The Great Wall of China is probably on most visitor’s bucket list, and it was also on ours. What many people don’t know is that the Wall has crumbled in most places and is almost inaccessible, but if you make it there it is free to roam.
We chose to visit one of closest point to Beijing, the Mùtiányù Great Wall in Huairou District, (about 1.5 hours drive on a decent traffic day) and that was a restored tourist trap section where they also operated a cable car line up the hill (but not as bad as Badaling, where people can barely walk around and the traffic is always a jam also)- and I admit with the twins we might not have made it there otherwise…The trip was up was fun, although a bit exhausting for the kids, and even I got very excited when I got the first peek of that famous wall!
I recall my husband telling me that the wall is a fitness test, but still I did not quite realise how steep it is. You go up and down pretty much all the time. In the end we skipped the cable car down and opted to walk down instead, as the trek back to the starting point would have been mainly uphill (and probably would have had to carry the twins). Anyway, I say well done to little Miss C. who must have walked over 1000 steps altogether without complaining at all.
At the village there were all sorts of cool things for sale, and I think some of them might end up in our house at some point too. So pretty tablecloths and little statues everywhere!
Going up, this in itself was a great adventure for the kids
First sighting of the wall
Our trekking plan for the day – from 14 to 7 was all we managed
Ready, set, go… we are going first down the hill
There are guard stations every 100-200 yards (meters) or so
These steps were quite challenging as they were so worn out
Up and down, untrained legs (like mine) started shaking in the end
Every guard house also seemed to have local vendors with ice cold water, beer and snacks…
We chose this pretty path down to the village instead climbing all the up back to the cable car station
A really pretty rest stop on the way down with some nice views over the valley
On the roadsides we could spot tons of fruit, vegetable and accessory vendors
My star rating for Mùtiányù Great Wall (慕田峪): Good to Excellent
“Despite having a steady flow of visitors the Wall wasn’t crowded at any given point. The weather was a bit foggy, but the views of the valley and surrounding mountains were still breathtaking. The sight of the wall going up and down the mountains is just so amazing and makes you wonder how they managed to build it all – carrying stones to the top of the mountain (especially as one cannot see too many rocks around the hills!).
The wall is pretty steep at times, and despite being well maintained and restored, some steps are quite worn out and provide a challenge for the smaller ones in the family. It’s a good idea to bring some food and snack and take it slow and enjoy the experience, but in case you run out of supplies there is a local person in almost every watchtower selling (cooled) drinks and snacks at a reasonable price.
Taking the cable car up might be a good idea if you not very fit or have small kids, for there is lot of walking to be done up and down the stairs. One options is to walk from one end to another and take a toboggan down – it is always a fun experience. The village is full of little stands selling food and souvenirs and will provide a good opportunity to practise the bargaining skills – do remember to start really low though, as you can expect to do even 80% down from the first asking price…”