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on 25 September 2014
I bought this book whilst preparing for a 4-day walking holiday in June 2014. I traveled by train to Ypres (staying in the Albion Hotel), and walked from the city out to a different part of the Ypres Salient each day - I didn't use a car or bicycle at all.

I already had a copy of Paul Reed's book "Walking the Salient", which is full of excellent walks (but with dire maps), and I found that many of the walks in Battle Lines Ypres, rather than repeating Reed's walks, nicely complimented them, offering different routes which could be added on. In several cases they were a distinct improvement on Reed's routes: for instance, at Hooge, Cooksey and Murland take you down a path southwards alongside (the east side of) Hooge Crater Cemetery, and across the fields towards Sanctuary Wood, taking you from the German lines, across No-mans-land to the British lines - a really superb route, and one which is not apparent as a walkable path unless you are told. Likewise, I used Reed's excellent walk north to Boesinghe, and then switched to Cooksey and Murland's Pilkem Ridge walk which explores the British assault of 31/7/17. In other words, this book nicely complements Reed's book and I found it very useful indeed.

Cooksey and Murland have the same kind of schematic maps as Reed, but they are much easier to follow than Reed's infuriating maps - nevertheless, anyone undertaking such a walking holiday of the Salient needs to equip themselves with the excellent Belgian 1-20,000 maps as well (no 28, 1-2 is Ieper, 28, 3-4 is Zonnebeke and Passchendaele) which are readily available to purchase on the internet.

The book is well-bound, and on good-quality paper - mine is still in excellent condition after some rough treatment. It is not the kind of book that you would want to sit down and read, and (unlike the Battleground Europe series of books) assumes that you have done plenty of research on the area that you are exploring, although it has plenty of useful information to help you appreciate the cemeteries which you encounter.

I purchased Battle Lines Ypres from Amazon when they were selling it at an offer price of £8.96 (including postage etc), but even if I had paid the official price of £12.99 I think that it would have been money well spent.
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VINE VOICEon 11 March 2013
This is the first of what publisher Pen & Sword bills as a series known as "Battle Lines: the Western Front by car, by bike and on foot". As the title suggests, this one covers the battle area of Flanders all the way from Nieuwpoort on the coast down to Ploegsteert on the French border, and does so by describing 25 tours, varying from 2 to 30 miles in length.

The would-be battlefield tourist is not short of choice when it comes to the Ypres area. The late Rose Coombs' "Before Endeavours Fade"; the Holt's excellent guides to the Western Front North and to Ypres itself; many titles in the Battleground Europe series (also a Pen & Sword product) and more. Does the world need another? Is there a new niche for "Battle Lines"?

Cooksey and Murland - both well known to P&S buyers, having each had several titles published - set out to provide the independent battlefield tourist with some practical advice and good tours that take in the main sights. Each tour is a circuit and the tourist, armed with the author's descriptions of the distances and a guide to how difficult the terrain is, can make their own judgements as to whether to do it on foot or on wheels. The tours are described in the narrative and by clear sketch maps, although for anyone unfamiliar with the area they would also be well advised to have a good road map with them.

The authors are to be congratulated for opening with three routes that cover the battlefields of the Yser, for the most part in the sector of the Belgian army through the war. This is an area not often visited by British and Commonwealth tourists, it seems, and well worth a day or two. From there on south the area is obviously a well known one, possibly the region of the western Front that receives the greatest volume of such visitors: the places visited will be known to many. Langemarck, Passchendaele, Hooge, Messines .... they are all covered and certainly the new battlefield visitor (and indeed some more experienced hands) will gain a good feel for the area.

The tours take in the main cemeteries, memorials, museums and other sites of interest. Given that each tour is described in only perhaps 5 or 6 pages of narrative (and in a small format book) it is perhaps not surprising that the historical content, describing what went on and why, is fairly shallow. A good deal of text is devoted to describing notable figures in the cemeteries, particularly VC winners and some of those "shot at dawn". As such I am not sure it would make such good reading for the armchair tourist as the "Battleground Europe" books often do; it is more one to take with you or dip into when planning a trip.

The book is very nicely produced in glossy paper with many colour photographs: not at all bad for a cover price of £12.99 (although I see the much more extensive Coombs' work is about the same now and more narrowly focused "Battleground Europe" books can usually be had for about half as much). To me, it is disappointing to see that it is printed in India - but perhaps that is the only way to keep production costs at an affordable level for this physical quality of book.

So how does "Battle Lines" stack up as a concept? It is not as in-depth or readable as a "Battleground Europe" study of an area; it is not as broad or comprehensive as Coombs or Holt's. But it does provide a good and reliable set of suggested tours for a region and imparts the highlights well. It will be interesting to see how the series develops.
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on 29 September 2014
Some really good tours in here, we have much enjoyed using this book. There are a shortage of distances and directions in some of the walks and not all the grave references are accurate , but despite these faults a every useful guide.
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on 30 December 2013
I bought this as I was going to Ypres for the armistice weekend, the book was useful on some of the detail, however needed to buy a map as well to navigate our way around the cemetery's, gives a good insight into a lot of points, however I was expecting more
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on 30 March 2015
Very well written book - visited Ypres recenrtly and did some of the walks - easy to follow guide and very well documented
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on 26 August 2014
Good value for money
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on 1 September 2015
Useful informatiom
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on 1 April 2014
A excellent well researched book going to areas normally missed out by the battlefield visitors will definitely pack and take with me on my next visit
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on 4 June 2016
Very good
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on 1 June 2013
this is an excellent book with walking-cycling and driving routes some of which are new to me,it is very simmilar to walking the salient which is also an excellent book
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