Cockleshell Heroes Commando Experience

12 Days


Cockleshell Heroes Commando Challenge

In December 1942 an audacious raid took place on the Bay of Biscay port of Bordeaux by 12 Commandos led by Major ‘Blondie’ Hasler. They travelled to mouth of the Gironde Estuary in the submarine, HMS Tuna before disembarking in 6 folding kayaks codenamed ‘Cockles’ before stealthily passing the German patrol vessels and moving by night to the target 100 km into enemy held territory. They would then escape on foot to liaise with the French resistance who would spirit them across the Pyrenees into safety in neutral Spain. However, disaster struck almost immediately and through a combination of terrible conditions, double crosses and the dreaded ‘Commando Order’, only two would survive to tell the tale.

Starting upon arrival at Bordeaux airport, you will travel through the spectacular wine region as you head to Pointe de Grave on the Atlantic Coast. Walking to the end of the mole, you will see first-hand the overfalls and vast size of the estuary which would have been alive with German patrol vessels attempting to stop any allied shipping from passing towards Bordeaux. After a nights rest near to the site HMS Tuna said their farewells to the Commandos, you will return to Pointe de Grave to commence the challenging paddle, following the tides and laying up in camp sites during the night. You will see the reed marshes the raiders hid in and primed their limpet mines before arriving at the site of the destruction of 4 blockade runners.

The following day you will commence a 160km cycle over 3 days from Blaye to Ruffec, following the route that Hasler and Sparks took to their rendezvous with the French resistance, realising just how isolated and at risk of capture they would have been. You will have chance to see the infamous Firey Woodsman’s Cottage before arriving in Ruffec.

Tired and weary, you will spend the night in a lovely gite before travelling to the start of the walk phase on the French side of the Pyrenees. This replicates the way that the French resistance moved Hasler and Sparks by various means of transport to their meeting point with the guides who would lead them to safety. On foot you will travel their route over the Pyrenees before heading down to Barcelona to catch a flight home.

Throughout this expedition, you will be able to follow in the footsteps of the raiders, learn about their heroic deeds and fully appreciate the scale of their achievements.


  • Kayak from Pointe de Grave to Bordeaux
  • Cycle from Blaye to Ruffec
  • Walk the escape route across the Pyrenees
  • Partner with an experienced team of Commandos


Your expedition starts at the hotel in Bordeaux. Transfers from Bordeaux Airport are provided. Depending on your arrival time, you may have the opportunity to explore the immediate vicinity of the hotel and get acclimatised to this bustling city. Alternatively, you may prefer to recover from your journey by relaxing beside the hotel pool. The team will take dinner with you and will provide an informal briefing about the days ahead and show you the quayside in Bordeaux where the Commandos destroyed the German shipping. This will also be the end point of the Paddle Phase


Hotel with swimming pool

After an early breakfast, we will drive to




Today, the majority of the Everest Marathon competitors will be arriving in Lukla and from this point onwards we will be sharing the trail and many of the lodges with runners from all over the world. After a leisurely breakfast at our lodge (there's no need to make an early start) we will make the easy hike, largely downhill, to our first lodge at Phakding (2610m) beside the Dudh Kosi River.

A very pleasant walk by the river through pine forest leads to a short climb to escape a narrow gorge section. We pass the entrance to the Khumbu National Park (where details of our permits are recorded) and then drop down again to the river, which we cross on a suspension bridge. We continue up the wooded valley on a good trail and cross the river again before reaching a confluence of rivers, one coming down from Thame and the other from the Khumbu. We make a final crossing here on a spectacular high suspension bridge and then begin an hour and half ascent to Namche Bazaar (3400m) on a wide switchback trail. This is the sting in the tail of today’s otherwise gentle ascent and one of the steepest parts of the entire route to basecamp. On arrival in Namche, we check into our lodge and have time to look around the Sherpa capital.


Cost Includes

  • 2 full training weekends prior to expedition in Anglesey
  • Comprehensive folding kayak training package where you meet your expedition partner, become confident with capsize drills, paddling techniques and water safety
  • All accomodation
  • All feeding
  • Kit Hire (excluding sleeping bag and personal kit)
  • Transport in country from airport pick-up to airport drop-off

Cost Excludes

  • Flights
  • Personal Kit
  • Sleeping bags and sleeping mats

Route Map

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Cockleshell Heroes Commando Experience
From £2679
/ Adult
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