Spirits were high when we arrived back at our lodge for the night. The staff’s friendliness and attentiveness added to the enjoyment of the day, and beers were soon opened.

We had two birthday girls on the trek, and a huge cake was produced during our buffet meal (which was a western-style BBQ, with a Chinese twist!) for Ann-Marie and Ann. Candles were extinguished and wishes were made. Then it was out into the courtyard for beers, a bonfire and chat long into the night.  Read the rest of this entry »


From the Itinerary:

After breakfast we transfer to start the trekking on Gubeikou. Gubeikou has long been a town of military significance and an important passage to the capital city. The Yanshan Range winds from east to west and is cut off at Gubeikou forming a natural narrow pass here.

From ancient times, Gubeikou has served as a route of strategic importance, linking the southern and northern areas of the Yanshan Range.

Today’s trek passes through remote rural farmland, and many crumbling watch towers. We transfer back to our rustic Lodge for dinner.

large landscape photo of the great wall of china

Click for full size.

The image of the Great Wall of China snaking its way over jagged mountain peaks, softened only by autumnal trees, is iconic. This was to be world into which the fundraisers would venture for two days. A world mostly free of tourists simply for the fact that the trekking would be on unrestored, “wild” wall. Read the rest of this entry »

Once upon a time there were two dragons. The dragons were brothers. One was white, the other was black.

As they grew older they decided that their home was too small for them, so they went their separate ways. The black dragon worked hard to make his new home beautiful, a place of lushness with trees, springs, waterfalls and pools, a place that would bring life and goodness to the people who lived there.

The mountain god saw his hard work and gifted him a string of 18 pearls which he threw into the valley that the black dragon was working hard to make into a place of beauty. Read the rest of this entry »


Today the trek moved firmly onto the restored Wall in Mutianyu.

The Chinese government has spent time and cash restoring many parts of the Great Wall, turning them into incredibly busy tourist spots. We were told that the part of the wall we were tackling today was favoured by Hollywood celebrities.

We didn’t see any.

What we did see were thousands of Chinese tourists, young and old.

En route to the day’s trek, one of our guides, Michael, explained the Chinese policy of “birth control”, the idea being that since the 70s Chinese couples are only allowed one birth. He explained that while this idea was to control population, the country has gone from 700 thousand inhabitants to over 1 billion in 35 or so years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Warming Up and Setting Off

Our journey towards our first day of trekking started on the coach as we ventured out into traffic so heavy that it was featured on CNN News. What should have been a journey lasting 30 minutes at most, dragged to well over 90 minutes.

That’s what happens when a country with over a billion inhabitants starts a national holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

A little bit of History

“After breakfast we transfer to the Juyongguan section of the Wall. Juyong was constructed in the 5th century and rebuilt a thousand or so years later by the Ming Dynasty. It is considered to be one of the most strategically important parts of the wall because of its link with Beijing. After lunch, we make our way to the un-restored part of Badaling Great Wall for our afternoon trek.

These two sections today are a tough warm-up for our first day on the wall as it is steep in places. From the high points of the Wall the views of misty mountains fade far into the distance. Once finished we transfer back to our hotel for our second night.”

Why do you trek…

People have different reasons for venturing on international fundraising trips for St Andrew’s Hospice. For Liz she decided she didn’t want the “usual rubbish” for her birthday. Instead she asked family and friends to donate to her Just Giving fund so that she could raise funds for the hospice and trek the Great Wall? Her birthday? A very youthful 70.

Looking back on that decision, she’s very grateful for the moral, as well as monetary, support she received from family and friends. “They just told me to go for it,” Liz recalls.

Why is Just Giving so helpful?

Liz noted that her son, daughter-in-law and grand kids could easily take part in sending her this birthday trip of a lifetime. You can still get involved by donating to this trek’s Just Giving page.  Click here;

Read the rest of this entry »

Arriving in Beijing, we were struck by the heat and the sunshine. A shock to our Scottish systems…

After a painless flight, an easy stroll through immigration, it was on to collect our bags before liaising with the first of our guides, the ever smiling Harry.

En route to our hotel, the grandly named “Auspicious Business Hotel”, Harry explained that we’re entering into an extended holiday period here in China. From 1st October it’s Mid-Autumn Festival where everyone takes 7 days off work. And everyone tries to either get home to see their parents. If they can’t get home, they call home. Family is very important to the Chinese.

And for most of us, that was on the agenda too, a fact witnessed later that afternoon, evidenced by the clusters of pasty Scots huddled in groups in the hotel foyer, calling home.

Harry related a Chinese joke.

How do you get an elephant into an ice box?

Three steps.

1. Open the icebox
2. Put the elephant in
3. Close the icebox

He said this reflects the Chinese mentality of getting the job done, not focusing on the problems.

And when you think of the engineering feet that is the Great Wall of china, it’s hard to argue with this sensibility.

For most of us, as we wound our way through the busy streets north of Beijing, it’s a mind set we’ll be adopting as our own as we face the physical, mental and emotional challenges of trekking the Great Wall as fund raisers for St Andrew’s Hospice.