What do I Need and How do I Plan?
Below we have answered the most common questions for you. We will keep adding to this as we progress.
What is the Western Front Way App and Why Do I Need it?
The Western Front Way app is the only tool for hikers and cyclists who want to explore the entire length of the first world war trench lines, from Bonfol, Switzerland, through France to the Belgian coast at Nieuwpoort. Users can use the app to plan and navigate their routes, and access bespoke content and unique viewpoints along the way. The app is available for purchase on both Google and Apple Stores
-The Western Front Way app is not just a tool for navigation, but also an invitation to explore the history and human stories behind the First World War. We encourage users to view the Front as a connected line, rather than just a series of isolated battles and events. With our informed audio visual content, users can learn about what happened in and around the areas they are hiking or biking, and gain a deeper understanding of the human impact of the war.
Our app provides insights into the unique challenges faced by soldiers and civilians alike, from the enforced silence of the mountain areas, to the differences in medical treatment between the Vosges and Verdun. Users can also learn about the impact of the Franco-Prussian War on the region before WWI, and how this carried on into WWII.
We also explore the role of women, art, and poetry during the war. By encouraging users to rethink the landscape and the impact it had on battle plans, fortresses, and daily life, we offer a unique and engaging way to explore and learn about this important period in history
– DISTANCES: The Western Front Way trails have been divided into stages to allow users to plan their adventures based on their time, ability, and preferences. Whether you want to take on the entire route in one go or break it down into smaller sections, the stages are designed to help you do just that.
Some of the stages may show a distance of up to 40km for hiking. This is often because there are limited accommodation options in those areas, and it may be necessary to cover a longer distance to reach the next available lodging. However, we understand that 40km may not be suitable for all users, and we encourage you to plan your route accordingly.
How do I find out more about amenities, where to stay, what to see etc?
We will continue adding amenities to the Western Front Way app, making it even more user-friendly and convenient for hikers and cyclists. We have tried and tested many of these amenities to ensure that they provide a good provision for our users.
From accommodation options and food and drink recommendations, to bike repair shops and medical facilities, our app will be your one-stop-shop for everything you need along the Western Front Way. We are committed to making your journey as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible, so you can focus on exploring the history and beauty of the region*
In France, there can be long distances between hotels along the trails. You can find alternative accommodation in Gîtes de France, chambres d’hotes, or at well kept municipal campsites
Wild camping / bivouac is not prohibited but is tolerated and you must respect certain regulations – Le camping sauvage . Bivouacking is generally understood to mean a one-night stop, in respect to leaving no trace, and is implicitly authorised between the hours of 7 p.m and 9 a.m and is subject rules in coastal areas, listed natural sites and historic monuments. Making an open fire when wild camping in dry/and or wooded areas in France in summer is strictly forbidden. You must seek the owner’s permission if you camp on private land.
*The WFW LTd, nor Western Front Way, take responsibility or liability for the recommended providers; providers are suggested recommendations. The WFW Ltd, nor Western Front Way, are in contractual or agreement obligations with the providers we recommend and we strongly advise third party users to research their own amenities. The WFW Ltd, or Western Front Way, is not liable for any changes, costs or amendments to the amenities by the providers that are listed on our app or website.
**The WFW Ltd, nor the Western Front Way, take any responsibility, and are not liable, for third party users who choose to wild camp/bivouac. We strongly advise all third party users to be absolutely clear about local rules and regulations on wild camping/bivouac, to research what is and what is not permitted in the different areas, and never place themselves, others and the natural environment in any harm, danger or mismanagement.
How long is the entire route and where do I start?
The Western Front Way covers an impressive 1000 km, or 621 miles, with separate hike and bike trails of similar lengths. To make the journey more manageable, our app splits the route into various stages, allowing users to determine the terrain and distances they’ll be covering each day. .
From the south: access is via Basel Airport and a direct train to Porrentruy (CH). Opposite the station you will find the Hotel de la Gare. We recommend you spend the night here and take the 14mins regional train from Porrentruy to Bonfol, where the trail begins from outside the station directing you to Kilometre Zero.
From the north: the trail begins in the coastal town of Nieuwpoort (BE). Access to Nieuwpoort from (Paris – ) Brussels to Ostend and then a regional tram to Nieuwpoort.
All stages along the route try to incorporate access to a major train station so that convenient returns to and from your adventures can be accessed if you are not doing the WFW in its entirety. There are some areas where there are very little amenities and accommodation and could require users to walk up to 40km per day. The more people begin to use the trails, the more local providers see the need for increased amenities.
