Riding The Western Front 2018: Day 10 and 11

Riding The Western Front: Day 10 – Wednesday 4th July

Today was one of the longer runs for the day. It was approximately 170 miles to my next hotel at Saint Quentin with a couple of diversionary stops along the way. There had been rain overnight. But already the roads were drying up from the morning sun. Once I loaded up the scooter I headed off.

Saint-Hilaire-Le-Grand Russian Cemetery

After leaving town I opened up and the running problem of the day before returned. I pulled over and took the side panel off and my panic was subdued by the sight of a kinked fuel pipe. In my haste of putting the carburettor back together I bolted the fuel banjo down at the wrong angle, kinking the fuel line. With the side panel back on I was soon heading onwards.

First stop was a Russian cemetery at Saint Hilaire-Le-Grande. Before reaching the cemetery there was a long lay-by lined with half a dozen ladies touting for business. I didn’t realise why the women were there until later as I found it strange for 9 O’clock in the morning with hardly any traffic on the roads. I wasn’t going to stop and ask!

I reached the Russian Cemetery and took time to look around and take some photographs. The cemetery holds the graves of 4,000 Russian soldiers killed on the battle of Champagne. This place was beautiful.

A poppy field

Carrying on I I then took a wrong turn at Reims and it seemed to take ages to get back on the right road. I carried on until I reached my next stop at Soupir. Here there is an Italian cemetery that has the graves of 593 Italians who fell fighting along the Chemin des Dames.

Riding on I made Saint Quentin in the afternoon. As I rode into town I was getting very itchy. Dust? It was hot and dusty, it was odd. I filled up just before I reached my hotel. So around the corner I pulled into my hotel, that seemed to be on the edge of an industrial estate. It wasn’t the most pleasant of locations. I checked in and got showered and headed off on foot to the town. Again, I started itching. This time it was my arms and head. Then walking towards me were three people itching themselves and looking at their arms. As I passed them I looked at my arms, at first glance there was nothing, but a closer look revealed tiny bugs, very tiny, but there was loads of them. There was nothing I could do about it. I walked on into Saint Quentin. By the time I got into the centre I was tired itchy and very hot. It made me uncomfortable enough that I soon gave up trying to find places and head back to my hotel, stopping along the way for food.

Once I got into my room I showered again to get rid of the itchy bugs. I didn’t do much more apart from writing in my diary and watch French TV. I was tired and tomorrow I was heading for Cambrai very early to meet my brother and spend four days with him. We were heading out for my brother to collate information on his research of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who my Grandfather fought with during World War One.   

Sleepiing Dog

I was asleep early.

Total miles covered: 1,438

Thought for the day: Use bug repellent


Riding The Western Front: Day 11 – Thursday 5th July

I woke early after a good night sleep. Got my coffee to go and left for Cambrai. A beautiful misty morning where the sun was starting to burn the mist away leaving superb views across the rolling French fields. I was hammering it to Combrai. The early morning cold leaned the motor a bit, but I kept an eye on the  EGT & CHT. Annoyance of the day was when I tried to adjust the GoPro while riding and I broke the bracket, but unlike last year, I had a spare.

Fifty minutes later I was in Cambrai and arriving into the car park and hotel I had been in the previous two years. It was a good feeling to be here and really good to see my brother. I had all but done the hard part of the run in France and Belgium. Now the Lambretta would be rested for four days while I travelled around the battlefields with my brother. The Lambretta deserved the break. Apart from the electrical issues with the gauges and the blocked carburettor, it had handled the run well.  

Total miles covered: 1,462

So with my Lambretta relieved of the luggage, parked up and rested, I jumped into the car and we headed off to Ypres in Belgium. All of these cemeteries we visited today are part of my Brothers research, although the first one included a stop I had planned to make at the massive Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery which contains over 10,000 casualties. I wanted to visit the grave of Nellie Spindler. She was killed by a German shell during the 3rd Battle of Ypres. 

Today we visited the following Cemeteries in Belgium:

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery

Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery

Dozingham Military Cemetery

Brandhoek Military Cemetery

Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery

Brandhoek New Military Cemetery

Dickebusch New Military Cemetery

Bedford House Military Cemetery

Ypres Reservoir Military Cemetery

Duhallow ADS Cemetery

New Irish Farm Military Cemetery

Buffs Road Cemetery

Dochy Farm New British Cemetery

Poelcapelle British Cemetery

Tyne Cot Military Cemetery

Perth China Wall Military Cemetery

Maple Copse Military Cemetery

Ypres Town Cemetery

We then went to the Spar in Ypres on the N8 going towards Hellfire Corner. This is a recommended shop when looking for ale, with a huge beer selection. With our drink and dinner sorted, we headed back to Cambrai.

It was a long day and tiring. We got back to Cambrai and ate on the bank of The Canal Du Saint Quentin, we stop here every year. It’s quiet and peaceful, we see the sun set and usually chat some more about the War! Then we headed back to the hotel.

Me and my brother had a couple more beers and spoke for a while before retiring for the night.

Thought for the day: I didn’t have time for a thought!

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