It’s a steep wall, and it’s steeped in myth and legend. (One myth we will debunk right now: the human eye cannot detect the Great Wall from space!) It’s also among the world’s biggest tourist attractions – and easily accessible from Beijing. SEE • Badaling – the most visited section of the Wall. Just 80 kilometres from Beijing, B a d a l i n g i s c omp l e t e l y renovated (for better or worse) and outfitted with wide paths and handrails, making it easier to climb than most sections. It’s generally crammed with big tour operators. • Mutianyu – less crowded than Badaling, though still popular

with independent travellers and smaller tour groups. Cable cars shuttle tourists from the base to the top for spectacular views. To get down, hike, jump on a cable car or opt for a wind-in-your-hair toboggan ride. • Simatai – the two-hour drive from Beijing deters most tourists, as do the plunging cliffs, jagged ridges and super-steep watch towers. The charm of this section is that it’s largely unrenovated, though major parts are now closed exactly for this reason. • Huanghuacheng and Jiankou – strictly for those with hiking boots and a healthy relationship with heights; the stretches are steeper and the bricks looser along these unrestored parts of the wall. • Other parts – a group called Beijing Hikers ( organises tours to more remote parts of the wall. This is a decent option for strong- backed tourists who loathe weak-backed ones! STAY • The Brickyard is a lodge and spa about 10 minutes fromMutianyu. Rooms have a modern rustic feel and feature a glass wall and outdoor terrace with spectacular views of the Wall. • William Lindesay is a British Great Wall researcher whose company, Wild Wall, organises excursions to remote sections of the wall, including accommodation in a farmhouse , to longer “extreme” hiking and camping adventures. • The School House is a sustainable tourism enterprise that provides employment for locals. It comprises eight restored village houses used as comfortable visitor accommodation, including Grandma’s House, with two bedrooms and enclosed garden – perfect for a family.


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