Mutianyu Fort is at the head of the pass which gives easy access onto the North China Plain. What is significant about this is not that the valley is wide here - it is not - or that it is low down - it is not - but that there is a gentle slope either side, making it easy for horses to get through here. This little dip in the hills is much more strategic than it looks, despite the seemingly wider valleys to the east.
The fort was an access point and was probably here long before the Wall was constructed along the ridge line either side.
Many visitors do not make it to the fort, as it requires a lot of climbing up and down as you walk along the wall.
Along the road, not far from where you can start climbing the wall is this family with their restaurant. They prepared some good food for us to start our trip with. The family is very friendly and the food tastes delicious! You'll also have a view at the Great Wall while your eating.
To get to this section of the wall from Beijing you can take a subway to Dongzhimen and paraglide over the thoroughfare; walk down the street past KFC, turn right, and take bus #916 from the longdistance busstation.
There are two in the morning 7:40, 9:40am, and two in the afternoon 3:40, 5:30pm.
The fare is Y7-8
Alternatively, bus #916 leaves Dongzhimen frequently for Huairou (Y7); take connecting bus #916 (approx. every hour. 5:50am-6:30pm, Y2.5) to Huanghua.
This part of the wall is not easy, and if you decide to spent the night on top, prepare for total darkness, and with a flashlight you won't always be able to see how deep down you'll if you would tumble of the wall. It is also not a clear path, there are bushes overgrowing the whole wall. Go here with a healthy condition and wear very good shoes!
One of the nicest areas in Beijing is the succession of valleys immediately north of the Great Wall at Mutianyu.
By leaving the wall at the Mutianyu Pass Fort, where there is a toliet block, you can walk down the gentle valley into a quiet area, devoid of tourists.
For thousands of years these valleys were all terraced, but many of the terraces fell into disrepair during the 1960s and 70s. Now the local farmers are reviving the orchards. The range of nuts and fruits is quite incredible and you can buy peaches, cherries, plums, apples, walnuts, almonds, and apricots at the side of the rad, or - best of all - from a farmer harvesting the tree.
Peace, quiet, fresh fruit and nuts. It's a tranquil scene, far removed from the Forbidden City and spitting taxi drivers.
Huanghua cheng used to be called wild great wall for its un-restored condition. In 2005, Huanghua Cheng has been restored and become open to public again under Beijing government legal permission. In this area, there are three walls, namely, Mutianyu, Huanghua Cheng and Xiangshui Lake. In ancient time, they were all connected. The distance between Huanghua Cheng and Xiang Shui lake is very close, that is 8km. Xiang Shui lake wall is even more amazing.
For more information about great wall in beijing www.carrentalsbeijing.com
Fondest memory: The resevoir below the friendly people there.
Maps are difficult to find in China.
The Falling Rain map is useful to some extent. It gives an idea of the topography which is missing in most local maps.
There are other maps in "Hiking Around Beijing" and in the "Self Drive Map - Beijing" available in Beijing.