Out in the far west of Beijing is the Zhenbiancheng Great Wall, a stretch of unrestored wall from the Ming Dynasty-era (1368-1644 AD).
It's quite far from the city, and difficult to access, which means that we don't often see anyone else out there when we visit.
On this trip during the big October holiday, we didn't see anyone else on the wall. What we did see was a lot of beautiful autumn colours, and a remote area of countryside China – quite a different feel from the main sections of Great Wall, which were sure to be super-crowded during the holiday.
We started the hike with a long walk up a long valley. In the background of this photo can be seen the distinctive jagged peaks of Brush-rest Mountain.
Autumn colours in the countryside.
We hiked in this area a few weeks later, and these leaves had already fallen.
At the top of the valley, and after quite a climb: the Great Wall.
We all took a break before heading on.
We followed the wall up to the tower in the background, and on further.
The wall is built on the highest ridgeline in the area, and we had good views of the hills and more Great Wall on the other side of the valley.
The village in the valley below is called Shuitou, and it's a difficult, rough road to get there – best visited by jeep.
Autumn colours in the valley below the wall.
The wall in this area was first built with rocks.
A steep section of wall.
The wall here is old, and unrestored – after 400 years, it's not in such good condition.
We followed the Great Wall along the ridgelines.
It looks quite flat here, but this was the highest point of the hike.
We took a break at the high point.
After a break, we headed on along the wall.
This tower is constructed with bricks, which likely means that it was added in a second round of building – probably in the 15th century.
We followed a steep hill trail down from the wall, passing through a forested valley and heading back out to the nearest road.