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Day 5 - Our Longest Day Trekking

Posing for photo on the Wall 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. 

Group photo Day 5

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. 




View along Wall Day 5

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. 

Group photo Day5 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.

Walking along the Wall Day5 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....

Day 4 - Ascent to Three Counties Tablet

Morning Warm up There was another early rise as breakfast was served at 730am. Much to my embarrassment I nearly missed out as I'd left my alarm in  weekday mode.

After a swift breakfast we gathered outside the hotel to deposit our bags and complete a warm up for the day ahead much to the amusement of the local residents. Today we were to trek 10K in the morning on a circular route. 

Our trek started from the door step of the hotel and we gradually climbed in to a very steep ascent up to the 'Three Counties Tablet' which marks the meeting of Heibei province, Tianjin City & Beijing. The reward for the climb was spectacular panoramic views. 

Following a brief stop for photos we made our way along an unrestored part of the wall. Due to its deterioration we actually walked along side, rather than on the wall. We then decended back in to the valley and returned to our hotel for lunch. 

Day 4 View Following lunch we had a 3K stroll down to the coach which would take us on a 2 hour journey through stunning mountainous roads to our next hotel in Watertown. This was to be a stark contrast to our previous two hotels and felt almost luxurious in contrast.

Watertown is a newly built replica of a southern Chinese water town using the model of Venice as it's influence. It is hugely popular with Chinese tourists who flock here in their thousands.

On our way to the complex our guide Ki pointed out 4 pillars near the entrance. I thought he'd described them as itching posts and humorously scratched my back against a post. The joke was on me though as it turned out they were hitching posts for horses.  

Day 4 View To enter the complex a ticket must be purchased and another security protocol followed. Our passports were required and then a photograph taken of our eyes to enable us to be identified for entrance at anytime to the complex. Much to the amusement of the team, it took multiple attempts to get my photograph as I was too tall for the machine and ended up crouching down (kneeling may have been easier in the first instance). 

We quickly returned to our hotel to freshen up before being taken to our latest restaurant for tea. After an excellent feed we returned to Watertown and explored. What a beautiful complex it was, with lots of traditional themed buildings and monuments. We watched a short traditional play in the theatre square before setting off in search of a bar for refreshments. Our search was in vein. We only found one that wanted to charge us 55 dollars for a small bottle of German beer and that wasn't happening. We trooped back to the hotel with our tails between our legs. 

Upon arrival at the hotel we decided to see if it sold any beer. After 10 minutes of dialogue/translation several cans of beer appeared and cost a measly 10 yuan each (approx £1). With smiles on our faces we discussed the day ahead before retiring to our rooms.  

We get a lie in tomorrow with breakfast served from 8am before we set out on our longest trek of the challenge, 17km from Guebikou to Jinshanling. 

Day 4 Night Time Day 4 Night Time

China Day 3 - Evening Sing Song

Following another fantastic meal, our hosts set up an outdoor fire and the team gathered for a couple of beers to chat about another fantastic days trekking. 

After a rendition of 12 Days of Christmas and a couple of other camp fire songs, some of the team converged on a group of locals blasting out some karaoke. Thankfully diplomatic relations weren't damaged as Sue blasted out Adele's 'Dancing in the Deep'!! This was swiftly followed by our team doctor Isla stoking the fire and nearly setting fire to the hotel owner in the process, much to our amusement. 

Now to bed.....!


Day 3 - Stairway to Heaven

Great Wall of China View Day 3 After our early night, the team rose revitalised and full of energy. Many had slept with extra layers on as the temperature plummets at night to almost freezing point. 

Our first check in was breakfast at 7.30am where we gathered to feed up before our long day ahead. The day ahead would take us from Huangyaguan to Qiankaijain Village some 15km away. 

After depositing bags with our driver we all gathered at our starting point for the day for a quick warm up and team photo. The sun was shining brightly, but the stiff breeze kept us fresh.

As we set off we were greeted by a steep climb through watch towers up to the notorious 'Heaven's Ladder', a steep, narrow climb of over 300 steps. Once at the top, the views were spectacular from the 'Imortals Viewing Point'. The climbing didn't finish here as we continued ahead to the summit of today's walk. Once at the summit, we crossed a narrow part of the wall with seriously steep slopes either side of us. We approached with caution and everyone successfully navigated their way across, before we decended through the forest to a picnic spot for the day.

Lunch included a healthy wrap with salad, egg and meat, followed by one of the biggest apples I've ever eaten. Once everyone was fed and watered, the team were given the option of a more challenging path around the summit of the valley or a more sedate and direct walk to our next hotel. Nearly all the group chose the more challenging option and we set off in our own directions. As we meandered along and down the valley we were able to take in more stunning views on a part of the wall that hadn't been restored. A tricky decent followed before we followed the road back to our hotel. 

The scenery had been beautiful and the bond between Team Rosemere grows every day. 

After a quick beer, it was time for a shower. Today, hot water is plentiful and unlimited, so a warm relaxing shower was enjoyed by everyone. Now it's time for tea and to put our feet up before tomorrows adventure commences!!

Day 2- Arrival and our first steps on the Wall

Great Wall of China Image Day2 After 14+ hours of travelling we finally landed at Beijing Airport at 9am local time, 2am GMT. 

We met our Chinese support team of Ki our guide and John our driver who whisked us away on the 2 hour transfer to the start point of our walk at Huangyaguan. This section of the wall was originally built in 557AD and is known to be particularly stunning due to the beautifully refurbished water towers.

After checking in to our hotel, an old army barracks, we enjoyed lunch, before gathering for our walk brief and short history lesson on the walk by our guide Simon from Skyline. 

Nearly everyone in the group was struggling due to lack of sleep, having been up at this point for well over 24hrs. Excitement soon took over as we knew we'd soon be setting foot on the wall for the first time!! Following a short coach journey we stepped on to the wall and walked 5km back to base camp taking in countless steep ascents and descents. 

Simon our guide was hugely impressed by the group's walking ability and team spirit as we completed our first leg of the walk. The training is already paying off, well done Team Rosemere!!

Great Wall of China Image Day 2 Following a swift celebratory beer we all descended on our rooms for our first hot shower. With hot water only being available between 6-7pm, everyone was swiftly ready for our first evening meal. 

With everyone now being up for well over 30hrs an early night was called for with everyone in bed for 9pm. 

Tomorrow brings the joy of climbing 'Heaven's Ladder a trekking over 15km.... Well done everyone, keep up the good work..... 

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