We were taken to a part of the Great Wall approximately 35 kms to the north from Beijing. The Juyongguan Great Wall was the first of three passes that previously had proved impenetrable. Our tour company sold it as the best part of the wall because not many tourists went to it and therefore you didn’t have to wait in queues to climb.
I had then read up on this part of the wall and discovered not many tourists visit because of the difficulty in climbing the stairs and in order to get to the best views you had to clim to at least the 7th station. I can do it I thought. As we travelled in the bus I kept an eye out for the wall and wondered if the above photo was part of it. I still don’t know.
It was quite clear however when we did see it and looking out to the right I thought I can climb that easily. The right however was not accessible to us and we turned into a parking area on the left and saw the steepness of the incline. I still was determined to climb it.
Views of the path upwards. The castle like areas are the stations and I was determined to get to number 7.
We were told that an easier way to the second station was via a bushwalk and as it was easier I decided to take it. Roger had taken one look at the stairs and said he was happy with the view he could get from the entry level. I took off alone and the track was hit and miss. Obviously few people used it and I was uncomfortable so I returned to the conventional stairs upwards.
The rise on the stairs was high the step was narrow making it difficult unless you did a kind of crawl. The hand rails were of little use for me because I had to bend almost double to reach them they were so low to the ground.
People sat unable to move further – I made it to the second station and decided that I couldn’t afford to take a tumble and if up was so difficult I could only imagine that down would be worse with legs turning to jelly and doing the involuntary shake as used to happen when I climbed the giant staircase at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.
I could see how spectacular it would be from higher up where you got a 360 degree view but I was happy with what I could see. It was obvious the strategic military advantage that was afforded situated in a lower area (valley ridge?) surrounded by two huge mountains.
This section was built 770 – 476 BC and again later in 476- 221 BC as fortification. It was linked to the Great Wall of China 386 – 589 AC.
It was further strengthened during the Ming dynasty to protect from Mongol invasion. Looking to the east you can see the gentler slope of the wall.
We could not cross over the river however, you could buy a ticket that let you do both sides and you could do a full loop starting on the east side – a gentler climb and descending on the west. We did not have the time to do that.
We departed the Great Wall glad that we had seen a structure of such immense proportions it can be seen from outer space, overawed at the structural feat this must have been for such a long time ago but perhaps a little disappointed that I was unable to climb as far as I needed to get that 360 degree view. Still, it was a great adventure.
Next we were off to Beijing Zoo.