This is the third part of my China trek series as I trek parts of the Great Wall of China for charity.
I felt good after yesterday’s trek and ready for what would be one of the longest and toughest days. We’d spent the night in home-stay accommodation and our rooms were off the courtyard dining room, the only downside being that breakfast preparations had started at 5am and woken me. After a Chinese breakfast of noodle soup, we’d made our own pack lunches and set off.
This part of the wall from Gubeikou to Jinshanling was remote, with narrow paths leading high up into the mountains, many parts in disrepair and some dangerous sections. We would have to be careful today and at the previous night’s briefing we’d been told to make sure to have our insurance documents on us and to let the leaders know where to find them should we need them. Crikey where were we going!
With 38 people in our group, plus local guides, group leaders and Doctor we walked in single file up a narrow dirt path through bushes climbing higher and higher up the steps to get to the top of the wall. As we emerged from the undergrowth the path again climbed and I felt particularly vulnerable stood on this path with a big drop either side and a small breeze building. The scenery is absolutely jaw dropping, the mountains all around us and in the distance covered in haze. I paid attention to my feet as we continued across the narrow path, some parts with dilapidated wall, some parts just dirt, rubble and rock. I’m not great with heights and it was easy to get distracted from the great view but you had to keep your wits about you.
It was an amazing day, tough in many places with the steps and rocky sections and with so many watch towers to cover we would have to walk up many old brick-made steps, walk through the tower and then there would steep steps down the other side. I had my lunch on top of a mountain inside one of the watch towers. We all sat in any space we could find around the ruins of the tower and the views were amazing. My feet were hot; the heat had been intense and I took the opportunity to take off my boots and treat some hot spots that were threatening to turn into blisters.
After lunch we covered more watch towers and more steps, finally having to come off the wall and take steep dirt paths to navigate around this section of the wall that was closed for the military. We walked through lush undergrowth, past dirt covered fields and we even found some bamboo as we made our way to a remote farmhouse for a break. The farm had a freezer full of ice lollies and it was a welcome treat to sit on a little metal stool and munch the lolly.
We set off again working our way up an incredibly steep single file dirt track, I was grateful for my walking poles helping me to keep me on my feet as I nearly slid back down into the person behind me. We had many interesting sections here as we walked back up to the wall and past the military zone, more sections to climb and holes to negotiate. I had to concentrate so much that I didn’t take any photos in the afternoon for fear of letting go of my poles.
After re-joining the wall and another eight watch towers we walked down more steps to a steep winding driveway and into a more tourist area with little stalls now lining our way. After some group stretching exercises we walked to our accommodation and the welcome sight was a little pub! I was tired, feet a little sore but happy to have managed another day on the wall without incident.
In my next blog; The trek continues, we see incredible views and I accidentally walk more watch towers than anticipated!
For more photos and videos from my time in China head over to my Facebook page.
Have you trekked somewhere exciting? let me know.
This is the second instalment from my recent China trek adventures where I took part in a 5-day charity trek on the Great Wall of China.
Today our trek would start properly and I was excited, but after the shock of yesterday’s walk also worried that maybe it would be too hard for me to achieve. We were up early after an unsettled sleep and I’d woken up feeling cold. After a strange breakfast of cold fried eggs, jasmine tea, sweet bread and jam (that I spread on with chopsticks!) we were taken by coach to Taipingzhai where we would walk back to the barracks where we had been staying.
Our guides yesterday had pointed out where we would be walking and we’d seen what looked like tiny ants coming down a steep section of the wall. Today was our turn to be the tiny ants.
It was the first time I was using two walking poles and they had been adjusted for me by one of the group leaders and I’d had a bit of a lesson. Now was time to use them properly as I made my way up the steps to the first part of a restored section of the wall. They were a pest and I kept getting my feet out of sync with my arms but later in the trek they would prove to be invaluable.
This part of the wall because it was restored had a few tourists visiting where later in the remote sections we hardly saw anyone. It was also our first taste of being celebrities and we had many Chinese tourists taking our photos or coming and standing near us to have their photo taken with a western person.
It was tough going, the early morning cold has disappeared and now the heat was immense, we had lots of steep steps up and down with a few flatter slippy sections in between. The scenery was spectacular and at the top of every flight of steps was another incredible view of the wall snaking its way over the mountains in the distance. There were a lot of dizzying drops off the wall too so I would have to be careful and pay attention to my feet.
