Dad on the Great Wall of China

That's my Dad on the Great Wall of China. He's just completed a 5 day charity walk of the wall, sleeping in tiny tents in local school playgrounds and climbing gradients of up to 70%. My Dad, in his sixties and the oldest member of the party, has never been what you would call fit. However over the past six months he walked and walked in preparation and is now probably the fittest he's ever been. Well done Dad, I'm proud of what you've achieved! This is what he had to say about the hike:

The walk itself was gruelling, much harder than I expected. Every day the temperature was about 24 degrees C and water consumption was averaging five litres a day per person. There were two groups of twelve people led by two experienced leaders and accompanied by a British doctor, local trackers and translators. We began each day at dawn and after breakfast had warm up exercises and some Tai Chi. The local Chinese would stand and stare, and usually giggle, at our motley group made up of all shapes and sizes. Then we would begin our trekking, carrying rucksacks heavy with litres of water, and take a slow steady pace along the Great Wall.

The terrain was remote and hilly and gradients of 70 degrees were not uncommon. The steps of the wall were not consistent, sometimes very high at other times very low. A large part of the wall was derelict and like rubble, and along other parts we had to make detours across remote countryside. Several trekkers became dehydrated or suffered exhaustion and had to bail out. We covered approximately 75 kilometres in five days and climbed the highest tower, Wanjing Lou (960 metres). The challenge was worth it in many ways, the spectacular views, meeting the local Chinese people and the camaraderie of the fellow trekkers.

The main purpose of the walk was to raise vitally needed funds for the British Red Cross and this was also successfully accomplished. Afterwards, there was time to relax with the sightseeing that included Mao's mausoleum in Tiananmen Square where we lined up with the Chinese visitors. Was it him or was it wax? That appeared to be the question on everyone's mind. On leaving, we encountered rows of stall holders all selling Mao memorabilia, a nice little earner. I was particularly impressed with the Forbidden City which is unique and covers a vast area.

It was a fantastic trip and most rewarding. And I feel fitter for having done it.

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