REPORTER Tom Cotterill follows the highs and lows of a band of charity trekkers from Sussex as they walk the Great Wall in aid of the county’s only children’s hospice, Chestnut Tree House.
Day five: A chilly experience but spirits are still high
LAST night was a chilling experience for the Chestnut China Challengers - quite literally.
After the sun went down the temperature dropped rapidly.
However, this couldn’t lower the spirits of the trekkers as they enjoyed a buffet meal at a small hotel close to the base of the wall at Jinshanling.
After a chilly night’s sleep on firm mattresses, the team was ready for their third day traversing the wall.
For most of the fundraisers, the action started with an gruellingly steep climb up a narrow staircase towards.
Calf muscles were burning after just a few minutes tackling the punishing route, with most of the trekkers gasping for breath.
The route was unforgiving. But, the small pauses for rest did give the group a chance to soak in the breathtaking horizon once more.
The day was cooler and less oppressive than the previous ones. Blues skies had been replaced by a grey haze, with mist covering the peaks of distant mountains.
Hannah McCullough is the youngest fundraiser on the trip.
The 21-year-old, of Wiston Avenue, Worthing, has so far been taken aback by the views.
“It’s just those breathtaking moments when you stop and look around and you realise that you have been looking at your feet and then you come up and you’re just lost for words,” she said.
“I think it’s a great sense of achievement. The team work and morale of the group has been amazing.”
Hannah, who is studying children’s nursing at Surrey University, said she hopes to one day work in a hospice like Chestnut Tree House.
“I did a work placement with Chestnut Tree House at college,” she said. “They’re just amazing.”
The trekkers who opted to tackle the tougher opening section were joined by others from the team, who took the cable car to get on the wall.
They all then trudged on for another three hours, clocking up some four or so miles and hundreds of steps.
Chris Harris, of Ancton Drive, Middleton, said the day had been a thrilling one.
The 46-year-old said: “It been amazing. I don’t think that you can really get across how impressive the whole scenery is and the atmosphere behind it — it’s somehow unique.”
The dad of two was joined by Littlehampton’s Jess Thomson, who is a keen runner.
The 24-year-old, of Snowdrop Close, the step were tough but that her running training had helped her through it.
Speaking of the day, she said: “It’s been emotional. I felt it a bit more today. I did try call home but I couldn’t get through. But I feel fine. The second day was tough.”
Reflecting on the trip so far, she added: “The most memorable moment was the first time we saw the wall and went up the first bit of stairs to take our first photos.”
The trekkers have two more days of walking along the Great Wall to complete, with Friday’s voyage giving them the chance to rebuild a section of the ancient battlement.
They will then return back to Beijing to have a tour of the city, seeing some of the Chinese Capital’s most historic landmarks, including the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square.
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