1. Gallipoli (Turkey) to Petrich (Bulgaria)
In total, this stretch of the route is about 440 miles long. Most of it is on road with only 14 miles of the route being off road in the vicinity of the battlefields.
The campaign was fought in the lower reaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula at Cape Helles, ANZAC Cove & Suvla Bay.
Despite the fact that it was an unmitigated disaster to the Allies, it has stuck in the national conscience of all of the countries involved.
The off road section of this area will be sandy, with prickly bushes & more sand.
2. Petrich (Bulgaria) to Bitola (Republic of Macedonia)
This section of the route is 196 miles in total, with 83 miles being on road & 113 miles off road.
This area of the war was called the Macedonian Front & despite it being a largely forgotten area of the conflict, I regard it as being one of the most important. This is because all of the main countries who were involved in the war had soldiers at the Macedonian Front, with regiments from different countries fighting alongside each other, especially on the Entente (Allied) side.
In the Vardar Offensive of 1918, this was particularly true. The Italians were in the West & the British in the East, in between them were the French, Serbs, Greeks & Russians, all fighting to free Serbia from oppression.
The best preserved battlefields of the war are in this area, whole trench systems remain in the mountains where little has changed in a hundred years. I will be facing the same terrain & weather conditions that they did, but fortunately not the bullets & shells.
This is the section of the route that worries me the most, it is the nearest that we can get in Europe to true wilderness. Brutal weather conditions, large populations of Brown Bears & wolves, fearsome shepherd dogs, a Rabies problem & 8000+ft mountains.
3. Bitola (Republic of Macedonia) to Nis (Serbia)
This section of the route is 211 miles in total, with 187 miles on road & 24 miles off road.
The off road is all at the beginning & it’s a continuation of the front lines from the previous map. It includes a very well preserved trench system near to the village of Krklino.
This section follows part of the southern route of the Serbian Retreat.
In the Winter of 1915, as much of the Serbian army plus a lot of civilians retreated through the mountains of Montenegro, Macedonia & Albania, they knew that the only way to beat their enemy, was to flee Serbia, so they could live to fight again.
My journey is about remembering the fallen from both sides, but I can’t leave out the fact that Serbia suffered very harshly from the atrocities committed by Austro-Hungarian & Bulgarian soldiers. If one country was affected the most by the war, it was Serbia,
they suffered the highest casualty rate per head of population at nearly 20%!
The off road section involves the same conditions & tribulations as the last map.
4. Nis (Serbia) to Herceg Novi (Montenegro)
This section of the route is 305 miles in total, 284 miles on road & 21 miles off road.
The majority of this section is on road & not really related to the war. I had wanted to include the battles of Cer, Drina & Kolubara in northern Serbia, but there’s not much left from the battle of Cer & the other two are in areas with a land mine danger from the early 1990’s. It would also mean travelling through Bosnia & Northern Croatia in order to get to the start of the Italian Front. Both of these areas are heavily mined and at some point I’ll get caught short & need to pee behind a tree!
Instead, I’ll be skirting around Kosovo. (Land mines and a political situation that I don’t want to get involved in.) I’ll be heading through Montenegro to see two of the most forgotten battlefields of the war. The battle of Mojkovac was fought by the small Montenegrin army against the might of the Austro-Hungarians to protect the retreat of the Serbian army.
The second was an artillery battle on Mount Lovcen with the help of the French against the Austro-Hungarians. This 5000ft peak is the only off road section of this map.
5. Herceg Novi (Montenegro) to Trieste (Italy)
This section of the route is a total of 395 miles on road.
All of this section through Croatia is on road with nothing whatsoever to do with the war.
I’m hoping for good weather…
6. Trieste (Italy) to Timau (Italy)
This section of the route is 133 miles in total. 16 miles are on road, 52 miles are a mixture of on and off road & 65 miles are off road.
The fighting in the north east of Italy & Slovenia was hard & bloody with the Austro-Hungarians holding all of the high ground. The front lines weave between Italy & Slovenia, but this makes route finding easier as long as the weather stays good.
If the weather & ground conditions are poor, plan B is to follow the Italian positions which were usually in the valleys.
The front line in the North is on the border with Austria. Although there weren’t any major battles here, there are still a lot of remains high up in the mountains that reach 8000ft.
Despite the difficulties with the weather & terrain, it will seem like nothing compared to the next map. The Italian Dolomites….