Whenever people talk about what they will do on the weekend, most say they might go to parks or coffee shops or just relax at home. As a student living in Beijing, tons of school work, and sometimes the pollution or even the sheer number of people in the city, can be overwhelming, so a weekend getaway sounds perfect.
The getaway of my choice would be the Great Wall, not the touristy sections at 八达岭 (Badaling), 慕田峪(Mutianyu), or 金山岭 (Jinshanling), but a “wild wall” between them. The place I am talking about is 箭扣 (Jiankou) Great Wall. In some places, that section is half-broken or even unrecognizable. But if you know where to go, you can be exploring the Great Wall in pristine condition that only few hikers and tourists have been.
If you drive 80km north of Beijing’s city center, you get to the Northern Mountains where that wild Great Wall section is. Go on a road trip north through Huairou and into the mountains to the village of 西栅子 (Xizhazi). Just park your car and hike on mountain paths to the wall and get back to Beijing on the same day!
How do I know this place? My family and I have been going to the wild Great Wall section at Jiankou for many years, so I know the valleys and the paths within them like the back of my hand. My family is perhaps the only one maintaining the paths there; we clear up other people’s litter so it would be out of our sight when we try to enjoy nature’s wonders. Anyone is welcome to the natural wonders of China, but be sure to leave the place cleaner than you found it.
Pack up your troubles and stresses and go on a weekend getaway from Beijing.
Photos by Thomas Alexander Lindesay