I’ve hit the target!

WOOHOO! Over £3500 – almost $6000 CDN!

I’ll explain more about that when I get a brief moment.

I’ll also finish the rest of the blog for last week shortly…

Promise. Come back in a day or two.


Day 6 – Jinshanling Loop – Thursday

This morning, we ate breakfast at our government lodge and then walked back up the road and directly back onto the wall.

More later…

Day 5 – Gubeikou Gateway – Wednesday

What a full and incredible day. We left our second lodge and drove for a bit to get to the starting point of our longest walking day.

Along the way, our fantastic local guide Chris (Western name inspired by Coldplay) gave us his usual slightly rambling but always fascinating run down on Chinese life and history. He tells us every day all about Chinese history, his life, his fiancée, his family, and what’s happening in modern China. I came here knowing almost nothing and couldn’t ask for a better way to get an insight into modern China. Fascinating.

We made our way through a little village and waiting for us were a trio of Chinese women (the local farmer’s wives) with backpacks on. This is a regular occurrence apparently. They find out when the groups are coming and follow and offer to carry backpacks and sell touristy things (calendars, fans, fridge magnets, etc) to us at the top. We were all told how to politely decline what they were offering and we got into our big circle and started our now regular morning warm up. Always amusing. I’ve had a signature hip rotation move named after me (thank you LAMDA) and it makes a regular appearance.

It was a bit of upward winding to find the wall and once we got there, we settled into our now familiar walking routine. Chris, our local guide walks up ahead. Usually he’s followed by a first wave of trekkers, quite often the same people. The group then spreads out a bit and finally at the back is Jason (our other local guide). Penny is our fearless leader and she makes her way back and forth, making sure everyone is OK, helping with blisters and tricky parts of the wall as we go. We go up, we go down, we go across and then it starts again. There will be a watchtower every 20 minutes or so and we quite often stop to regroup or catch our breath or have a snack.

And so it went today. The weather today was the best yet, clear blue skies and sunshine with clear views for tens of miles. At every peak you could see just how far this wall extends which truly boggled the mind. The scale of this wall is hard to get into your head, when you see how high it is and how long it is and then you see it extend as far as the eye can see and then you realise that it’s 6,000 km long. A human achievement on a truly epic scale.

At one of the watchtowers, we climbed to the roof and had a snack. Chris took a series of pictures of each of us jumping in the air. With his position and his lens, the pictures looked hilarious, like we were jumping over the wall. We took a few more creative group shots and then made our way back down and onto the wall.

I needed a pee, so I turned back to I find a private spot on the other side of the tower and Penny gave me a bit of a shove and said, “No. We have to go.”

This was weird and out of character for Penny so I wondered what was going on. I joined the others and we made our way down the next stretch. I turned round and saw that Dean and Sarah were standing together on the roof still. They’ve been together for 9 years and then it hit me, he’s proposing!

I whipped out my camera and grabbed a couple of shots from a distance just in case I was right. I was right! A couple of watchtowers later, we stopped for lunch and the two of them showed up with a bottle of champagne and big smiles. Everyone erupted in cheers.

I’m not finished with this blog entry but we’ve just passed some wifi so I’m uploading.






Day 4 – Black Dragon Pools – Tuesday

A bit of a lie in allowed this morning – although I was up early anyway.

What a varied and fantastic day we had. Not far from the lodge is the Dragon Pools National Park. A popular destination for tourists and Chinese, it’s a beautiful and well taken care of park with a gorge and lots of rocks and waterfalls. You follow a long path with many stairs and it eventually leads you up the gorge to a beautiful scenic spot with a temple.

I thought that was going to be largely it for this ‘fairly easy’ day but no. Beyond the temple, through a gate where tourists are not allowed is where it gets interesting. We scrambled up the rest of the hill and got to the very top and then made our way around a winding road to the other side, where we stopped for lunch.

We then saw a Great Wall watchtower up a steep incline, so we scrambled up that and made our way to the top of the watchtower and saw some truly spectacular views of the entire valley. I really didn’t know much about China, and beautiful isn’t an adjective that would have sprung to mind before coming here, but it is now. The sun was out, everyone was in a great mood and we had this spectacular view of the Wall and the valley and the river and gorge and it was a great moment.

