Walking the Walls of Ypres

Visit by BMW Club Oxford Section during Ypres trip.

Author Catherine Moxey

The wall walk around Ypres was not at all what I envisaged, although it was none the worse for that.  I had imagined walking around the town along narrow stone walls, with views across the Cloth Hall and the streets and houses of Ypres.  In fact the walk, officially known as the Ramparts Route, is more of a peaceful nature trek, through grassy parklands by a canal, with occasional glimpses of tiled roofs.  Also, the walk doesn’t completely encircle the town, so you don’t end up back where you started from.

Ypres Stone Walls

High stone walls rising above the canal

I started at the Menin Gate, walking up the steps to the tranquil gardens above the gate, and then heading to the right, which is where the main part of the walk lies.  I set off along a wide and leafy pathway, with the tower and roof of St James’ Church to my right, and the glittering waters of the Kasteelgracht (Castle Moat) to my left.   The route mostly takes you back to a time before the First World War, with high stone walls and the remains of medieval ramparts, bastions, towers, and city gates, although there is also a small war cemetery where neat rows of gravestones and colourful flowers overlook the canal.  Information boards along the path give details about the buildings, flora and fauna.  The bases of some of the old towers remain, and you can walk around them, peering in through the arrow-slits.   There are many interesting trees and plants, and near the end of the walk I encountered a little farm with a goat and chickens, perhaps tended by the nearby school.

Ramparts Cemetery

At frequent intervals along the ramparts, steps lead down to street or canal level, allowing you to explore the areas around the wall.  These give a view of just how high the walls are in places, and it is well worth stepping down to admire the Rijselpoort (or Lille Gate), which is a combined land and water gate, and the only gate to have survived in more or less its original form.

Ypres Rijselpoort (Lille Gate)

I would strongly recommend getting a leaflet about the route from the Tourist Office, as this will give you information on the various highlights, and includes a map to help you find your way back when the walls run out.  I didn’t get my copy until after completing the walk.

Ypres Sculpture

An ancient stonework, or a modern sculpture?

Originally posted 2017-07-06 21:38:46.

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Author: bobmack70

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