for one day, but we have retained our (t)rusty bikes as a way to beat the heat. With a heat wave on offer for the rest of the week, walking 30km per day in the mid-30s is not very appealing. It is only marginally better on a bike. Given that my steed is a five speed kids bike, and Max’s – while looking the part with 18 gears, full suspension and disc brakes – is is seemingly built of cast iron with steel components, many of which have rusted up. Despite freeing up the cables, he still only has the same number of gears and brakes as I do. Needless to say, any gradient greater than 0 degrees is walking/pushing territory! Luckily the land was fairly flat until we hit the Alps of Flanders – the hills to the south of Ypres that were hotly contested during WW1.
And just before we made it to the campsite, we made our first visit to a war cemetery on the outskirts of Godewaersvelde. This one contained 958 graves, primarily those who died of their wounds in the field hospitals based in the town. As we both watched Peter Jackson’s documentary “They Shall not grow old” on the flight over, and I have just read “All quiet on the western front”, it was a very sobering moment. Max is now reading the book. For those not familiar with the documentary, it is archival footage that has been restored, with voice-overs from war veterans.
DMM: Max’s introduction to French ‘starting block’ toilets.
Daily km: 52