The Ming Village overnighter is one of our old favourites—two days of hiking, and an overnight stay in a guesthouse in Cuandixia, a village that dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
On the first day, we hiked up to an abandoned village in the hills behind Cuandixia for a look about, with birds-eye views of Cuandixia on the way up, and a nice leaf-lined trail to follow on the way back down.
After dinner that night, we had a bonfire in the courtyard, and enjoyed the warmth of the fire. Cuandixia is quite far out into the hills, and it was already chilly in the evenings out there.
On the second day, we split into two groups – one group to do a 28km walk up and over the Huangcaoliang Plateau and down to Dragon Gate Gorge, and the other group visiting the gorge as well as a nearby 'Hanging Temple.'
A view of Cuandixia from the hills opposite. It's sometimes called the 'dumpling-shaped' village.
We hiked up a steep ridge on the first day.
At the top of the ridge and after a 20-minute walk, we arrived at the ruined village to take a look about.
The plastered walls previously featured murals and slogans. The red characters at the bottom look like part of 'Chairman Mao.'
Up early for the long hike on the second day, some of us took a group shot.
A hiker and our local guide, Mr Tan.
We hiked up towards Huangcaoliang, passing through a rock feature known as Elephant Rock.
Huangcaoliang translates roughly as Yellow Grass Plateau – you can see the name is appropriate.
On the other side of the plateau we saw tall cliffs and deep valleys.
Our path would take us around these cliffs, heading a stretch of Great Wall, barely seen in the background.
We stopped at the Great Wall for a snack break. This section is known as the Seven Towers.
The first of the seven towers is built on a bluff.
Passing by the Great Wall, we headed down into a valley, encountering what we think was a yak.
In the valley, past the yaks, we passed by a small settlement.
We walked through some fields to get to the head of Dragon Gate Gorge.
In the Dragon Gate Gorge we saw a lot of insect life – wasps, bugs, and giant spiderwebs.
Water flows down through the gorge, making a small waterfall in this rocky section.
Dragon Gate Gorge is impressive: very narrow in places, with high cliffs.
Some of the cliffs in the gorge.
The park road goes a small distance into the gorge, before turning into a dirt track.
Halfway up the stairs to the Hanging Temple, we stopped for a group shot.
Something spotted in the cliffs!
The foot of the gorge, on an excellent blue sky day.