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
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!
With the children staying at their Grandparent’s this weekend we were able to do a much bigger walk up two of Yorkshire’s famous peaks, Whernside and Ingleborough. After our walk last week to Brimham Rocks my back felt sore and with my hip progress being checked by my physio I mentioned it whilst I was there. I’d lifted my Daughter from a gate which it seemed had been a very bad idea and earned me a week off the gym, but walking is still allowed!
I’ve mentioned before that I wanted to do a charity trek and the first part of making that a reality was registering my place on a trek on the Great Wall of China in May 2017. I’ll be raising money for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, a charity close to my heart because I suffered from one myself, and that’s what spurs me on to do this challenge. If I can raise awareness and vital funds for them I will be so pleased, so what’s a few blisters along the way?!
My fitness has really been improving over the year with our walks and a few gym sessions, but with my charity trek being booked I need to do a few bigger walks and it’s not fair to drag my little people along on these. Although I’m massively proud of how far they have been walking.
An early Sunday morning after a few days of rain we set off into the Yorkshire Dales for Ribblehead viaduct where our walk would start!
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.