We walked approx. 5km in 3 hours and I enjoyed it! I felt a lot better about the trek and had spoken to lots of people in my group, everyone had felt the same about the previous days walk and we had all started chatting and getting to know each other – phew they were nice people. I was starting to think if the wall is all like today I can do this.
Once we made it back to the barracks area we had lunch again in the restaurant, and then a few of us had a walk to a little shop and then along the road outside the barracks where we saw some horses we wanted to photograph. Their owner wasn’t happy about us taking pictures but agreed on a deal where if we paid him we could take as many as we liked. One of the girls even got on the horse but I wasn’t that brave. After a bit of relaxing we were back on the coach for transfer to our next lodgings at a homestay in Jinshanling.
Read my next blog as we walk to Jinshanling on what would be one of our hardest and longest days walking 8 hours and covering over 20 watchtowers.
For more photos and videos of my time in China you can also check out my Facebook page.
I’m back from my Great Wall of China trek something as you know I’ve been working towards since last year. I’m going to split my adventure across a few blog posts so that I can tell you about my experience and show you a few of the hundreds of photos I took.
It was everything I hoped it would be and a whole lot more. I can’t begin to explain what an incredible experience it was; mentally, emotionally and physically challenging – and one of the best things I have ever done. I’m so proud of myself that I achieved it, I conquered the wall!
But I’ll start at the beginning of my adventure...
I set off on my adventure on my own, I’m terrified of flying and sat for the two flights first from Heathrow and then from Helsinki by myself, desperately trying not to grab the arm of the Chinese person sat next to me as we hit turbulence.
We arrived in Beijing and I met the other trekkers in various queues in the airport as we negotiated temperature and then passport control. The airport is so vast that from arrivals you take a small train to the rest of the airport. We then took the coach to our first overnight home at the old barracks at Huangyaguan. After our first taste of a Chinese lunch at a local restaurant, where we chatted and introduced ourselves, we were told we would be taking a short walk on the wall. Exciting! The temperature the whole time we were there was over 30° and we had been up over 30 hours. Surely it would just be a little walk to ease our muscles? How wrong we were. The short walk was a strenuous two hours on a steep part of the wall, sweat dripping off me and lungs burning I was feeling a little despondent and exhausted. As I reached the highest watchtower we were aiming for I thought I might be sick. It was the only time on the trip I thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this.
After the walk, I treated myself to a beer, had a chat with my group and after dinner at the restaurant went to bed wondering what on earth was in store for us tomorrow. I think we were all in shock at how hard that little walk had been, we were all in bed for about 8pm!
Read my next blog as I trek from Taipingzhai back to the barracks at Huangyaguan – would I be feeling any better as the trek really starts going?
Check out my Facebook page for more photos.
In three days, I’m setting off on one of my biggest journeys and physical challenges, next stop is China!
You’ll know from reading my blog that this is something I’ve been working towards since my recovery from two lots of hip surgery, over a year of exercises, training and working towards going on a charity trek on the Great Wall.
A lot of my ‘journey’ has already happened both mentally and physically I had to convince myself (and maybe a few others along the way!) that I’m strong and fit enough to do this. Looking back on some of our earliest family walks Climbing my personal mountain, and our two Yorkshire Peaks walk and I’m so proud of how far all of us have come.
A few weekends ago I did a few walks with some more hill training, using the moors at Burley-in- Wharfedale and Ilkley and then the fells near Arncliffe, in the Yorkshire Dales as my training ground. The Arncliffe to Kettlewell circular walk with my husband was hard going in places and we even had to do a bit a rock climbing! But we did the walk in good time, had a few rests on the way up some of the steeper hills but all in all didn’t suffer too badly. The hips behaved! The weather was a bit too kind and even though we had slapped on the sun cream we still got a little red. Something I’ll have to be careful with on my China trip as the expected temperature is about 30°.
This weekend I’ve been taking things easy, well apart from a day out with the girls where I wore high heels all day, but luckily my feet recovered quickly from that!
So, next stop is China! I’m so excited and terrified all at the same time. Did I mention I’m frightened of flying? Well two flights will quickly sort that out and I meet the group I’m travelling with for the first time at the airport. I’m sure everyone will be as nervous as me about our big adventure but I’m hoping to make lots of new friends.
