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.
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.
Hello and Happy New Year! Did you have a fabulous Christmas? We had fun at home, getting outside a few times and managed to sneak in a little mini cruise from Hull to Amsterdam, just spending a few hours there to explore before we were back on the boat home.
We didn’t tell the kids we were going, telling them we were just going for a drive(!) and it was a complete surprise to them! Their faces as we walked onto the ferry and then handed them the guide book was brilliant.
We arrived in Amsterdam and unfortunately it was foggy so we didn’t actually ‘see’ much of it, but we took a canal cruise and did lots of walking around the centre. We discovered Vondel park which was on my list to see, the palace and sampled important things like pancakes, frites with mayonnaise, a very strong blonde beer and some gorgeous bakery delights called Oliebollen. We’d love to go back and explore the museums and surroundings at a more leisurely pace without worrying about getting back for the boat. With it being the holidays it was absolutely heaving and great waves of people filled the streets. We managed to walk 9 km just wandering around, although we needed to keep moving because it was so cold!
Now back to reality! Having said that I’m so excited about this year. My China trek is in May and I’m hopping between giddy excitement and being daunted about organising my fundraising, training and kit. I have quite a few fitness goals to keep me going through the year and towards my trek. I’ve joined My Peak Challenge #MPC2017 which is a yearlong fitness and nutrition programme and is about reaching not only fitness goals but non-physical goals too. I’ve a few of those too including growing my blog! Half the joining fee goes to Bloodwise the UK blood cancer charity, so in helping yourself you help others too. I’m also going to try and join in the #walk1000 miles challenge and walk 1000 miles over the year – everyday walking counts towards this. We’ll see how that goes but we are now a walking family and I’m so proud of how far my little people walked last year. It was mentioned to me recently that I might be cruel ‘making’ my children take part in my training walks, but I don’t make them walk anywhere and we’re not trying to climb massive mountains. The harder walks I’ll keep for myself and we always do a distance they are capable of. Over the last year we’ve got outside into the fresh air, they’ve enjoyed discovering nature, identifying trees and we’ve visited some great new places.
So at the moment the sky’s the limit and as long as I keep my hips healthy there’s nothing stopping me…..I may need a few cheerleaders along the way though!
Have you any challenges this year or some non-physical goals? I’d love to hear what you’re getting up to.
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.