We’ll drive out past Badaling into Hebei Province to reach the trailhead, which begins on a lonely stretch of mountain highway. After a 30–40 minute walk up a road into the mountains, we’ll arrive at Big Camp Plate Village.
The ‘Camp’ part of the name comes from the village being an old supply point for the wall in this area, back in the Ming Dynasty. Nowadays the village is virtually empty, apart from when everyone shows up for the planting and harvest seasons.
From the village we continue along a dirt road, aiming for the meadows by the Great Wall. We’ll hike up to the wall for a look. The wall here is built on a cliff, and the views are amazing.
From the meadows we’ll backtrack a short distance to find the trail that heads down to a narrow gully, which we’ll follow to find another interesting feature of the Great Wall in this area – a gate in the wall at the end of the gully. Don’t go through the gate – you’ll be in for a drop of about six metres.
This gate is called the Water Pass, and perhaps it was made to allow water from the gully to flow through. More likely it was an actual gate, as there are signs of it having had a door. With the wall beyond the gate all tumbled down it’s tough to tell if there were steps to climb up to the gate, or if a ladder would have been used.
We’ll climb up over the gate and follow a narrow trail that takes us up on to the wall high above, which we’ll then follow up to a high point.
This line of wall is fairly steep, and a lot of it has fallen down. This makes it a fairly tricky climb. But it’s worth it, with the views getting better and better the higher we get.
We’ll aim to get to the high point for lunch, and we’ll stop to enjoy the views as we eat – Great Wall on two sides, and mountains and valleys all around.
Nearby the high point is a line of Great Wall known as Yangbiancheng, which was built as a model for the construction of other Great Wall in the same area. We’ll hike down here after lunch for a look.
On the other side of the Yangbiancheng wall is a narrow trail that leads down and out a valley, and we’ll head down that way to finish the walk. It’s a relaxing walk down – a nice dirt path of about 5km that is shaded by trees. As we get further down, the path widens as we near fields and terraces that are farmed by people from the nearby village of Hengling.
We’ll meet our bus at the roadside and finish the hike with a little picnic before heading back to Beijing.