Wild Wall

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When I first started planning my China trip I knew I wanted to be on a more remote part of the Great Wall at dawn.   There was 'talk' on the Internet of sleeping in a watchtower but it was difficult to arrange especially at that time of the year.  I read William Lindesay's book "Alone On The Great Wall" and then found his website.   Serendipitously he was offering accommodation at his family farmhouse at the foot of a wild section of the Wall near Huairou Xiangshuihu a scenic area a couple of hours north east of Beijing.  He promised me I would  be up there to see the sun rise and he delivered.  I couldn't have been happier

Jimmy Lindesay chooses a kite on our way out of Beijing                 

Approaching the Lindesay compound

Their comfortable farm house sits in an idyllic setting surrounded by hills and everyone is topped by a watchtower.  Will and Qui are wonderful hosts.  It is a real privilege to be on the Great Wall of China with someone so knowledgeable about it's history and concerned for it's preservation

          Taking afternoon tea in the garden


The Much Anticipated Dawn of The Great Wall of China



As promised, we were up on the Great Wall for dawn.  This involved a 3.30am wake up call and a light breakfast but it was well worth all the effort

Will's idea of a short walk from the farmhouse is a little different from mine and it was quite a strenuous climb for Barbara and I but we made it in good time with moonlight supplementing the light from our torches. 

Turning our backs on the rising sun we saw the first light of day illuminating the Wall as far as the eye could see


This section of un-restored wall is in pretty dire straits, Trees, flowering bushes and shrubs grow along the top.  The ground underfoot is uneven and in parts slippery.  There are no handrails, no souvenir sellers no Mongol hoards leaping out for photo op's.  It's peaceful and majestic and worth every minute of the arduous ascent.  Upon our return to the farmhouse Will cooked us a full English breakfast

William Lindesay OBE

Running Hadrian's Wall in the North of England with his brother in 1984 it was suggested that William's next challenge should be to run the length of The Great Wall of China.   In the end it took him more that two years, on and off to cover the entire distance on foot

 During his attempts he overcame illness, injury, attacks by dogs, bubonic plague, near death by dehydration, arrest and deportation 

In 1987 he arrived in China with a pair of running shoes, a backpack, a sleeping bag and the determination that this time he would become the first to run the whole length of the wall

He  only survived because of the help from  ordinary Chinese citizens who provided shelter, food and encouragement

All but 50 miles of his journey were through forbidden territory.  Without help he would never have succeeded in evading the relentless authorities and another deportation

Methinks sibling rivalry played some part too


Our Wild Wall Weekend had attracted a very fit clientele.  We opted out of the afternoon hike so the others could go on a very strenuous climb.  There was a torrential downpour on Sunday so we were unable to venture on to the wall again


With the rest of the group up on The Wall we decide to get to know the neighbours

If the opportunity to stay with Will and Qui appeals to you, check our their website www.wildwall.com 

As of 2014 there were several options available


 In 2015 Joanna Lumley somewhat belatedly 'discovered' Will and Oui and their Wild Wall

Trans-Siberian Express  - Hiking the Great Wall   Joanna Lumley

Visiting the Great Wall of China is something Ive dreamt of since I was a little girl in Hong Kong, being so close to it, but not able to go because China was off limits.   We tracked down a man called William Lindsay, a Yorkshireman who fell in love with the Great Wall as a schoolboy and knew hed spend the rest of his life living with and charting it.  Hes married to a Chinese woman, and they have a house with an open courtyard, where we slept before rising at 3am. We had a coffee and set off into the jungle under a full moon

We hiked and hiked, and then, eventually, we came to it just before dawn this massive stone edifice.  There was just enough light to see a faint trace snaking far, far away over the crests of the hills, punctuated by crenellated garrison towers.   As dawn arrived, the peach-coloured light began to pick out the shape of the Wall and there were peacocks calling each other in the valleys, that weird sound echoing through the mist


The Wall is menacing yet crumbling.  William is determined to use every opportunity to show the shabby bits, to draw attention to them.  China doesnt seem to care for old things in the way we do, but its beginning to get shrewd about such things, to recognise that these treasures must be protected

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