Wednesday, 16 December 2009


1812 was a very mixed year for Wellington, as indeed it was also for Napoleon. And for both it ended in a terrible retreat. Wellington started the year with the capture of Cuidad Rodrigo, quickly followed by Badajoz. Then his stunning victory at Salamanca, which led to his liberation of Madrid. Then came the siege of Burgos.

Due to variety of circumstances, such as a strong fortress, a determined garrison, a lack of suitable siege materials and a strong French army of relief Wellington would end the year back at Cuidad Rodrigo on the border of Spain and Portugal.

Burgos was the first of our Walking Napoleonic Battlefields for our third visit to Spain. Unlike most of our battlefields the city of Burgos is well established on the tourist trail. The ruined castle was our main interest, but the city also has a beautiful cathedral containing the bones of El Cid.

You can read about our visit here:

Friday, 11 December 2009

Northern Spain and the Pyrenees

Our fourth holiday Walking Napoleonic Battlefields was for 10 days in June 1995.

We would cover 1200 miles and visit 13 battlefields including Burgos, Vittoria, Roncevalles, Maya, Vera, Bidaossa, San Marcial, The Rhune, The Nivelles and The Nive.

I have started a new blog to cover this holiday and you can read the first entry which covers the planning for the holiday here

Saturday, 5 December 2009


was the last stop on our second visit to Portugal and Spain to walk Wellington's battlefields. It started at Lisbon, the first city of Portugal, and finished at Oporto, the second city.

Oporto is a lovely city, but we did not see it at its best. Due to a map reading error on my part we entered the city on the wrong road, and were soon completely lost. I had a city map and the booking slip with the name of the hotel, but I could not find any of the suburb roads we were driving on.

Neither of us spoke any Portuguese, so we had a real problem. In desperation we just stopped at the next road junction, showed the booking slip to a pedestrian and following their hand signals. After about an hour of this we were no closer to finding the hotel, indeed we had passed one square twice.

We parked the car and set off on foot. We soon found the hotel, and that it was in the middle of a pedestrian only zone, which we had been driving around for the past half hour or so.

The rest of the visit was spent on foot. But the hotel was very central, and we could easily find the main locations we were looking for. And there is no better way to explore a city than on foot.

You can read about the visit and see the photographs at: