Tackling the Great Wall of China for Clic Sargent

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In August of 2005, three-year-old Brianne Roberts, daughter of Chris and Kim, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. She has now, thankfully, been in remission for five years. Deciding it was important to mark this wonderful moment in the Roberts family’s life – and to say thank-you to the charity who supported them through it all – the Brianne Roberts Challenge Group chose to tackle one of the world’s seventh wonders. The Great Wall of China.

We spoke to Chris and Richard Home on Wednesday, to find out more about the challenges he and his fellow walkers faced along the greatest man-made structure on earth.

“It was while I was in Peru that I started thinking about doing something to mark the end of Brianne’s treatment and I’d always fancied walking the Great Wall of China,” Chris told us.

“It wasn’t easy though, as I’d just had keyhole surgery on my knee and had been told my the doctor that I couldn’t go mountain biking, which would’ve been great for training in preparation. So I headed to the gym instead for a couple of hours each day after work.”

Chris and his team (consisting of Richard, Neil Macraild, Ewan Wilson, Shona Edwards and James Stevenson) headed out on September 17 to Beijing, and Chris notes that the driver must’ve worked for Michael Schumaker given the speeds he drove at!

The first day was spent acclimatising to the environment, visiting various notable tourist spots such as Tiananman Square.

“The following day we went to Old Dragon’s Head, which marks the beginning (or end, depending on your direction) of the Great Wall of China, and that’s where we set off,” Chris said. “We were surprised at the conditions some parts of the wall were in – in some cases, you were walking on a narrow path with nothing either side of you.”

Together, the team walked 60km from start to finish over the seven days, with some days tougher than others.

“No two steps were the same,” explained Chris, “As they were all built at different heights so you really had to concentrate on your footing.”

“Heaven’s Ladder was really tough,” explained Richard. “It was so steep – the photos we took really don’t do it justice. It was some climb!”

See next week’s Buteman for more on the group’s experience walking the Great Wall of China!