The journey from Beijing to the Great Wall of China was almost as much of an adventure as the hike itself. The first challenge was buying a bus ticket (bus 980 to Miyun). I was told I could get a ticket on the bus, but the first driver appeared to be waving me away. The second drivers wave was a tiny bit more helpful and I noticed a plastic box next to the door where to put my money. We then headed off from Beijing West station to Miyun. On arrival the sun was setting and a swarm of taxi drivers jostled to get my fare. From here, twisting roads flew by as the driver took us at break neck speed to Gubeikou. Here I found the delightful and colorful B&B, The Great Wall Box House. After a day of experiencing less than helpful people, the owners were wonderful. Even helping me with detailed instructions for getting to the trailhead in the morning.
The trail was extremely overgrown and required crossing a frighteningly under repaired bridge (or maybe aqueduct) before reaching the wall itself some 40 minutes into the walk. This is the ‘real’ wall, with no repairs (at least not for a very very long time). No other walkers and barely another soul in sight. An hour later the first tower is reached. Each tower offers beautiful views across the countryside and along the earthy ramshackle wall. There are a few detours off and around some potentially unsafe parts and eventually a larger detour away from a military area. The detour provides a different perspective, the wall is in sight most of the time and looking up, it is easy to image the daunting task faced by yeasteryear armies considering any attack. Then, back on the wall and toward Jinshanling. At and around Jingshanling, the wall has been renovated to it’s former glory and repair. This gives yet another perspective, as the wall looks like the tourist pictures seen by so many.
From here, it used to be possible to carry on to Simatai, however, the path was blocked by security guards. I have heard of people who have bypassed the guards and carried on. This is not recommended. A new town has been built nearby – Gubei Watertown. Clearly there are cultural differences in the way populations view and value history and hereditary. To my English eyes, the town is not particularly in keeping with anything in particular and as a lover of natural beauty and history, I tend to avoid these tourist traps. But, each to their own.
The map below has been reconstructed from the meta-data in my pictures
Planned Map data