There are going to be some tough days but I’m going to keep in mind the people who have been cheering me on from the start, the hugs I’ve been given, messages of support I’ve received and finally the reason I’m doing this to raise money and awareness for The Ectopic Pregnancy trust.
It's going to be incredible, see you when I get back! x
We’ve been promising the kids a visit to London for ages, so with a bank holiday it was a great opportunity for us to go down on the train. It’s just over three hours for us so we bought activity packs for the kids and they were happy to read their books and look out of the window as we zipped along.
We pre-bought visitor oyster cards and had them posted to us so that when we arrived we were ready to ride the tube. I thought the kids might be frightened with it being so busy with lots of escalators, lifts and trains to navigate. They weren't bothered and enjoyed looking out for all the stations. I also felt a bit better as I'm doing this journey by myself in a few weeks with my big trek bags, this was good practice.
We stayed in a Premier Inn at Earl’s Court getting a family room, we’ve always found them to be clean and comfortable and if you eat there for breakfast the kids eat for free. My son always takes advantage of the cooked breakfast and this time the pancakes with chocolate spread! I didn’t mind as we a full day of wandering around planned so he needed a full tummy.
With a long list the kids wanted to tick off we headed for Hyde Park and Marble Arch. The park was lovely and we even got some plank training in!
The usual sights were on our list including a visit to the see the Queen of course! We also bought a City Cruise hop-on hop-off family rover ticket and spent a few hours cruising up and down the Thames, making it down to Greenwich for a wander. The tall ships festival was on so there was a real buzz about the place with people dressed up and lots of little stalls. We were so lucky with the weather and even had some glorious sunshine.
After the boat trip, we wandered around Westminster (no sign of Larry at Downing Street), Trafalgar Square and eventually making it to Chinatown and Leicester Square where we had a great meal in a Chinese restaurant. We had worked up quite an appetite now and despite some sitting on the boat had walked over 7 miles.
Our final day and we had a quick whizz around The Natural History Museum as my Daughter was desperate to see the Triceratops. We’d thankfully gone early and the queues when we went in were quite small despite a bag security check. She loved the Dinosaur exhibition and bought her own Triceratops from the Dino store as an early birthday present. We got a bit lost inside and with a train to catch we didn’t have time to explore.
On the way there we had walked through the stunning Kensington gardens and stumbled upon the newly opened Princess Diana Memorial garden. It was beautiful and the lovely weather had meant some of the flowers had come out early.
In no time at all our weekend in the big smoke was over. The kids loved London and even before we left they said they wanted to visit again. There were a few sleepy heads on the train home!
For more pictures visit my Facebook page.
All views are my own and I received no incentive to write this.
With the glorious weather this weekend we took the opportunity to plan a trip to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal water garden a world heritage site near Ripon. After a week cooped up with an infection and a training ban I was eager to get back out and do some walking, especially in glorious weather. I’d taken Hubby to Fountains Abbey on one of our early dates in an attempt to sell Yorkshire to him (it worked!) and so was keen to take the kids to explore. My Daughter however was then poorly so Hubby sent me and my son on our own little adventure.
We had planned to do some of the walks we found on the website but we were both excited to see the abbey itself so first headed from the visitor centre down to the abbey. The surroundings are stunning and my 9-year-old even uttered a ‘Cool’ when we got our first glimpse and he practically dragged me down the winding path to get a better look.
After wandering inside the ruins, we walked up the wide lawn and looked back at the abbey getting a fantastic view and from there took the footpath around the Studley Royal Water gardens. There are so many scenic views as you walk around that I could have spent all day just taking photos but we were on a mission to pick up the route of the ‘Seven Bridges Valley’… oh and find deer which were on my Son’s must see list.
We picked up the route at the bottom of Studley lake and followed the path over the rustic bridges using one of the printed walking guides we’d picked up at the visitor centre. It was apt given I’m training for my China trek that these bridges now made of stone were originally timber and made in a Chinese lattice style and we would also walk past what were formerly Chinese gardens. The path then made its way up hill and we could smell the wild garlic and even managed to spot a few bluebells. Despite the full carpark we had the path to ourselves and as we walked through the woods my Son began to doubt my map reading and was convinced we were lost, never to find a deer! However, we soon came to the Mackershaw Lodge and its kissing gates to walk back down through Mackershaw park.
