This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves
Our hotel at Huairou.
The bus transferred us to the start of the day’s walk.
The sign said quite clearly ‘This section of the Great Wall is not open to the public”.
I guess we must have been “private”… for walk it we did.
But first there was a long, hard climb just to get up onto the wall.
The walk went up a steep, winding path through a forested area.
Several plants to photograph on the way up.
We walked through this quaint village on the way up. There was a road of sorts this far, after which it was just a track to the Wall. We were aiming for that little bump on the horizon on the right of the picture, almost obscured by power lines in the photo.
Aconitum sp. commonly known as Monkshood
Now, let me digress slightly and tell you something about this plant with its unusually shaped, deep blue flowers. It is a deadly toxic plant. There are several examples in history of the poison from this plant being used to kill animals and people. For example, it’s been used to kill whales and wolves… the latter giving the plant another of its common names, Wolf bane.
But there’s one story that’s relevant to our walk on the Wall. Here in China, in centuries past, when wars were fought with bow and arrow, Aconitum poison was used on arrows… and not just on the tips. A paste made from the plant was smeared along both the points and the shaft of the arrows… presumably very carefully with something to keep the paste from the hands of the soldiers! Then, it was hoped, that anyone in the opposing army who attempted to remove an arrow from a wounded ‘mate’, would also be poisoned and die in agony. Is that maybe the ultimate for the saying “two for the price of one’!
Light through the petals of Aconitum buds.
Because of the lovely blue flowers, Aconitum is often used in formal garden beds especially in Europe. It was a long held belief, that only the roots are poisonous. But it’s been proven that all of the plant is toxic and the plant should be handled with care. As recently as November 2014, an inquest into the death of a gardener in England found that he had died from multiple organ failure after handling Aconitum plants without protection. Apparently, the toxin can enter the body through broken skin. Even if it doesn’t kill, it can make you pretty sick.
So the moral of the story is, learn about the plants you propose to plant in your garden. There are many, like daffodils and daphne, that are toxic to some level but not deadly unless eaten.
Being autumn, there were various examples of fungi to find. What a beauty this is. BUT, this is another type of plant that can be toxic. Know your mushrooms before you touch or eat!
Another fascinating fungi… very ‘architectural’.
Look but don’t touch.
While I was searching for plants to photograph, some of the group were still making their way up the long, winding, steep, difficult climb. This small clip will show you what I mean.
A rest stop in the shade was much needed before we actually got to the Wall.
The view from the rest stop was rather awe inspiring.
And so say all of us. (Note the bhpbilliton involvement!)
This area is just too special to spoil in any way at all.
And this was the view that greeted us when we got up onto the actual Wall.
‘Twas a bit daunting after that hike just to get to the start point.
But now it was time to conquer this stretch of wall.
More of that anon.
All Photography Copyright © David Young of jtdytravels
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