Bolney WI: At our February meeting on Thursday 11th, it was heartening to see a good ‘house’ for Brenda Sand’s talk on her recent expedition to the Great Wall of China.

The wall is 5,000km from east to west and building began in the 7th century BC; it took more than 2,000yrs to complete.

Initially it was a defence against China’s marauding neighbours (although looking at the surrounding terrain today, the armies must have been truly desperate to get into China) In 1987 the Great Wall was listed as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Brenda’s adventure began with a three hour ‘stroll’ including warm-up steps (which are not of regular height or depth) and some very steep paths. This was preparation for Day 2- a trek of 11K which took 7/8 hours over difficult and challenging terrain in temperatures of 23 degrees.

This was not for the faint-hearted with its sheer drops on either side, steps which required the ‘all fours’ technique and the afore-mentioned heat.

Some members of the party discovered that they suffered from vertigo and had to withdraw which must have been galling.

On Day four the group climbed past and through battlements to climb the 1000 steps of the Heavenly Ladder.

On the penultimate day, the group was permitted by the Chinese government to lay a brick each on Badaling Old Wall which is under repair. They enclosed a personal note of remembrance for a loved one. They also bought stars and hearts as a representation of children of Chestnut Tree House who had died or who were currently undergoing treatment.

Through their stay, the group stayed in various hostels and were bussed to points along the Wall. Walkers less ‘trepid’ than Sherpa Sands were able to use cable cars to reach some starting points. The accompanying film showed the magnificent bleakness of the landscape with lush vegetation but no apparent birds or other wild life.

It brought into focus the mind-blowing skills of those ancient builders.

Brenda and her companion raised an awesome £6000 for Chestnut Tree House which is a children’s hospice in Sussex. It is impossible to cover Brenda’s talk effectively in a short account like this but it was inspirational.

Our next meeting and speaker is on Thursday March 10th at 2.30pm by Sarah Guy whose subject is The Work of the PDSA.

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