Getting back down to the start point if our journey took a while and was a little touch and go. The descent was very steep and overgrown and with some of the less steady trekkers in front, we had to take a steady pace. To be fair, there was a high risk of slipping and tumbling off the wall and into some thick brush.

After some real adventure and a bit of drama, we got to the bottom and found our coach and driver (Mr. Joe). We did our stretches and got on the bus and made our way home.

Dinner was fantastic once again, BBQ skewers of meat, rice, noodles, chicken, veggies, salad, and chips! They don’t do desert in China. 🙁

Early to bed as tomorrow is our longest day.

Internet here is slow and not easy to find so my photo gallery isn’t uploading. I’ll put a couple of pictures below instead.





Day 3 – Dayingpan area – Monday

Day 3 – Dayingpan area – Monday

Woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep thanks to jetlag.

Today’s trekking was very different. The organisers have added an extra day for our trip as a way of experimenting with a new part of the wall.

It was quite remote, in a area North West of Beijing. We were up in the hills and the bus could only take us within 4km of the start of the wall. We hiked up a long road and made our way through a tiny and very old village. Everything was as it would have been a hundred years ago (rustic) but the process of modernisation had started and the local council were making efforts to make the area suitable for wall tourists The concrete was still very fresh.

A group in the past had attempted this day but there was a rather perilous section near the end that was too dangerous and Charity Challenge had decided not to return here until that stretch of the wall had been repaired. They had been told by the government that it had been fixed and was ready and so we came.

It was very windy and exposed and so we were all quite chilly with everyone putting on their layers and windproofs. A few people were quite anxious at how exposed we were, being on top of a rather high wall with long drops on either side, crumbling rock underneath and strong gusts of wind. I thought it was fun!

We reached the bit where the wall dips sharply into a deep valley and it became obvious that nothing had been repaired. It was just as dangerous as before and so Penny our guide had to pull the plug. Many were relieved, but I think a handful of us were a bit disappointed to not be doing a bit of sliding and scrambling.

So we made our way back and went up another section of wall instead and then walked back, the way we came through the little old village, just as the sun came out.

Just about everyone slept for the 2 hour coach ride to our next destination and the next lodge, somewhere North East of Beijing.

This lodge is not government run and so is ‘a lot more fun’. The meal was excellent (all of the food has been good) and afterwards they lit a fire in their courtyard and opened the bar and played thumping house music. Hilarity ensued till about 10pm and then everyone crashed.

I’ve got a new roommate at this lodge. Jeff is from Edinburgh (and is the chairman of the Water Aid charity in Scotland) and has come on this challenge with his two daughters. They’ve all been raising money for Breast Cancer.

Everyone here has a story and an inspiration, some don’t talk about them much and others wear t-shirts with tributes to their family members that inspired them to come. It’s all very moving.

Updated photos are here.

We’re staying here at the moment.



Day 2 – Great Wall near Juyongguan – Badaling – Sunday

Day 2 – Great Wall near Juyongguan – Badaling – Sunday

And off we go. This is where we’re sleeping for the next two nights.

So, turns out there’s no dairy industry in China. No milk, no butter, no cheese, nada.

Breakfast was interesting, egg fried rice and noodles with hard boiled egg and some meat. At least we’ll get our protein.

It was a fairly short day of trekking but one of the steeper ones. The scenery was spectacular and I have put together a bunch of photos from today.

We all did quite well for our first full day on the wall. We were rewarded with an enormous and delicious lunch at a local restaurant at the end. Here’s where we were climbing.

I for one am knackered and I’m going to bed early as we have a long day on the wall tomorrow.



First steps – Saturday

First steps – Saturday

I’ve met the other 25 in the group, and it’s a really good group. People from all over, all ages and shapes and abilities. There’s going to be lots of good chats along the way.

We drove for about an hour and a half out of Beijing and our local guide gave us all sorts of fascinating information. We are staying two nights here and have had a quick jaunt up part of the wall to get a sense of what it will be like over the next eight days? It’s not going to be easy, but it will be scenic and rewarding.

Soon it’s dinner time and then a long sleep for all of us.