Spectacular Jinshanling

14 Oct

Great Wall lunch viewIt was freezing overnight literally and my room heater wasn’t working so I went to bed with thick PJs, socks, two jumpers and a hat. In fact, it was the best night’s sleep I’ve had since leaving the UK but waking at 6.15 was still horrid and bitterly cold. Apparently it had reached zero degrees overnight and there was frost on the ground.

Breakfast – the normal – cold fried eggs on sweet, slightly toasted bread was welcome though. We left around 8am in the bus to take us to the start of our trek.

Thankfully for my sore calf muscles that needed a good warm up, there was some level walking to begin with but it was short lived. We quickly made a steep ascent to the Great Wall and were instantly impressed with the views. The Wall at Jinshanling is impressive, weaving its way up and down across steep mountain tops. Why it was ever needed to stop an invasion is a mystery as the mountains themselves are pretty formidable and stretch out as far as the eye can see in every direction here. Truly spectacular.

Deborah morning selfieIn this section of the Wall there are regular watch towers.  Although it is not fully reconstructed, it is still very beautiful. We were aiming to reach the 24-window tower by lunchtime so around four hours of walking lay ahead. It didn’t take long before we were all quickly stripping off layers of clothes as the sun rose in the sky and it became very warm. It’s definitely been the warmest day so far with glorious sunshine.

We played tag with another group of trekkers for most of the day, as we kept crossing each other but on the whole it’s a pretty quiet route. It was a long morning trek full of ups and downs but around 1.30pm we reached the tower and we were all ready for our packed lunch!

The views from the 24 window tower were awesome again and many of the group took the opportunity to put on their charity t-shirts for photos, with many wonderful charities represented. As a long-term charity worker, it’s a delight to me to see people taking action and supporting the voluntary sector. After all it’s absolutely what we rely on to survive.

Deborah and BethBizarrely, my room-mate, Beth (pictured, right) is raising funds for the Bowel Disease Research Foundation which is a lovely coincidence as Bowel Cancer UK is currently running a joint project with them. I’m delighted we are trekking together and I have now met 5 people in the group who have lost someone to bowel cancer. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it is so common. If only we could really raise awareness and help people realise how common it is and the importance of early diagnosis.

After lunch we had to leave the Wall as it was blocked due to an army base and instead headed down through a village.  We passed fields where women were working and it reminded me of something Alan (our Chinese guide) said this morning,  “China is rich but the people are poor.”  The lack of helpful machinery certainly seemed an indication of that.

After a welcome stop for an ice cream in the one cafe in the village (aimed at trekkers) and we were climbing very sharply again to reach the Wall. By now it was late afternoon and the gentle light gave a warm glow across the Mountains. As we continued, we passed countless Chinese photographers waiting to take pictures of the Wall at sunset but taking the opportunity to take a sneaky snap of tired dusty trekkers as we passed by!

About 8 hours after starting our day we descended the Wall and walked back to our hotel via a local cafe. We were all in heaven with the proper coffee and cake!  Simple pleasures and all that.

It’s been a good day, very challenging at times given the steep climbs and length of the trek and there were definitely times this afternoon that I felt truly tired.  However the joy of watching the sunset on the Great Wall of China made up for it all and spurred me on. Hurrah, day 4 – conquered!

Here’s hoping it’s a bit warmer in our room tonight!

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One Response to “Spectacular Jinshanling”

  1. Helen Johnson October 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Sounds amazing…..but don’t envy the cold nights brrr….keep going we are all thinking about you & urging you on! Take care 😊 xxxx

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