References

THE LINES OF TORRES VEDRAS

'Thank you Clive for giving us such a revealing tour of the Lines of Torres Vedras last week. You have such a depth of knowledge of Portugal - a country we were visiting for the first time. You enabled us to visit places we wouldn't otherwise have been able to reach, and I have to say the lunch was the best we had during our week. I have had an interest in military history throughout my life, though I have tended to concentrate on earlier periods. I had read of the Lines, and have long wished to see them for myself. They were one of the most significant fortifications in European history, and I am glad that the Portuguese authorities are beginning to preserve and interpret them for visitors. Thank you once again for a memorable day.'

Matthew and Henriette Alexander. March 2016

  

Wellington’s headquarters   THE LINES OF TORRES VEDRAS    Forte São Vicente

‘I cannot thank you enough for a really special tour.  We all enjoyed it tremendously and I was particularly taken by how you pitched the talk perfectly to the audience giving the boys enough information, yet keeping me interested. We would never have been able to find the lines of Torres Vedras without you. Elvas was a delight particularly as it is so well preserved, the contrast with Badajoz is stark. Our bacon was saved because our guide checked and discovered that the car rental company in Badajoz closed for the weekend at 1pm, an hour before our agreed pickup.  The guide then changed the itinerary to allow us to pick it up early’.

Hugo, Inigo and Felix Hawkings, April, 2014   

  
          

Fort 42 – 2nd Line   THE LINES OF TORRES VEDRAS    The Great Redoubt – 2nd Line

‘I just wanted to write two lines to say how much we enjoyed the group trip round the Lines on Sunday. THANKYOU. I’ve had feedback from various members of the group – all were delighted. Great organisation Clive! Five Stars – ranging from your impeccable organisation through to the fantastic lunch at the Quinta de Póvoa. You are fantastic. Count on us for future trips – not only as participants, but we’d also like to know how we can help in the organisation. We know how much work is involved. Let’s keep in touch!’ 

Benedicta Lucena, September, 2011

 

'What a beautiful, interesting, memorable day you gave us. We feel as if we had taken a real journey in time and space and learned a huge amount along the way. We are so grateful for all you did to make everything as perfect as it was, from the reading material so carefully chosen and prepared, to the choice of itinerary and of course the Lucullan meal with your very nice friends.'

Hellmut and Alice Wohl, July 2010

 

'Just a note to say that I have heard nothing but praise from all of our party for the excellent job that you did as a guide for our trip to Torres Vedras. The choice of restaurant and menu was also highly praised'.

Rod Macarthur, British Legion, Torre del Mar Branch. June 2010

 

'Well executed, with a passionate and very well informed guide, the 11 Signal Brigade Battlefield Study to the Lines of Torres Vedras was both an excellent medium for professional development and hugely enjoyable’.

Brigadier Alan Hill, Commander 11 Signal Brigade, June 2010

 

'In order to properly understand Wellington's defensive lines, which run for many miles over the hills around Lisbon, it is highly desirable, if not essential, to have a well informed guide. Luckily in Clive Gilbert, from the BHS of Portugal, there is someone who mixes depth of knowledge, with humour and a very good lunch...... ’

Crawford Macdonald. September 2008

 

'I thought that the tour had a very good balance and Clive Gilbert’s deep knowledge was invaluable. Personally I enjoyed walking up to forts 120 and 5 at the end. It gave a sense of achievement and the wildness is romantic - you really are off the beaten track and the fact that you can see exactly where Massena realised he was being beaten, is important. I would like to do more tours of this quality. I enjoyed the wine tasting too. All in all, I had a great time – thank you.’

N.A.H., October 2005

 

'I booked my family on a half-day tour of the Lines and we all enjoyed the visit immensely. We especially appreciated the excellent explanation by the guide, Clive Gilbert, as well as the pleasure of his company. He also gave us extensive information on suggested reading. Thank you.’

Luis Veiga da Cunha, July 2005.

