This tour will follow Wellington and the Allied army’s route from the crossing of the Spanish border, through Salamanca, onto Vitoria and over the French border to Toulouse.
Beginning our tour in Madrid, we visit sites of historical interest around the city on day one before making our way north-west to the area where bitter fighting had raged throughout the early part of the Peninsular Campaign, with a few stops in local villages of importance en-route.
Our second day comprises a full and in-depth study of one of the most important battles of the entire Peninsular Campaign – Salamanca. Throughout the day we will explore the battlefield in detail including ascending the famous ‘Arapiles’, all of the major battlefield sites and visiting an excellent local museum. Our afternoon ends in the beautiful city of Salamanca itself where further important fighting took place and where Wellington marched victorious into the city at the end of that legendary fight.
Our third day sees us move north with Wellington to Burgos to explore the costly and unsuccessful siege of that city. A detailed exploration of the relevant positions and a look at the remaining signs of what once passed here make a fascinating day of touring. In the afternoon we continue north-westwards to our accommodation in the vicinity of Vitoria.
Unsurprisingly day four is also a full day of study of yet another iconic fight – The Battle of Vitoria. Fought in June 1813, Vitoria was a resounding (but certainly not bloodless) victory for Wellington’s allied forces which set the French to flight, abandoning huge numbers of guns and equipment, allowing some fortunate redcoats to take their share of the ‘Loot of a Kingdom’.
Today we continue north towards the Pyrenees, first to the coast to Spain and the Basque Country where we study the two sieges of the city of Sen Sebastian and the subsequent sacking of the town. Our afternoon visit is to the much-overlooked battlefield of Sourauren, where French forces under Marshal Soult launched a determined assault on allied positions in the hopes of relieved the besieged garrison of Pamplona.
Our penultimate day is spent again on the west coast of the Franco-Spanish frontier visiting three key battlefields of the late 1813 campaign, namely The Bidassoa, Nivelle and Nive. Each offer a fascinating glimpse into the last-ditch fighting undertaken here by hard pressed French forces and Wellington’s by now highly experienced formations. Following our visits we head eastwards into France and on to our final destination – Toulouse.
Our last day on tour sees us traversing the modern city of Toulouse in search of the key locations fought over here in April 1814. Famously fought after the cessation of hostilities (though not known to the participants at the time), it was a very bloody fight, with Marshal Soult’s surrounded forces inflicting heavy casualties on Wellington’s troops. Our tour ends here in the stunning ‘La Ville Rose’, with its excellent rail and air links across Europe.