When Lisa Settle saw this trip advertised she knew immediately that it would tick all the travel boxes for her – and at the same time allow her to fundraise for JDRF:
“The Great Wall of China is a wonderous sight. Stretching over 13,000 miles of Chinese countryside, it snakes up and down and in and out of provinces, over mountains and across plateaus. Its enormity is hard to process, not to mention the construction of such a monument.
“It didn’t take long to talk my two fellow adventurers, Liz and Sally into signing up and before we knew it our Just Giving Pages were set up and flights were being booked.
“JDRF UK is a charity close to my heart. My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11 years old. At that time, we knew nothing about the condition. Needless to say, that all changed, and we are still learning 18 years later.
“My family’s choice to support JDRF was easy. Although science has come a long way, research is still paramount and if we want to see a cure then we really have to play our part. Of course, awareness is extremely important too, so spreading the word is always high on our agenda.
“The trek was everything it promised to be and more. The sun shone, the skies were blue, and the temperatures were good. We suffered one miserable day and even though we were soaked to the skin and feeling cold we managed to laugh our way through torrential rain, thunder, lightning and even hail.
“Upon our return to the guest house we were treated to a warm cup of ‘cocoa’, however, we soon realised that this was a warm cup of coco-cola with the addition of ginger. Strangely it was quite nice and certainly did the job of warming us up.
“Before the trek I had heard about parts of the wall being narrow and having big drops either side, this really concerned me and had been constantly on my mind. The reality wasn’t much different to how I’d imagined it and I don’t mind telling you that I was absolutely terrified when confronted with the dilemma of having to pass over rocks and uneven ground with nothing at the sides, except a sheer drop. Our team leader Eleni held my hand and bombarded me with a string of the worst jokes ever known to man, and I got through it.
“Each day we set off early, hoping to get some good walking time in cool temperatures. We often had a packed lunch; we would sit somewhere along the wall marvelling at the amazing view, whilst tucking into our sandwich of choice (my well-travelled jar of marmite coming in handy.)
“An important thing to constantly be aware of was hydration. Our team medics, Dr Kirsty and Dr Robyn were on our case every minute of the day. How much have you had to drink? Have you washed your hands? Have you peed? The subject of peeing brought about much discussion.
“There were 25 in the team and I’m happy to report that we all got on fantastically well, the support and camaraderie was fabulous. I was lucky to have my birthday mid-trek and it will be a birthday I won’t forget in a hurry, breath-taking scenery, a wonderful group of friends and a delicious birthday cake, oh and a big bowl of noodles, for longevity, don’t you know? No, I didn’t either, but it was a nice thought.
“The trek was over far too quickly and before we knew it we were being coached back to Beijing for a spot of sightseeing and a celebration dinner.
“Once at the hotel, with WIFI, I was able to check my emails and was delighted to find that my Just Giving Page had also seen some action, the total was over £2000.
“Feeling rather overwhelmed with the generosity of others and the happiness of achievement, I couldn’t help having a little emotional moment but not for too long as dinner and a cold beer were calling.”