Brick in the Wall – Vikki Renoldi-King’s Great Wall of China trek
“You have not lived if you have not been to the Great Wall.” My phenomenal charity trek along this giant winding dragon of a structure for Heart Research UK made me realise how true this Chinese saying is.
By Vikki Renoldi-King
I decided to take on this challenge for Heart Research UK after walking a couple of marathons in memory of my brother Julian, who died in June 2014 from an aortic dissection. After he died, I started to walk everywhere and listen to songs that he had sent me over the years.
Pink Floyd – ‘Brick in the Wall’ was one of them.
I kept seeing the Great Wall of China trek appear on Heart Research UK’s website and something inside me made me sign up.
What struck me most was the final part of the challenge. Placing a brick in the Wall with a note for Julian. Everything seemed to connect.
The overnight flight to Beijing was long and we both suffered from jet lag. This didn’t prevent us from taking part in the warm up walk at our first stop in Pinggu. The aches and pains in my muscles made me wish I’d participated in more uphill training beforehand.
Day three was a so called ‘warm-up’ trek! For me it was the most difficult day of all, as it was my first encounter with the constant up and down terrain. Five days of endless steps awaited us.
Day four was tough, with eight hours of trekking. I found this day the most spiritual; the views were breath-taking. It was by far my favourite day of the trip.
We journeyed on, and covered twenty-seven watchtowers over old brick steps. The sun was shining, my music was playing and I felt amazing. We ventured down from the wall to the valley to trek through remote villages and farms. Finally, we re-joined the Wall to trek through the last eight watchtowers to Jinshanling.
Although it was an extremely tough day with countless ascents and descents, the view of the Great Wall disappearing over the mountains ahead of me will remain in my mind forever. I thought of all the people in the world battling illnesses every day and it gave me the strength and determination to carry on.
On Friday 26 October, one month before Julian’s birthday, Nikki and I placed a brick in the Great Wall of China for him. Our notes will remain in the cement forever, as he will remain in our hearts forever. We made incredible memories and met truly inspirational people. I’ll cherish these moments, be forever grateful for the life I live and for the supportive family I have. My brother lives on in our hearts and I hope that by completing this challenge we have helped the hearts of others.
Vikki’s and Nikki’s trek raised over £8000 for Heart Research UK. To learn more about taking on your own challenge, visit heartresearch.org.uk/challenges