There under a canopy of trees and enjoying the shade were some deer. My Son skulked off in hunter mode with the camera to have a look at what he was convinced were horses! He was miles away from the deer and I assumed all this time he had been taking photos, but no he was just looking at them through the camera so he could zoom in. We only got one fuzzy shot of them but mission accomplished.
From here we walked back to Studley Lake, stopping for ice-cream and walking along another path past the Temple of Piety and moon pond and then eventually reaching the abbey again.
We had a great day, the scenery is so stunning and someone said to me the other day that Fountains Abbey has a magic about it and I can’t agree more.
What did you do this weekend in the glorious weather? Let me know in the comments, we’re always on the lookout for new places to explore. Over on my Facebook page we have more pictures and videos of our adventures.
All views are my own and I’ve received no incentive to write this post.
At last we had some sunshine this weekend for our walking adventures and we headed to Jervaulx Abbey for a circular walk of approx. 7 miles. Great to get outside when it’s not blowing a gale.
We started from the Jervaulx abbey tearooms carpark, putting our £1 in the honesty box for the parking and crossing the road to start our walk. What struck me immediately was the serenity of the gorgeous parkland…well it would have been without my two running around! The abbey grounds are beautiful and apart from a photographer who quickly beetled away and a few cyclists we had the grounds to ourselves. As we followed the track through the park we noticed some hilly mounds that my son decided were from the Hobbit and from a small copse we could hear the hammering of a woodpecker. He didn’t make an appearance for the camera though!
Having walked through the parkland we emerged on to a small road and for a while we walked along here until the next footpath took us across some fields. The weather was glorious but the rain in previous days had meant lots of water had collected in the most inconvenient of places…. right under the stiles we had to cross over! I’m not scared of a bit of water and mud but up to our ankles and with two kids who are even shorter certainly isn’t great. A few gates later and my son was once again dancing from foot to foot ankle deep in mud and not helping himself by trying to get to drier ground.
Eventually getting him out of the mud we arrived in the historic village of Thornton Steward which can be traced back to 1041, it’s a quiet village with picturesque views and I spied a gorgeous cottage I wouldn’t mind spending a weekend in.
At the far end of the village and through woodland we reached the church of St Oswald’s said to be the oldest church in Wenslydale. We had worked up quite an appetite and stopped for snacks and to shed a few layers – the thermal base layer had seemed like a good idea early that morning.
After the church, we had a stroll along pastureland and through fields of sheep and little lambs. I could have watched the lambs in their baggy skin all day, so cute! We walked past the gorgeous Danby Hall that I’ve put on my house shopping list and eventually alongside the River Ure.
We stopped for a quick drink in the Coverbridge Inn whilst the kids played on the swings before crossing the bridge and following the river back to the abbey.
A gorgeous walk although not suitable for pushchairs or if you have very small children as there are some points you need to walk on roads. You can follow the route we took here on the viewranger website it took us just under 4 hours but we did have a stop in the pub and some trouble getting over flooded stiles!
For a glimpse of what we got up to check out our video!
All views are my own and we received no incentive to write this.
This time our Hip2trek adventure was to Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales.
Our walk started near the village of Greenhow and so we took the opportunity before our walk began to explore the Coldstones Cut sculpture. I’d seen some amazing pictures of the sculpture on Facebook and so it gave us the inspiration to explore this area.
From the Toft Gate Lime Kiln free car park, we followed the clearly marked path 600m up to the Coldstone Cuts sculpture. It’s a massive sculpture perched on top of Greenhow Hill that you can walk around and which looks over the Coldstones Quarry, the highest quarry in England. It also offers stunning views across Nidderdale and you can see for miles. The Kids loved the street style of the sculpture and there’s two different winding ‘streets’ up to the top. Each child chose an opposite side and ran around to see who could make it to the top first. If you head to my Hip2trek Facebook page you can see a video as we walked to the top. Little lady had problems seeing over the handrail so I had to lift her up momentarily to see the incredible view and we waved to the boys on the opposite side. Having explored the sculpture, we walked back down the big hill to the car park for our next part of the adventure.
Nidderdale is an area on outstanding beauty and there’s quite a few walks in the area that you can find on the internet all following similar routes. We chose an anti-clockwise circular route and from the car park crossed the road to the fingerpost that led us downhill across pastures. Dodging the many molehills my Daughter was worried she might stand on a moles head!
