Great Wall of China – trekking the wall
A few years ago I signed up for a charity trek with Discover Adventure to trek the Great Wall of China. With Charity treks, there are different ways to pay and I know this can cause some debate. I paid the full amount for the trip myself so any funds I raised for charity went straight to charity.
The trip lasted for 10 days and of these days we spent 6 days trekking. We flew in from London Gatwick and arrived in Beijing for orientation and our first night in the hotel.
Our first-day trekking started after driving from Beijing to a small village in the Yanshan Mountains. Here I saw the wall for the first time. My first step on the wall was actually what I had expected, restored brick and proper steps. The wall here had been renovated and I could see it snaking for miles through the hillside. It was steeper than I realised and some of the steps were quite high (especially for my little legs!) After a few hours walking we arrived at Huangyaguan. We stayed in a mountain hotel where rooms are off a small courtyard.
The next day we started where we had left off and faced a very steep climb. We climbed what was called ‘heavens ladder’, over 200 steps up a cliff face. During the day we left the wall for a time and trekked through the forest and hillside. The views were amazing! From so high up the scenery was indescribable. Coming back down the mountain we made our way to the mountain village where we were staying for the night. We sat around a campfire and enjoyed some well-deserved beers following our 7 hours trekking!
Keeping on the trail
In the morning we had egg pancakes and cornbread for breakfast. The welcome and hospitality from the local village were overwhelming. We were well rested, well fed and ready for another day of trekking. Today we trekked along next to the wall, with great views at the highest point before walking back through hillside and farmers fields. After 5 hours trekking, we had a coach ride to Jinshanling. We drove through the mountains for about 3 hours before settling at our mountain village hotel.
Today we trekked for around 7 hours. We avoided a military checkpoint and watched the soldiers patrolling the wall. After trekking on a dirt road we returned to the wall proper. Climbing many restored steps we enjoyed amazing views yet again! Our mountain hotel lay beyond a small village. We browsed the local market shops before another well-deserved rest.
Our 5th-day trekking took us from Jinshanling towards Simatei. Today we mostly walked along restored parts of the wall for around 7 hours. Again the views are breathtaking, the mountains and the wall can be seen in all directions. A difficult day with lots of steps but worth it! At the end of our day’s trek, we took the zip-wire across the river which was amazing if a little scary. We were then transported to our mountain hotel ready for our last day’s trek.
The last day of the trek
Our last day of trekking brings us to the popular part of the wall at Mutianyu. Here there are more tourists taking day trips from Beijing and its a lot busier than we had seen. We took our last steps on the wall as a group counting down and reflecting on our journey. After finishing our walk along the last sections we enjoyed a toboggan ride to bring us to the bottom. So much fun! We celebrated later on after our drive back to Beijing.
This is a brief overview of our 6 full days trekking along the wall. Along the way, we met some amazing people and experienced the ways of village life. It was tough but such an achievement!!