For the first time on the trip, we stayed in the same hotel once again in Watertown. At breakfast we were greeted by the rather bland dumplings again, so many of the team decided to eat their own supplies of flap jack, biscuits and chocolate in preparation for the day ahead and boy were they needed.
We met in the foyer once again at 8.45 am and quickly transferred on to the coach with all our kit, one by one. Off we set for our latest meeting with the Great Wall. Little did we know what lay ahead.
It wasn't long before we arrived at out starting point for our usual warm up, this time taken by our Doctor, Isla. Fun was had by everyone as we loosened up and stretched out.
Simon our guide gathered us and led from the front up a long, winding and steep foot path to the wall above us. His pace once again was excellent, enabling everyone to stay as a group without becoming breathless or overly warm. There were a couple of brief pauses to remove layers of clothing as our body temperatures rose, before we reached out initial summit, one of the many watch towers we could see in the distance yesterday.
Today's route can be seen for miles around as it runs up and down the spine of the mountain. We turned right and followed a refurbished part of the wall and this is where the real challenge began.
We began with an initial decline, before quickly climbing steeply. This pattern continued for some time, being greeted by staircases of steps that seemed to reach in to the sky. What goes up, must come down and the downs were even more dramatic than the ups. It was certainly not a day for the faint hearted, with huge drops on either side of us at various points. At times it felt like we were climbing a mountain face and then sliding back down the other side.
Along this section we arrived at East Five Eye Tower, the highest watchtower on the Great Wall at 618 metres above sea level. It certainly wasn't a place for anyone with vertigo.
Initially the smog and haze had reduced visibility and made photography difficult, but as the morning wore on, visibility improved and the sun shone.
A couple of watch towers before we moved away from the wall enabled some of our trekkers to take in the scenery and return to the foot of the mountain via a cable car with spectacular views. The rest of the troops marched on before we finally made it to our final watch tower to connect with one of the many link paths back to the bottom of the valley. At this point we were met by a large group of school children on an educational trip. They were so pleasant, polite and friendly to all of us. On the path down, there weren't as many steps as on the wall and they were much more even, but it was still some distance to our rendezvous point at the bottom.
Today was one of our shorter treks at just less than 10K, but it was certainly our hardest and most spectacular. The team showed great determination and spirit today and have worked extremely hard for every penny of sponsorship they have raised. If you haven't already sponsored us, get on one of our Just Giving pages and do so. This team is amazing and doing Rosemere proud!!
At the foot of the mountain we were short on time, so our guide Simon arranged for some shuttle type golf buggies to run us to our lunch stop for the day. They didn't mess about and had us racing to the bottom.
Everyone had certainly built up their appetite with rumbling tummies all around as we arrived for lunch at 2pm. It turned out to be our best feed to date, with some amazing dishes. Particularly popular were the salt and pepper chips and the spicy chicken noodles. Not a morsal of food was left as we decended on our coach for the 2hr + journey to our next location, Mutianyu. Tonight we stay in accommodation purposely built for those that built the Olympic park for the amazing Beijing Olympics in 2008.
During the journey, we had a whip around for our local guide and driver who have been fantastic and made this trip do special. They will be presented with their well earned tip during our celebration evening tomorrow night.
We arrived at 5pm and shot off to our various rooms. Everyone is paired up, but as we have an odd number, I'm the lucky one with my own room. With tea at 7pm, a quick unpacking of items required for this evening was followed by a shower to freshen up.
Part 2 to follow after our evening meal and quiz.........