My companions on the trip were Andy and our respective wives and we arrived in the dark after a fairly gruelling drive from Scotland. I immediately perked up however on parking the car by the famous south gate of Hougoumont and taking in the atmosphere. We were the only people there (the caretaker was on holiday) which added to the magic as I set about exploring the courtyard by torchlight.
All I can say is I had a fantastic time and Andy and I managed to complete a short circular tour of the battlefield next day taking in La Haye Sainte and La Belle Alliance. I took quite a few photos and here is a selection of the most interesting ones.
|Me outside the south gate of Hougoumont. This is the door used to get to the self-catering accommodation in the apartment above in what was the gardener's cottage.|
|The same place on a slightly busier day.|
|The living room in the Landmark Trust apartment. The standard of accommodation was surprisingly good although in common with all Landmark Trust properties there was no TV or Wi-Fi|
|The view from our bedroom window in the gardener's cottage looking more or less southeast towards the French lines. You can almost hear the drummers beating the pas-de-charge.|
|The view from the first floor (kitchen) looking down on the courtyard of Hougoumont. The white building on the right is the chapel.|
|The gardener's cottage from the courtyard. The guest accommodation covers the whole top floor and attic.|
|The north gate from the courtyard. The famous gate where the French managed to break in briefly before the gates were heroically shut and the intruders wiped out by the garrison.|
|The monument to the British defenders of Hougoumont.|
|This is the chapel - the only remaining part of the Chateau that must have dwarfed the courtyard before its destruction on 18 June. What surprised me the most about Hougoumont is how small an area it actually occupied.|
|The memorial to the Guards on the chapel wall.|
|A boyhood dream come true - Mercer's battery once stood here, I first read of his exploits in 1970!|
|A plaque dedecated to Mercer's troop of the RHA.|
|The recently built visitor's centre is excellent and a must on any visit. It has been cleverly constructed under ground and blends sympathetically into the landscape - unlike the Lion's Mound.|
|There are some great life size mannequins displaying Napoleonic uniforms - really useful for finding out what some of those odd accoutrements are that are modelled on wargame figures.|
|The path in this picture marks the crest of the ridge we'd just walked on viewed from the mound (looking towards Braine L' Alleud). The ground to the left is where the French cavalry and later the Imperial Guard would have advanced.|
|This is La Haye Sainte from ground level (coming down 225 steps is easier than going up them). Interesting to see how it is in quite a dip when viewed from the allied lines.|
|La Haye Sainte looking down the road (now very busy) in the direction of La Belle Alliance.|
|The gate of La Haye Sainte - looks just like my Airfix model.|
|Having forced everyone to spend a day walking Waterloo it was only right that we spent the next day in Brussels - something Napoleon never managed to achieve.|
If any of you want to suggest to your own daughter that they pay for a similar trip then full details can be found on the Landmark Trust website – click here.