How long would it take to hike or bike?
It depends on the fitness and timescale of the users.
Hiking – Based on a walk of 15 miles a day – a standard long distance walk day. 15 miles a day is 41 days. Or 24km a day. The stages along the route are split into approximately 100km per stage. There are some areas where there are very little amenities and accommodation and could require users to walk up to 40km per day if they specifically wanted hotel to hotel. The more people begin to use the trails, the more local providers see the need for increased amenities.
Biking – The stages are set so that it is possible to accomplish the trail in 7 days biking with an average of 125km per day but you may wish to take rest days and explore local places. The Vosges and Alsace region is mountainous.
In the amenities section in FAQ you will find more information on alternative accommodation.
Can it be cycled and can I travel with my bike on trains?
Yes. Our partners, AF3V, have developed the biking trail. The terrain is not suitable for road bikes. You will want to have a bike that can take rugged terrain. There are bike shops along the way but they are infrequent and we recommend you to be self sufficient. The following sites advise of bicycles on public transport.
How much does it cost?
With the Western Front Way app, you’ll have access to all the content, amenities, navigation, themes, and itineraries you need to make the most of your adventure. Our app is available as an annual subscription, with a fee of £19.99 per year for access to either the hike or the bike trails, or a bundle for both. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or cyclist, or just starting out, our app has something to offer everyone, with content and itineraries tailored to suit different destinations, abilities, and timeframes. With our app, you’ll be able to plan your journey with ease, navigate your way along the trails, and enjoy a seamless experience from start to finish.
Why is this called a path of peace?
The lasting legacy of one soldier who wanted peace from the trenches during the war was written about in 1915. The greatest possible legacy of conflict is lasting and stable peace and education. Our pathway offers the chance to reflect on the cost of instability and conflict, the value of peace and the brave men and women who, in their small part, changed the course of history.
Our logo: A cornflower (blue) the remembrance flower of France; a daisy (white/yellow) the remembrance flower of Belgium; the Forget Me Not (purple), the remembrance flower of Germany and the Poppy (red) the remembrance flower of Britain and the Commonwealth.
Who wrote this letter?
It was written by Alexander Douglas Gillespie, a young man from the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. When writing home from the trenches to his headmaster, he first spoke of this path for peace, or via sacra as he referred to it as. He was killed shortly after writing this letter in 1915 in an attack on enemy lines, he was the last officer left standing but his body was never recovered. An image of him can be seen below.
I am an organisation, Mairie or a Tourism Office. How do I get a plaque?
Plaques serve as a visual marker for users as they navigate the route.
All the major centres on the map have already received the plaques, but if you are an organization or Mairie and would like one, we would be happy to help. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can organize a plaque delivery for you.
We believe that these plaques help to create a sense of community along the Western Front Way by highlighting the importance of the route to the surrounding areas. We encourage all users to keep an eye out for these markers and to show their support for the local communities.
How to find the plaques?
It is important to note that the Western Front Way trails are not yet fully marked, which is why the app is essential for navigation. While Flanders does have walking routes signposted, these are not suitable for bikes due to farmers fields and pathways.
You will see our logo or plaques in various communes and centres. These will be placed where they have been requested, such as tourist offices, Mairies (town halls), and museums. Take a selfie by the plaques and tag the town hall, museum or hotel. They are big supporters and are such a big part of our story. #WalkTheFront
Are there maps to help me not made by you?
Yes, Belgium use NGI maps, France use IGN. The IGN Grande Guerre 1914-1918 is particularly good.
Should I tell you about my journey?
Please do share your stories through our social media channels. We are a community who rely on each other so the more you can share, the better the experience for others.
When will it be finished?
The work of the WFW will continue to develop in order to provide consistent increase to user and provider experiences. We will continue to update and refresh the app with annual stories, links to events, ease of travel, itineraries and with all our partners to highlight what this part of the world means to modern day. The process of marking the trails has begun and we will continue to work with our partners on the ground to finalise this.
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If you cannot find the answers you’re looking for here then please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help
HIKE IT OR BIKE IT
ONE APP = ONE TOOL
- Annual Subscriptions
- Designated, linked trails
- Bespoke content as you go
- In-app accommodation lists
- Further resources to events, local information & culture
- 1000km split into stages to suit time, destination and ability
- Navigate & track progress along the entire Western Front