Monthly Archives: March 2013

Friends and colleagues warned be before my departure: I was crazy to fly over 12 hours across two continents for only 7 days of fun. I knew it was impossible to visit each corner of the country I had been longing so much to explore – but I was determined to do as much as I could physically and mentally withstand.

And so, in addition to exploring Shanghai’s history and culture, we managed to squeeze in a day in Beijing, another one in Hangzhou and, of course, a trip to the Great Wall.

Mutianyu Great Wall, China

Mutianyu is one of the best preserved parts of the Great Wall, located at about 70 km from Beijing (which, when counted in rush hour, can mount up to almost 4 hours in a tiny bus!).

Mutianyu Great Wall, China

Being so close to Beijing, we expected a large tourist influx. But at arrival we were surprised to see that it was actually possible to have parts of the path entirely for ourselves. Ok, this usually didn’t last longer than a minute before the next visitor walked along – but still, we had enough time to take shots without anyone’s red cap or socks and sandals disturbing the historic view.

Mutianyu Great Wall, China

Unfortunately, we weren’t exactly equipped for a stoney old stair expedition – one of my friends was wearing wedges and the other one a similarly uncomfortable shoe. I, on the other hand, thought I was a smart ass by wearing my Five Fingers. Well, let me tell you something here: think twice about wearing them for a considerable long time on a really hot day!

As we reached the bottom of the BIG CLIMB (dramatic, right?) my feet felt as swollen as a foot of a hobbit. My friend-in-wedges had given up earlier, so it was only two of us left. Would dragging ourselves up there be really worth it?

Mutianyu Great Wall, China

Well, when you’re on the Great Wall of China – you can be assured it always is.

Mutianyu Great Wall, China

Hiking the Great Wall of China

Practical Information

Route: Mutianyu (From Tower 6 to Tower 20 – Towards Jiankou)
Elevation gain uphill: 400m
Elevation gain downhill: 180m
Length: less than 4 km
Duration: 2 hrs
Difficulty: Fairly Easy
Map: Mutianyu Great Wall

Have you been on the Great Wall? Which section would you recommend?

I checked the weather forecast as usual. Just a few days before my long-planned excursion, the odds were in my favor: Saturday would be sunny with zero chance of rain. I should have known better. One and a half years in England have proven that weather forecasts can’t be relied on – specially when it’s more than a few hours ahead.

I was determined, though. No heavy clouds and mist were going to stop me from keeping to my plan: I was finally going to hike the Seven Sisters!

Hiking Seven Sisters, UK

The Seven Sisters chalk cliffs are one of the finest and unspoiled coastlines in Britain. These white cliffs form part of the South Downs in East Sussex, between Seaford and Eastbourne in the south of England.

A simple commute from Victoria Station took us to Seaford, where the famous hike begins. Or, at least, the longer version of it. If you’re not an eager hiker or are running short in time, I recommend you take a bus from Seaford to the Seven Sisters Country Park – you’ll save about 1.5 hours hike (then again, you won’t have the chance to walk through an open golf course fearing for your life – which is an absolute thrill).

During this first part of the walk, we had the path for ourselves – with the sea on our right and sheep on our left. After an hour, we arrived at a beautiful little beach. Unfortunately, we hadn’t realized that between us and the beach was a river that led us away from the coast for probably 1.5 km. That wasn’t the major problem, though. It was the path next to the river: filled with deep mud!

As we reached the bridge to cross over, we realized that this was the actual beginning – the Seven Sisters Country Park. We felt relief to see that there were many other leisure walkers and avid hikers on this way towards the coastline!

Seven Sisters, UK

Seven Sisters, UK

Seven Sisters, UK

It was a pleasant walk (despite the wet weather), with surprisingly varied backgrounds: hills, sea-side, sheep, cows, rivers and even an old lighthouse! My tip: if it had been raining before or during your hike – take the bus to the Seven Sisters Country Park (unless, of course, you’re wearing your wellies!)

Practical Information

Route: From Seaford to Eastbourne (along the Seven Sisters)
Elevation gain uphill: 565m
Elevation gain downhill: 522m
Length: 20 km
Duration: 4:30 – 5:15 hrs
Difficulty: Easy
Wikiloc: Seven Sisters

Have you been to the Seven Sisters?