This stretch of wall is part of the Huanghuacheng (Yellow Flower) Great Wall, and contains restored and unrestored sections for us to explore.
We’ll start off near the Huanghuacheng Reservoir, and scramble up a hill trail to get on to the wall. This first section has been restored, and while a little steep in places, is good to walk on.
After around 40 minutes, we’ll reach the highest point on this stretch—the base of a ruined tower—and take a break to enjoy the amazing views: back the way we came, the steep and twisting Huanghuacheng Great Wall rises from the reservoir and snakes off into the distance; to the east, farmland and small villages in a broad valley surrounded by mountains; to the west, the stretch of Great Wall that we’ll continue along.
Following the wall, we dip down to the Zhuangdaokou Gate, an archway through which our Zhuangdaokou to the Walled village hike passes. The climb down to the archway is steep, and there are no ramparts or crenellations to hold on to – it’s necessary to take it slow and easy here.
We’ll take a break at the archway, and gather our energy for the climb up the steep and tall stairs on the opposite side of the pass. After climbing the stairs, we’ll be following unrestored wall along a ridgeline for a little more than an hour, passing through five or six ruined towers.
If we continued along the wall we’d arrive at the Little West Lake. Instead of heading for the lake, we’ll leave the wall and follow a hill trail to the Walled Village, passing through chestnut orchards and fields on our way back down to flat ground. The trail is not too steep, but can be bushy in places, particularly in summer.
The Walled Village is a small settlement that has sprung up in and around an old army barracks that used to house soldiers tasked with guarding the Great Wall. The walls remain in good condition, and it’s possible to walk along the top of the walls just about all the way around the village. The village inside the walls is full of courtyard houses, old trees, and grindstones.
After we’ve finished investigating the village, we’ll walk out to the main road to meet our bus, and head back to the reservoir to get lunch at our favourite local restaurant.