Greener BeeGreen HolidaysChina: Walking tall on the Great Wall

Starting on the crest of a hill, it can be reached by cable car but I wanted to walk and experience it in the way the soldiers and emperors had done in ancient times.

About 10 minutes in, though, I was cursing myself for not being as fit as an ancient Chinese soldier; it’s a steady, uphill hike and I’m puffing and panting behind my sprightly guide Ray.

But once we get on the wall itself, my breath is taken away for a different reason: it’s magnificent.

Having bypassed the crowds of the more popular Badaling section, we almost have it to ourselves.

As it is October, the surrounding hills are carpeted by trees boasting dark green, fiery-red, burnt orange and bright yellow leaves.

All that was missing was a brilliant blue sky rather than our dull, hazy grey one – a by-product of the nearby industrial cities, their factories pumping out smoke which heads towards Beijing.

Some days it can be so concentrated that face masks are a must but we are lucky today.

The air feels relatively fresh and the occasional bird song is all that breaks the peaceful silence. As you’d expect, much of the wall has crumbled and deteriorated due to its age.

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