Imagine a full moon, a touch of mist, some hooting owls and delicious local produce cooked by someone else. This was our exceptional experience last week when we stayed in Big Rock House over Moon Festival. Our wonderful evening meal was provided at the noodle restaurant (xiaolumian on the map). We met two of the owner/developers who explained the sustainable thinking behind the Brickyard eco-retreat, the Schoolhouse and the various houses in the village. The house, as described by others, is very comfortable, modern and attractive with a beautiful garden, comfortable beds and excellent facilities. The bath was huge but very slow to fill. Breakfast each morning at the Brickyard was very good.
As Mutianyu was very busy at the time of the National festival, the shuttle service to the cable car was suspended for the day. We decided to try Hike 8, the secret path up to the Great Wall. As a couple in our later years, we had definitely bitten off more than we could chew. We struggled upwards for 3 hours and finally came to a ridge where the path came to a stop. The views were magnificent and on a level with the dip of the wall on the opposite side of the valley. At that point, disappointed, we gave up and hobbled home, slipping and sliding all the way. Our much younger companions set off before us and managed to get right up to the Wall, although they, too found it quite a struggle and climbed the last section on all fours, apparently warding off giant spiders and centipedes as they went. Once they arrived at the Wall, it was quite a hike along to the cablecar and then another walk down to the Schoolhouse, where they were thrilled to tuck into burgers and top up with long, cold beers. Fortunately, the shuttle to the house was available and they hobbled in, many hours after leaving in the morning.
So, thank you to the staff at the Brickyard breakfast who suggested hike 8, - the views were magnificent. However, I suggest a warning to beware unless you are an experienced climber and have a mobile phone with you to call for help should any of those slippery paths cause a sprained ankle, or some such.
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