It was a hard-strenuous walk, quite remote in places (or at least it felt like it!) but the scenery was beautiful and we certainly had some interesting encounters. We had heard shooting as we walked down a valley but with the surrounding hills and the sound travelling we didn’t expect to find clay pigeon shooters right below the path. It was a terrifying experience walking along the path knowing the guns were near but not knowing from which direction they came. There had been no signs so we assumed we were safe. I have never been so frightened but we walked past their shooting unscathed although the heart rate will have been high.
Having past this and walked down a winding footpath into an old mining area we came to a ford across the path. We’d known from checking the route beforehand to expect this but with the rain the night before it had become a bit more of a raging torrent! There was no way I was walking past the clay pigeon shooters again so there was nothing for it we going to cross somehow. Me and our eldest could get across by jumping from rock to rock (My Son had a wet foot!) but Little legs and Hubby were a bit stuck. In the end after much debating they walked further downstream and with a bit of team work we got them across. You can see more video of this on my Facebook page!
A beautiful walk through moorlands and old mining areas, we certainly got a good workout and the last mile home was all up hill. A great day out, some interesting moments adding to the adventure and despite a slip and slide in the squelchy, boggy mud we had all managed to remain upright!
Recently we had a very busy weekend but not an outdoors walking one, this time it was with a family wedding and then our fundraising fair for the Ectopic Pregnancy trust at a local community hall in Birkenshaw.
The family wedding was in Manchester and it was lovely to dress up for the day and swap the walking boots for some smarter shoes!
The next day was time for the fundraising fair. Friends and friends of friends were brilliant in collecting books for our book stall and there were many times I walked through the school playground to be handed another bag of books! Everyone was so helpful in finding me raffle prizes and I roped in some helpers who baked cakes or bought a stall space. Thanks to local businesses we had a great variety of wonderful raffle prizes for the raffle.
I was completely overwhelmed by the support from people and those that visited the fair, we raised a fantastic amount for the charity (over £316!) and hopefully more people are now aware of ectopic pregnancies. The good news didn’t end there as more donations poured in and the next day I was in my local paper detailing my China trek.
I can’t thank all those involved enough including local Bradford businesses who donated the raffle prizes Heathfield Farm Inns, Café Lulu, Jellybean Bakery, Ginger Whale, Keelham Farm Shop, Mandy Miller Broadcast Services ,Willow and Blossom Pamper Spa and Emma Driver Forever Living. Matilda Brooke – Felt and Fabricated donated proceeds from their sale of purple bows.
Now back to the walking boots and training as the China trek draws nearer!
Our half term activities were thwarted somewhat by the weather AGAIN! I can’t wait for spring to arrive and better weather as at the moment we just seem to be going from one storm to another.
We did manage a small walk from Grassington to Burnsall recently, walking along the River Wharfe but the wind was starting to pick up and there was lots of mud around. The muddy walks sap so much more energy but we certainly got to blow some cobwebs away and this would be an easy walk on nicer days. I’d picked the wrong day to start wearing in my boots for my trek!
We followed the footpath from the corner of the carpark at the Grassington visitor centre and made our way downhill to Linton falls, stopping first to spot some aliens in the carpark that were part of the dark skies trail. From here we followed the fingerpost towards Burnsall and the path along the riverbank.
The surrounding trees had suffered from the recent gales and fallen trees were blocking part of the path, but we spotted the promise of spring nestled on the banks of the river with some lovely snowdrops.
The path is wide enough in most places that the kids can go on and run ahead. Our eldest was playing the usual sniper game and hiding behind the rows of trees along the way.
We soon arrived at the suspension bridge at the bottom of the footpath to Hebden. The kids loved that it looked really wobbly and narrow and all was fine crossing it until we met someone coming the other way who was so impatient he tried to barge past us. There was no way I was going in the water but we all made it safely across. There’s always one isn’t there!
I'm a 'thirty something' Yorkshire Mum of two, recovering from two hip arthroscopies and hoping to get fit for a new challenge. My aim is to also get my kids out into the countryside and get fitter as a family. Follow my blog about hips, trips, training and getting my kids outside!
I'm taking part in a charity China trek. For my story or to sponsor me please follow the Just Giving link.