Great Wall,  Beijing, China Week 16 12th - 13th August 2011
The Great Wall of China is not far from Beijing - less than 100 km.

This is our first glimpse of it through the smog.

And a bit more of a teaser.
After we'd driven to the Wall we had lunch.

We'd bought the most expensive baguette we've ever purchased (about A$3) at a "Frengh Bakery" and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Nearly forgot to take a photograph.

There's a walll growing out of the top of the Tardis.

Its part of the Moshiku Great Wall - we haven't figured out how all the bits are named yet.

We walked up the "grand canyon" past a few flowers plus peach and pear orchards.
Haven't a clue what the flowers are but they looked very attractive.
And this was growing among the peaches and pears.

There was a very nice notice in the orchards forbidding picking fruit until after the harvest.

Sounded reasonable to us.

Our path led us eventually to the Wall.

Its been another of life's ambitions to visit the wall.

One of those things fuelled by the picture books given for birthdays and christmases.

I've seen lots of pictures, but nevertheless was totally unprepared.

This is a short length of "wild wall".

The steps are still usable here though the walls have fallen off.

We wuz here. Again.

There's some clue in the background where the wall follows the ridge. Steep on either side.

We are beginning to wonder if the ridges were sufficient to keep the Mongol nomads out without the need for a wall.

This steep bit, near the top each step is about 600 mm vertical and 200 mm horizontally.

A bit hard on the leg muscles.

This bit was relatively easy.

Beyond that last bit it dropped rather precipitously to the valley floor.

That section had collapsed and there was a convenient (if almost as steep) path around it.

The wall was originally just rammed earth.

In Ming times it was rebuilt with stone and brick.

The base is stone with rammed earth and rocks in the middle and stone steps.

On top of that was a wall either side made of kiln fired bricks.

The bricks were held together with mortar made of lime and sticky rice. We've also seen reference to eggs.

There was also drainage, the water flowed from this spout (gargoyle!).

There are watch towers and signal towers.

This is a watch tower. Its as steep on the other side.

A restored watch tower.

There are some interesting descriptions of the wall.

Some bits are described as preserved, some as restored.

This bit is restored.

Apart from it being generally "square" the bricks on either side appear darker. A different era.

The wall has modern uses.

Here it supports some power poles.

It was also a steep bit.

Just beyond the watch tower we met the first of several blue signs.

Basically "Section of Wall Closed".

We'd been told we could walk for at least 10 km. However, we turned back for this one as the path through scratchy undergrowth was not very well defined. 

We are becoming a bit whimpy in our latter years.

We returned to Tardis and drove in search of what seems to be referred to as "wild wall".

No restoration.

We found some in the Jiankou section.

Before you ask .. yes ... we were silly enough to climb down this near vertical bit.

It just sort of disappeared over the edge.
One of those times when "three points of contact" felt essential rather than an intellectual exercise..
The watch towers don't have much space inside.

Mostly bits to hold it all up.

A bit cold in winter!

But we've got ahead of ourselves.

We drove to "a fish farm" and asked directions.

We climbed what seemed like about 1000 m in 2 hours to reach the wall.

Perhaps its the location the wall is in that makes it more than just a wall.

I find it rather amazing that the Mongols even got this high in very difficult country.

This was our first view of our stretch of wild wall.

There were a few Chinese around. They took a bit of pity on "an old couple" and offered all sorts of useful advice - including to Susanna to guide us back if we were in difficulties.

Shortly after setting out we were adopted by the young man standing in this photo.

He's talking to a party of Chinese wall walkers having their lunch on top of a watch tower.

This short stretch was hung on the side of the cliffs.

In the center are a pom and his Chinese guide.

They were a bit stuck and asking for directions.

As we got closer we could understand their dilemma.

Our new companion showed them the way.

He climbed onto the bricks and took a longish stride across the gap.

We followed.

Its not as bad as it looks in the photograph, but we did discuss being a bit nervous.

There were a few bits like this almost vertical drop that made us more nervous.

There were a few detours around the really tough bits.

One that I'd turned back on our companion decided to try.

I had one of those "oh sh*t" moments when I appeared below him. He was spreadeagled on the cliff face, facing outwards, sounding and looking decidedly uncomfortable. This is not one of the recommended climbing techniques. There was a 50m drop below him.

I ditched the camera and pack so as to try and direct him to a slightly more tenable position.

Sometimes the line between success and failure can be quite fine. This time it all worked out well.

This was one of the easier difficult bits.

Almost vertical.

From the top - Pom, Chinese guide, Ali, Susanna.

And it did occur to us that if it is this difficult just walking along the wall imagine what it would have been like building it.

Easy really!

Though we did stop and wonder what we were doing there once or twice.

We'd spent about 2 hours climbing up (in temperature of 30 degrees C) then another 2 hours walking along the wall.

We had a rest before starting down.

The Chinese medicine is helping stop the cough, but its still there and hard to shake.

I guess if I can get this far I can't be too bad! Though I'm certainly feeling it.

This is almost back at the fish farm. Another 2 hours down.

Center top is a watch tower.

We are tired, hot, sweaty, probably dehydrated, and with aching legs.

Just before the fish farm we passed one of those blue "closed" signs. The first we'd seen as we'd left the fish farm by a different route.

We are feeling our age after 6 hours of what may be some of the most strenuous hiking we've ever done.

To put it into perspective, we spent many weekends and longer trips in the bush in New Zealand's South Island (we lived in Invercargill). These mountains are as steep, possibly steeper, than those of Fjordland.

We are due to leave China for Mongolia in just a couple of days. Mostly taken up with driving to the border.

What a fantastic little adventure to complete our China trip.


Drive to Erlian, Inner Mongolia, China Week 17 14th - 16th August 2011

Sharon Mon, 15 Aug 11 13:50:39 +1000
I think the yellow and bronze like coloured daisy like flower might be a Zinnia of some kind.

jon Fri, 19 Aug 11 22:05:03 +1000
spectacular Julian and Ali. I've walk along some of the rebuilt sections outside Beijing, but would have loved to done the above.

Wishing you a safe journey into and out of the Gobe.

Sorry, comments closed.