Today we were gifted a lay in, with breakfast at 8am. This consisted of a mix of rather bland dumplings, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and a mixture of Chinese condiments to accompany the dumplings. One of which was a strange pickle mix with chilli's.
After fueling for the day ahead we met in the hotel foyer at 8.45 am in preparation for our longest day of trekking whilst in China. We were taken by our driver John to the start at Guebikou a short 20 minute drive away. Once off the coach we collected our water supply for the day and a packed lunch each.
After a short warm up we set off up towards the wall. Having walked a short distance we spotted a children's play area and following a challenge by the team, I took on several of the obstacle course type apparatus includes a rope swing stepping frame and an army ropes style climbing frame.
We then continued along a wooden framed walk way before starting our first steep ascent of the day up towards the wall. Simon our guide keeps a perfect pace, so you feel less exerted once you reach the summits. It also gives you time to take in the amazing surroundings and keeps the team together in a group.
We met the wall, an unrestored part, and made our way towards a military base passing through many watch towers. At times the walk can be very challenging with steep slopes either side of us, along with lots of steep climbs and descents.
We arrived in one tower to be met by Beatles music and a group of young hippy type locals who looked like they planned to camp the night. As we proceeded to the military boundary we could see two soilders guarding their side of the wall. We decended away from the wall but received a warm greeting from the soilders who welcomed us to China.
We made our way down the valley where we passed an abandoned farm house, which John our group property developer considered buying, a bargain at 600 yuan (don't tell his wife). We also passed several abandoned wells before being met by a local and her son selling gifts, drinks and snacks. After a brief break we continued up another valley before decending to a local farm where we stopped for lunch.
Today wasn't as sunny as previous days, with a haze in the distance, making it harder to take good quality photos. After lunch we climbed back up the valley meeting the wall on the other side of the military zone. It was still in quite a dilapidated state, but as the sun tried to shine, the opportunity for better photos arose.
In one watch tower, we were able to climb to it's roof via a steep stairwell. The views were spectacular, but the climb down even more spectacular as you had to decend backwards through a small stairwell which had half of one step missing and another step completely missing. David and myself wedged ourselves in the stairwell to help members of the team climb down safely.
As we continued along the wall we met a newly restored section and in the distance you could see a cable car taking visitors up to the summit of the wall. We continued until we arrived at the Jinshanling exit where we received a short lesson on the history of this part of the walk from our guide Ki.
At the base of the wall was a beautifully carved chronological history of the walk from its conception to present day. We then continued down to meet a variety of touristy type shops, stopping briefly to get supplies.
We followed the road to a car park where we expected to meet our coach. No coach was to be seen and after several transmissons on the radio, it was established our coach was a further 500m down the road. Our guide Ki's perception of distance was questionable as we walked 1.5km to meet our bus in the free car park at the bottom of the road much to everyone's amusement.
Tea had been scheduled for 6pm, but by this point it was already 5.30pm. We then got stuck in traffic at one of the many police security barriers, delaying our return.
After a quick freshen up, we shot off for our evening meal, another delicious variety of traditional Chinese dishes. As the team were famished more food was ordered and not a morsal was left at our table.
We returned to the hotel to have a game of 'Guess Who, What or Where'. Great fun was had by everyone as my team of myself, Gerry, Dot, John & David were victorious by a point. With friendly rivalries made, we look forward to our Chinese quiz hosted by our guide Simon tomorrow evening.
After our longest day yet, 17K + the additional 1.5K to the bus, we returned to our rooms where I was greeted to Everton V Crystal Palace on Chinese TV!
Tomorrow is shorter in distance but mightier in climbs....