We sent our very own Charity Account Manager Harry out to trek The Great Wall of China with our client Macmillan. Here's what he had to say about the challenge...
The Best Bits...
Satisfying every expectation you have of The Great Wall of China and more!
Every day is genuinely different and just as inspiring and mind-blowing as the previous day. The final day is by far the best, as an early start usually allows you to walk on the wall above mist and clouds - A once in a lifetime opportunity!
Experiencing “classic tourist restored wall” as well as historic unrestored wall!
One day you’ll be walking along the wall with tourists all around you taking all of those iconic photos – sometimes with you in them if they’re Chinese tourists! Other days you’ll be walking on, or alongside, completely unrestored wall and experiencing where the real history lies.
The Great Wall of China stretches for miles and miles over mountains in every direction which I didn’t realise until we reached a set of “Great Wall Crossroads” (as I called them) – it’s not one long wall, its wall everywhere!!!
Food and culture!
Chinese food is by far some of the best on the planet, in my opinion – and this trek allows you to eat all you can! It’s fresh, cooked locally and I haven’t been able to eat a Chinese takeaway since this trek because it simply doesn’t taste anywhere near as good.
On top of this, you get to dine in traditional, local restaurants and absorb all the culture that comes with travelling to China. After a long day of trekking the wall, you’ll appreciate the masses of food, relaxing atmosphere and eating with chopsticks – which is better for your digestion as you eat much more slowly!
The 'worst' bits...
In my opinion, the only part of this challenge that I found hard was starting the final day amongst all the tourists; You’ve spent 5 days walking remote sections of the wall with your local Chinese guides and have really entered into the history of the wall. You’ve seen the wall that’s “off the beaten track” so to finish on a busy, tourist section, for me, wasn’t my favourite part.
However, you must remember that this is a challenge! All the tourists stop after only a few towers because they’ve taken their photos and are ready to jump back on the bus back to Beijing – but we’ve only just started!! It only takes approximately 20 minutes before you leave the crowds behind and begin experiencing restored wall in private. You’re rewarded for each hard climb of steps with panoramic views that you simply wouldn’t get to see unless you did this trek, the photos don’t do it justice! Also, the tourists daren’t walk above the clouds but that’s all part of the fun on the final day for us!
harry's top tips for the trek:
- Make sure you take walking poles! They are unbelievably helpful in reducing strain on the knees when walking down all those steps on the wall – remember whatever you walk up on the wall you must then walk down the other side of the tower!
- Take your time when climbing steps. And walk diagonally! It reduces the incline and strain on the knees and you’ll notice the local guides doing the same – after all their experience walking on the wall it’s sensible to copy them!
- Stop and take in your surroundings. The Great Wall of China is impressive at every angle – but take the time to stop regularly and take in those views and take those photos for your memory books. Also, don’t forget to turn around because as you walk up all those steps the best views are often behind you!
Why I recommend it and who will suit this challenge:
A bucket list challenge does what it says on the tin but this challenge is so much more than you expect it to be. China, The Great Wall, the food, the history, the culture and the people make it a truly wonderful experience.
It’s achievable for all who train for it. Try walking up and down lots of hills! It’s also one of our most sociable challenges – every evening you sit down around big tables to eat Chinese dish after dish after dish. Be assured, you’ll make some friends for life by the end of the challenge!