Date: 27-28th September 2022
Travelled: 60 kms from Bailleul to Watten
Visited: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery and Watten
Stayed: Watten Aire, free, N50.83130, E02.20840
Budget: 126 days @ €98 per day
It rained heavily on and off all night in Bailleul. Not the perfect night’s sleep as the noise on the roof of the Hymer roused us more than once, so we have a bit of a lay in this morning. After coffee and some fruit Pam goes on her walk whilst I plan our route today.
Surprisingly the skies clears and we get some sun as we say goodbye to Bailleul via the Lidl supermarket for a few bits to hold us over till we are back in England.
Lijssenthock is across the border near Poperinghe in Belgium. It’s a cross country run on D roads so we take our time.
So why are we visiting Lijssenthock Military Cemetery, well firstly it’s not on our way. Whilst travelling to Tasmania earlier in the year, we stopped overnight in a free campsite in Longwood, Victoria. Longwood is little more than a village these days but as we always do, we go for an afternoon walk taking a look around.
We find a memorial to Major F.H. Tubb VC pictured below. After a delicious schnitty with a wicked pepper sauce at the Longwood Pub that night, I do a bit of Googling. I found Tubb’s story and citation of valour and dedication quite remarkable and his death perhaps a little bad luck. Noting that Lijssenbrock isn’t that far from Bailleul, I made a note in my diary should we return this way.
With the recent centenary of The Great War, Lijssenbrock has had a visitors centre built next door which makes a visit interactive for want of a better term. We search for Tubb’s records and burial details, pictured below.
With 10,784 burials Lissenbrock is the 2nd largest CWGC in Belgium.
So our visit complete we make a note in the the visitor’s book and return to the Hymer and make our way back into France.
Soon enough we cross the Canal L’Aa and find ourselves a spot at the aire. Watten has been our usual stop before the chunnel crossing for several years now, it has a comfortable relaxed feel. Most of the campers here are English so there’s always someone to chat with.
We are here for two minutes when there’s a knock on the door and we find Glen and Pauline who we met a few days ago are already here, so perhaps a drink and chat later.
Pam’s keen for a leg stretch and I’m keen for a drink so we walk back over the canal and into the village, do a lap to see what’s open and what’s not. We get a loaf of bread from the boulangerie and find a cafe for a tipple on our way back.
Back at the aire we meet up with our neighbours after dinner for some more chitchat before calling it a night.
Next morning the aire slowly empties as motorhomes head off for wherever, mostly the chunnel it seems. We plan a relaxing day of not doing much other than exploring Watten.
Having walked the village once again we wander up to the Église. We can hear singing and see a funeral is taking place (the hearse is a dead giveaway) so we cannot have a look inside.
It’s a 20 minute walk up the hill to a stone windmill, which is Watten’s village symbol. It has quite a history the site being a small moated fortress at one time.
Another 200m, on the crest of the hill, stands the ruins of a stone abbey, which is gated, we are disappointed to find you can only visit as part of a group. As we are a group of two, I don’t see it happening this trip. The abbey tower pictured below was once part of a religious community which amazingly dates back to the 3rd century.
We make our way back to the Hymer and another day rolls past our last full day in France. We have a train from Calais in the morning at 0950. Then driving on the left, narrow roads, roundabouts and greater London traffic. We’ve managed 11 countries in the last 18 weeks, England, Holland, Denmark, The Faroe Islands, Iceland, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Luxembourg and finally France. So it’s been an adventure.
We have family, friends, cleaning the Hymer and preparing it for storage over the next five days. So this will be our last blog until we are safely at home unless something worth noting happens. Thanks for following our adventures, once where home I’ll wrap up the trip.
Michael + Pam