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Barbara Swift's blog

12th October - Day 1 The Start of the Journey

About 8.00 a.m. and we are off to Heathrow airport for a check in at 1.30 � well you never know what the traffic will be like!

Today the M1 is really easy going apart from the major road works near the M25 and we have a stop for an M&S sandwich.

Heathrow is well signposted and Graham soon finds the short stay car park and we get a place quickly. Its only just gone 11.30a.m.

Into Departures and we get chance for a look around, toilets, and a sit down for a chat. I am so nervous and excited that I keep saying jaybing instead of Beijing. Graham is so nervous for me he hasn't noticed yet! Then he mentions something about Hilda Baker!!!

It's about 1.30. p.m. now and I start to meet a few people I met on my training weekend in the hills around Glossop. Soon we are called to meet the Tour organisers and collect tickets and then into a very long queue to check in. I get chance to choose an aisle seat so I can get up easily for a walk round in my flight tights.

I'm back in another queue for the departure lounge now and say my farewells to Graham, telling him for the nth time that he should be coming with me. I expect he thought about that during his 5-hour journey home.

13th October Day 2 Arrival in China

Flight was about 10 hours, only twice as long as Graham's drive home!! I'll tell you more about the flight later perhaps. At 3.15 a.m. BST ( 10.15 a.m. in China ) I send my first text home to say I had arrived safely. I get a text back � Graham is thankful. I'm now on the coach to a villa in the Yanyuan Mountains. It's raining.

At 5.15 .a.m. ( 12.00 a.m. in China ) and I have a cold shower to stay awake. Tonight we are going to have a dinner and hear about the week ahead.

Well I can text now, but will I be able to send pictures?

Day 3

Started the day at 8.00 a.m. with a warm up.

I am in a village called Lotus Pond and it's hot already. I see my first close ups of the wall but it is very tough going - 1400 steps !

As we climb to see the spectacular views. Next stop is Mutianyu where the wall is restored to its former grandeur. To get back down I can go on a toboggan run, cable car or walk!

Day 4 - Hi Crich

It's really tough today - 8 hours treking. The start was Ok in a pretty valley with streams, waterfalls and small settlements, but then onto a dirt trail over a ridge into Black Dragon Paw Park. Lunch in the park then a difficult uphill climb through heavy undergrowth until we reached the tallest tower on this section of the wall. The guide at the top looks very happy and relaxed.

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I'm not sure what I look like.

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I thought Crich was hilly !!!

Day 5

Started the walk today at a village called Gubeikou. The wall sits along the Yanshan mountains and very striking. Access is up a road then along the wall towards Jinshanling. Some sections go back to the Ming dynasty and unrestored. They look so different. The wall is about 2 or 3 m wide but there are no side walls and is overgrown. This section is one of the least visited parts of the wall. At one point we had to get off the wall - there was a military zone and no photos allowed.

Well that's another 7 hours treking and my little legs feel like they are dropping off!. We sleep 3 or 4 in a line on little mattresses raised off the floor on a wooden platform and last night I was cold. But guess what I packed? - My hot water bottle and Japanese hand warmers. Food? - rice and noodles. I dream of a gravy dinner!

Bye for now.

Day 6

Started the day from where we left off yesterday at Jinshanling. On this section there are some obstacle walls - walls within walls to make life tough for attackers! Pass 14 watch towers today before lunch. I think it will be rice and noodles- can't wait. Some of the steps are very very steep and at our high point today we will be 700m above sea level with incredible views. If the weather is clear we might see how far we have walked.

Tomorrow we have to be up at 4-15a.m. to see a sunrise on the wall at Simatai.
Many thanks for following me on the CACN web site.

Day 7

On the Great wall at Simatai and able to see the sunrise and spectacular scenery. Graham was able to phone me at 5.30 a.m. China time and said I sounded out of breath. Well the trek today was short ( 4hours) but very tough. Another 1200 steps, very steep sections and some sheer drops either side - not for vertigo sufferers. At the end of the day we walk down through villages and transfer by coach to the Beijing Rainbow hotel Took about 3 hours. I have booked a foot massage and tonight we get a dinner.

Graham is able to get hold of me by phone on some occasions but I cannot dial out. Also my texts and pictures are not getting through. A bit disappointing! never mind, Andrew perhaps will put a few pictures on the site when I get back. No walking tomorrow!!!!!!!! We get a tour of the Forbidden city and a celebration dinner.

See you all soon.

Day 8

Visited the forbidden city and enjoyed a rickshaw ride to a traditional Chinese house where we were served continuous Chinese food. We have our celebration dinner tonight at the Rainbow Hotel and then it's packing for the long flight home.

Day 9

Safely back home now. Sorry that not all my photos came through in time. Here are a few pictures of the trek.

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It was a very tough challenge - tougher than I expected but very worthwhile.Thank you for all your support and sponsorship - I will have raised approx �2000 for Arthritis research.

Barbara

P.S Think I will go on a Cruise for my next 60th !!!!