On 5th May 2001 I, Eric Heaf, aged 76, climbed the Great Wall at Badaling, which is 72 km north-west of Beijing

The temperature was about 32 C but humidity was low and there was a cool breeze. First week of May is the main national holiday in China and thousands were there. It was day three of a comprehensive three-week tour of China

Many individual states built sections from 500 BC. In 200 BC the Qi dynasty had unified China and the wall was completed for over 6000km (3720 miles) with many branches. It was restored during the 14th--15th century Ming dynasty.

A new dual road leads from Beijing to the main tourist access point at Badaling. Each carriageway follows a separate route, as the terrain is too steep for them to be side by side. The wall seen through the coach window is a branch of the main wall. Badaling is just a large tourist 'honey pot' with extensive car park leading to a concourse.
There are well designed buildings such as a museum on a terrace looking over the concourse where traders' taking advantage of the 'open door' policy sell souvenirs from stalls along the sides. Access to the Wall is at the far end.

An explanation.

'Climbing the wall' means walking along the top to a fort about 700 feet up from the access gates. There are two directions; one to the left is the not so easy climb. To the right, outside the view is the alternative, reaching the same height but about one third the length therefore much steeper. I chose the difficult route, of course!! At the top one can purchase a certificate, but one discovered on the way down they could be obtained for half the price, The Chinese are no fools when 'milking' the tourists.

From the top fort there is a fine view across a further restored section to the next fort. Then the unrestored sections reach into the distance The steps vary in tread and riser within each flight, and the handrail, where it exists is sometimes a often bare twelve inches (30 cm) from the nosing.

This view is looking down the steepest part where the pitch is about 60 degrees.

Finally the picture you have been waiting for !!!
Well not quite

For here is a view from one of the excellent books of photographs made by the Chinese.

Source: Eric Heaf 2003.
Web Page Written by Ben Heaf. - September 2003
Text and Photographs Copyright Ben Heaf © 2003