I have wanted to walk the Great Wall of China for a long time and today, the 7th September, we were going to do it. The day was perfect with blue sky and sunshine. We had decided to go with the hotel tour because although you can get there on public transport there was only 2 days left in Beijing and I didn’t want to miss it. The coach journey took about an hour and a half so we were ready to stretch our legs when we arrived. The Great wall was created after the unification of China under Qin Shi Hangdi over two thousand years ago. It snakes through the countryside for several thousand miles and enabled speedy communications as well as the rapid transport of troops throughout the country. There are 4 main areas to visit the Great Wall from Beijing. Badaling is the most touristy part of the wall followed by Mutianyu which is less commercial. There are also 2 areas that are only partly renovated and apparently a bit of a struggle. We decided to go to Mutianyu in the hope there wouldn’t be too many people there.
With our cable car tickets we got on and rose slowly to the top.
I felt so emotional when I got to the top and saw the Great Wall for the first time I burst into tears. Memories of my childhood walking the Seven sisters near Eastbourne with my Dad and my Uncle Terry as a little girl came flooding back. How Dad would have loved this, maybe he was walking with me. I took this photo from the terrace of the cable car platform. You can see the wall winding ahead with the very steep steps half way along. This is a close up of the Chinese lettering on the hillside.
What a great place to have your wedding photos taken.
The first section was quite crowded but soon started to thin out as we continued. Some people just want to go to the Great Wall, have their selfie taken, and leave. Total madness.
Famed for its Ming-era guard towers, of which there were 10 in the section we walked, the wall is largely a recently restored Ming dynasty structure that was built upon a earlier Qi-dynasty edifice. The watchtowers served as signal towers, forts, living quarters and storerooms for provisions. They were spaced two arrow shots apart to leave no part unprotected (I was lucky to get this shot without any one in it).
The first section wasn’t that difficult with a mixture of level wall and steps but we could see the steep section up ahead.
The wall took advantage of the natural terrain for defensive purposes following the highest point and clinging to ridges. The ramparts enabled the defending soldiers to fire down on their attackers. Although despite its impressive battlements the wall ultimately proved ineffective because it was breached in the 17th century by the mongols and then in the 17th century by the Manchu. Today only certain sections have been fully restored and offer superb panoramic views.
But this wasn’t the top, it went on, although this was as far as a lot of people went. We were the only ones in our group to continue.
It looks like I’m leaning backwards but the walls really were this sloped. It had taken us several hours to get this far but we wanted to continue.
We were now level with the Chinese lettering.
This was why I had come to China
The path was more overgrown this high up.
Would you believe this high up there was a lady selling souvenirs! I asked her if she carried all her goods up every day and she replied yes every day. She deserved a sale for working all that way every day.
We had made it to tower 23 which is as far as you could go on this section. Sadly most of the wall is still unrestored and is crumbling away. We walked along it for a little way but it was difficult and probably dangerous. Up ahead we could see another steep section which if unrestored would be dangerous so we turned round to start our descent.
Coming down was harder than going up. Our legs were tired now.
By the time we got back to the cable car our legs were like jelly but I for one felt elated. At the entrance is a piece of stone with this inscription on it
Once intended to ward off enemy attack today it brings the peoples of the world together. The Great Wall may it continue to act as a symbol of friendship for future generations.