This unique route takes us along the beautiful coastline of Normandy, passing the sites and scenery of the World War II D-Day Landings on Normandy Beaches. This coastal region played a vital part of Operation Overlord, a codename for the WW2 Allied invasion of Normandy, to liberate Europe from years of German military occupation.
Our journey begins in Grandcamp-Maisy, at the foot of the Cherbourg Peninsula, where we head east along the coast. We take in sites of significant military action including Pointe du Hoc, the Mulberry Harbour of Arromanches, and Pegasus Bridge. There are beautiful views across the now-tranquil coastline, but as we walk over varied terrain of dunes, grass and tarmac, it is all-too-easy to imagine events of the past. We pay our respects to the Allies at the Normandy American Cemetery and Juno Beach Memorial. Our route finishes north of Caen at Ranville War Cemetery where we will lay a wreath, a poignant end to an unforgettable journey.
We start the day driving off the ferry to our trek starting point at the Maisy Battery, which will put into context the challenge that awaits us, as we will be walking this distance back to Caen over the next four days. On the way to our start point, we visit La Cambe German War Cemetery where 21,222 German soldiers are buried, not all of whom had chosen either the cause or the fight. The Maisy Battery was one of the largest German defensive positions in the American landing area on D-Day. From here, we make another stop at Pointe Du Hoc, the site where U.S. Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot coastal cliffs and seized the German artillery pieces, to prevent them from firing at the American landing troops on to the beaches of Omaha and Utah. As we begin our trek, we head slightly inland, heading eastwards to Omaha Beach. Our finish point today will be the Normandy American Cemetery, where we then board the coaches and return to Caen to check in to our hotel for the next three nights. Night hotel.
We begin the day again with a transfer, this time made shorter by our efforts the day before, returning to the Normandy American Cemetery. The early start we make today will be worthwhile, as we begin with a ceremony to raise the flag at the cemetery and lay a wreath, before continuing our trek east along the Normandy Beaches. Our route today takes us through Port-en-Bessin, which was the meeting point between the American Troops moving in from Omaha beach and the British coming west from Gold Beach. After the town was taken under allied control, it was used to bring vital fuel ashore via submerged pipes from ships moored up 1km offshore. Today’s route finishes at Arromanches, the site of a Mulberry Harbour erected by the British to facilitate rapid offloading of cargo. We once again board our awaiting coaches and return to Caen. Night hotel.
Our transfer this morning is very short, which we’ll no doubt be feeling in our heavy legs from the previous day’s trekking. Starting our final day of trekking from Sword Beach, we head inland to the Hillman Fortress, a German bunker named Hill 61 by the British and taken by the Suffolk Regiment. The delay in taking the bunker complex has been cited as a reason for the Allies not completing their major D-Day objective of taking Caen. During our trek, we cross Pegasus Bridge made famous by the 1962 film The Longest Day. The Bridge was captured in the early hours of 6th June by troops of the 6th Airborne Division, who landed nearby by parachute and glider. Our route continues to Ranville, which was the first village to be liberated in France after Pegasus Bridge was captured. Many of 6th Airborne Division’s casualties are buried in Ranville War Cemetery and the adjoining churchyard. The cemetery contains 2,236 Commonwealth burials. The final section takes us to Merville Battery which makes for a poignant end to our challenging trek.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.