Nick Lipscombe ~ Battlefield Tours 2024-2025
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Spring 2025 (9 days)
After achieving the decisive victory over the French at Salamanca in July 1812, Wellington liberated Madrid but then over-extended his army at Burgos and was forced into a harrowing retreat. The following year, determined not to make the same mistake, he drove back three French armies and defeated them in the epic encounter at Vitoria. The French withdrew and fought with their backs to the Pyrenees trying to prevent the unthinkable – the invasion of France. Wellington captured San Sebastian and fought a series of battles in the Pyrenees before judging the time right to commence the invasion. After two more battles at the end of 1813, at the Nivelle and the Nive, Soult was pushed eastwards towards Toulouse where the last encounter of the war was fought in April 1814. This tour follows the Great North Road from Madrid towards the great French border fortress of Bayonne and then eastwards to Toulouse. En route we cross some magnificent terrain and great rivers, once formidable barriers. From the top of the dominating mountains of the western Pyrenees we will gain stunning views over much of the campaign area. We will travel along the often turbulent coast of the Bay of Biscay and visit the harbour havens so crucial to the resupply of Wellington’s army.
12-19 September 2024
The tour begins with a drive down the Tagus Valley to Toledo before taking in the battle at Talavera; then to the crossing at Almaraz before heading towards the Portuguese border. Here we take in the bloodiest battle of the Peninsular War at Albuera and the equally brutal siege at Badajoz. Then to the fortified town of Elvas, Portugal, a UNESCO world heritage site steeped in history, before heading north again via the atmospheric Roman bridge at Alcántara and onto the 14th Century Parador at Ciudad Rodrigo. Back across to Portugal and the perfectly preserved fortified town of Almeida where we examine the action across the River Coa. It was here that 'Black' Bob Craufurd so nearly lost the elite Light Division. The major battle on the border at Fuentes de Oñoro is visited in detail, along with a trip to Wellington’s headquarters at Freineda. Finally, we travel to Salamanca, a beautiful and culturally rich city with the best preserved Peninsular War battlefield. You will stay at great hotels and have every opportunity to witness and enjoy Spanish hospitality and culture in these varied regions of central and western Spain.
13-20 June 2024
The French invaded Portugal three times between 1807 and 1811. Each time the nation’s saviour was Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. The first invasion in 1807 by General Junot, ended following Wellesley’s victory at Vimeiro in August 1808. The second invasion by Marshal Soult in 1809 ended abruptly following Wellesley’s extraordinarily audacious operation to recapture the city of Porto in broad daylight, forcing Soult’s force into a harrowing retreat over the mountains in north Portugal. In 1810 the third invasion by Marshal Masséna came to an equally dramatic end in front of the Lines of Torres Vedras necessitating, the following year, Marshal Ney to conduct a series of rearguard actions for the French to escape only to be defeated on the Portuguese-Spanish border at Fuentes de Oñoro in 1811.
Porto, the location of Wellington's extraordinary operation to recapture the city from Marshal Soult in 1809
Nick with a wonderful group in 2017 at the Roman bridge at Alcántara