ROLIÇA & VIMEIRO

'Our tour with Mark was the highlight of an excellent holiday. Calling it 'a tour' was rather like terming an Aston Martin 'a car', technically correct but totally inadequate. Think rather of spending a day with a good acquaintance who just happens to be a fine raconteur. He brought the Peninsular War to life, taking us up tracks we would never have essayed in a hire car and highlighting viewpoints we could never have discovered with a map guide. We packed in Obidos, Roliça, Vimeiro and the Lines of Torres Vedras in to one day, but nothing was rushed and we never felt the clock was being watched. We 'saw' the first phase of the war from the initial contact at Brilos (seen from the walls of Obidos), through Roliça's gory gullies, the landing beaches, and on to the bolder sweep of the Vimeiro battlefield, and thence to the Lines of Torres Vedras, where some forts have been restored. No book, no map, no Google earth aerial photograph can bring home the reality of the battlefield of Roliça, as can standing at the low wall from which the French decimated the 29th. By contrast, Vimeiro had a strangely sweeping grandeur, the scene of a death dance formed of several set pieces. Our day ended by visiting points along the Lines of Torres Vedras, and the headquarters of Spencer, Wellesley, and Beresford, whose abode is in a sad state of dilapidated grandeur and may not survive many decades if not restored. We fortified ourselves with some of Wellesley's favourite local white wine, and were dropped back at our hotel in Lisbon feeling privileged to have seen both our own military history and Portugal as is really is, beyond the tourist sites.'

Sophia and Peter Buxton, April 2016

   

           The attack of the 29th, Columbeira, Rolica       Looking towards the skirmish at Brilos, Óbidos                    

'Highly recommended. The Battlefield Tour was tailored to our special interests, well planned and efficiently conducted. Our guide was enormously knowledgeable about the Peninsular War and was able to explain clearly how the battles and related history unfolded.  Seeing the terrain and having his explanations brought alive to us the battles in which our ancestor participated. We are very glad that we found out about the British Historical Society of Portugal and that you were able to arrange a tour for us. A thoroughly enjoyable and educational day.'

Connie C. and Bev H., Australia. August, 2015

    

  The Heights of Columbeira – ROLIÇA         Wellington’s HQ at Pero Negro - LTV

 

'Clive and Mark were superb guides and hosts. I can't imagine more informed guides for the Portuguese portion of the Peninsular War, including visits to unique sites seldom visited by others.'

Terry & Marya Holcombe, July 2010

 

'Overall Tour Experience: Five star, and highly recommended for anyone looking for a tour with a personal touch. The basic arrangements – transport, accommodation, meals – ran like clockwork, while the tour booklet neatly encapsulated the events in each day’s schedule. The guides knew the campaigns and the country over which they were conducted in the detail that only comes from exploring both on the ground for a number of years, and they communicated that knowledge very effectively to the group. Being locally based, they were also able to introduce us to people and places beyond the scope of other battlefield tours, and to share their wider knowledge of Portuguese history, cuisine, wines and wildlife. All in all, an unforgettable experience and one I’d be happy to repeat.'

Clare Harding, August 2008

 

'Both guides used their detailed knowledge of both the events of the time and the country in which they happened to take us off the beaten track to locations other tours haven’t reached. Their readiness to tailor the tour to include sites of particular interest to our group was also much appreciated. As a result, I now have a much better understanding of the parts of the Peninsular campaign that we covered. The trip coincided with a number of events to mark the start of the war. Thanks to their local knowledge, our guides were able to deliver us to the right places at the right times to view the events at Columbeira and Vimeiro, as well as to local exhibitions of contemporary material which added another dimension to the tour as a learning experience.'

Clare Harding, August 2008

BUSSACO

'I thoroughly enjoyed both days and learnt an enormous amount not only about Bussaco and the Lines but the whole campaign - your extemporised summary of the Peninsula on the drive up to Bussaco was remarkable! Added to that your local knowledge and contacts made possible other highlights including the visit to the farm that was General Brent Spencer’s HQ and access to the French HQ - not to mention the excellent lunches.'

Richard Paley, April 2011

ELVAS, BADAJOZ, ALBUERA

We really enjoyed our time with you all.  We appreciate your effort in organising our whole tour and the obvious work you put in to ensure our trip was a success. Your genuine interest in our wellbeing and your personable approach when guiding brought the Peninsular War to "life" for us.  For this we are grateful and will we certainly recommend the BHSP to anyone interested in seeing Portugal or Spain from a different perspective. Once again thank you for your time and effort in making our holiday in the Peninsular a very memorable experience.

