Celebrate Christmas with a hike on the Great Wall!
We've been doing our special Christmas Hikes since 2004, and in 2021 the tradition continues!
This year for Christmas we're going to do the scenic Hemp Village to Gubeikou Great Wall hike, and then head to our favourite Gubeikou restaurant for a big lunch. After lunch we'll have a dumpling-making contest, with prizes to be won!
The starting point for this hike, Hemp Village, is a tiny settlement hidden away at the end of a long valley. In the hills behind Hemp Village is the line of Great Wall that joins Gubeikou and Jinshanling, which we'll follow through the hills.
To get to Hemp Village we walk in from the main highway, following a gravel road through small collections of houses until we get to the end of the road.
From the end of the road we'll follow a trail that leads up towards the Great Wall. On this part of the hike we'll have excellent views of the wall, but we won't be able to climb on top – this stretch of wall is closed to hikers because it borders a military area. Instead of walking on the wall here – and running the risk of soldiers joining our Christmas meal – we'll stick to the trails that run through the hills and valleys in this area, walking through some pretty farmland, with views of the Great Wall all the while.
Eventually the trail will take us up to the wall, and after a bit of a hill climb we'll reach the 24-Eyes Tower, the tallest tower of the Gubeikou stretch of Great Wall. It used to be that there were six big windows on each side of the tower, adding up to twenty-four. But during the fighting between the Chinese and Japanese armies in the late '30s, two of the sides of the tower were destroyed by bombing. As well as a few destroyed towers, you can also spot bullet holes in the Great Wall in this area.
From the 24-Eyes Tower we'll follow the wall to the west, passing through a lot of towers – some in good condition, some tumbled down to foundations only. For most of this last part of the hike we'll be on the wall, except for a short detour along a trail through a small pine forest.
And then, after we're all done with the hike, we'll head to a local restaurant where we'll have a big (although maybe not so traditional) Christmas feast of Chinese food, washed down with a good amount of beer.
After lunch, we’ll have a dumpling-making contest, with prizes awarded for ‘Most Dumplings’ and ‘Best Dumpling.’ If your dumplings are up to scratch, we may be be able to eat them as well!