Jim (and Kabita and Nisha) Kirkham, August 2011

            

 Standing by Col. Lake's tomb, ROLIÇA                 In front of the Trinidad breach, BADAJOZ 
 

'Being on the spot at Elvas, Badajoz and Albuera brings the history to life in a way that books simply can't do. For me it was not only standing on the Fatal Hill or the ramparts of the forts at Elvas and Badajoz, it was also being surrounded by the descendants of the soldiers who so bravely fought there, and also the Spanish and Portuguese who would have been at their sides. You were such an efficient guide - keeping to the agenda like clockwork, and all the research and preparation you had done told us so much about the places we were looking at. The hotel was wonderful,the food a treat in both countries and the sunshine, though hot, was a mighty restorative after our long English winter!'

Alice Berkeley, May 2011

 

‘The British Historical Society recently organised a one-day trip to some of the most notable and still complete battlefield sites of the Peninsular wars, namely to Elvas in Portugal and Badajoz in Spain. The tour guide Maj. (Retd.) Nick Halidie was superb. He was not only supremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but was able to bring the subject alive with his many anecdotes of the time. He was very ably supported by Clive Gilbert, who is acknowledged as the expert in Portugal on the Peninsular Wars and the Lines of Torres Vedras in particular. It was amazing that so much was covered in one day and the time flew by, but for me the highlight of the day was standing before the main breach at Badajoz, in the actual ditch where so many had so valiantly fought and died. A truly humbling experience and the conclusion to a memorable and amazing day.'

Christopher Shiell, March 2005.

CIUDAD RODRIGO, FUENTES DE OÑORO, ALMEIDA & THE COA.

“A really fun and informative trip which we can absolutely recommend.  Mark is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide and helped bring to life the battles and the human drama of the Peninsula Wars.  He dealt with our tirade of questions with unfailing good humour.  The fact that the trip took us through some pretty parts of Portugal was a bonus.  Highlights of the trip included the battlefield of Salamanca, Ciudad Rodrigo, the Bussaco Ridge, River Coa, the memorial ceremony at Elvas and the lunch at the Palace Hotel at Bussaco. Thanks Mark for a memorable few days!”

Feroze Janmohamed, David Humphreys, David Lunan & Sid Sporle, May, 2014

    

             The Main Breach – CIUDAD RODRIGO         Wellington’s Headquarters - FREINEIDA         

‘Our four day trip with Mark and Clive was the highlight of a six week European holiday in 2013.It was great to be in the company of two people who were not only highly knowledgeable about the history of the Peninsular War, but were also enthusiasts.The insights to the conduct of various actions, the opportunity to put eye witness statements in context in remarkably unchanged landscapes (eucalyptus trees and wind turbines not withstanding) and the capacity to explain what happened and why was exceptional. The accommodation, lunches and good company all made this a great experience way exceeding expectations.A tour highly recommended for anyone with an interest in this piece of the Napoleonic wars, and whose wife is willing to tag along. For further comment feel free to contact us at: zillwood1@bigpond.com.’

Stan & Sheila Zillwood, Melbourne Australia, August, 2013

 
 
Paimogo Bay - the site of Anstruther's landing on 19th August, 1808 - VIMEIRO

'Thank you so much for all those little ‘extras’. Seeing little villages and meeting the local historian was something special. Your contact in Madrid for visiting the battlefield site of Salamanca was very helpful and he put me in contact with a local guide who had played over the Arapiles as a child! Thank you again, the whole tour was a great experience. I’d recommend it!'

E.P. New Zealand. May 2008

 

'We want to say how much we enjoyed our British Historical Society of Portugal tour. You put together a programme that suited us ideally and we had a delightful and most interesting week in Portugal.'

M.R., July 2006

 
          
 

   The Roman bridge at CIUDAD RODRIGO     The church at FUENTES DE OÑORO

        

OPORTO

‘I would like to thank you for the time that we spent with you at Óbidos, Porto and Elvas and all the other battlefields. Your enthusiasm and passion for the battles I found to be very informative and interesting and has inspired me to develop a greater understanding of the Peninsular War. We greatly appreciated your company throughout the tour and the dinner at Porto by the Douro River will remain one of my most fondest memories of our holiday. Thank you once again for making our trip to Portugal and Spain such an unforgettable experience. Thank you also for taking us to Fátima and the Temple of Diana, which were no part of the Peninsular War tour.’

Kabita (and Jim and Nisha) Kirkham, Kirrawee, NSW, Australia, August, 2011

 
        
    The Peninsular War monument in OPORTO     Kabita by Wellington's bust in LISBON