"I met some amazing people and
the scenery was breathtaking"
When Felicia Springett turned 50 she set herself the incredible challenge of a trek along part of the Great Wall of China to raise funds for St Helena Hospice. By age 52 she had achieved the demanding 56.5 mile walk along both crumbling and restored sections of this Wonder, passing through woodland, along the contours of remote hills and mountains, and up lots and lots of steps. After 137,937 steps and 662 flights of stairs later, Felicia tells us about the highs and lows of her adventure…
I had such an amazing experience, I met some amazing people and the scenery was breathtaking. I went with a group of around 20 people I hadn’t met before, many of them doing it for their own local hospice or for other charities, and a few people were doing it just for a holiday. The group was very varied, from marathon runners to people that had never trekked before and I was sort of in the middle. There were days along the way when I thought I just can’t do this, but we encouraged each other.
We flew to Beijing and then were transported to our starting point at Huangyaguan where we stayed overnight. We got up in the morning and the Wall was just there in front of us.
The first day was an acclimatisation day of a ‘short’ 9 mile walk. It was then I felt very daunted by it all. The next day we trekked another 9.5 miles across different terrains and up the equivalent of 138 flights of stairs. We tackled Heaven’s Ladder, a steep climb up 200 steps, rewarded by fantastic views at the top. But during the day I fell over and twisted in my ankle; I didn’t realise how bad it was. That was just on the second day!
So then on day three I just put one of those stocking bandages on and walked the whole day. Luckily we only did 54 flights of stairs which was much better! At the end of the day we had quite a long bus ride to our next stop, and my foot swelled right up. I was in some pain but the trek doctor who was travelling with us, strapped it all up for me, and I just carried on. On the last day I walked further than required because I was determined to get to the next tower. Once I reached there my challenge was almost complete so I decided to talk to my dad on the phone at 4.30am. The day after I fell over was really tough and one of my wonderful fellow travelling companions carried my backpack for me all day. People asked me how I was keeping going but my old boss at Titon Hardware was sponsoring me £2 a kilometre, so every step I was thinking ‘ha, that’s another £2’!
The trip was just absolutely phenomenal. And the heat… we were lucky we only had one small rain shower, but otherwise the weather was perfect the whole time. I’m scared of heights and there were a few moments where some of us had some serious tears because of the sheer drops, but we helped each other through.
My favourite day was the fourth day. We started off the morning in a really pretty little village and followed the Wall to a tower. I could see where we were going in the distance and I thought I’m never going to get there; surely we can’t walk all the way there. That was the longest day, but it was lovely. The views are just incredible. It was stunning. I just didn’t stop smiling.
It was an amazing experience. Everyone asks me what I am going to do next. Machu Picchu I think! A few people I met on this trip said in couple of years they might do it, so maybe we’ll do it together.
I wanted to do something in my gran’s memory, Sally Fisher. My granny stayed at the hospice for a short while 20 years ago, and I remember we had a big family birthday party for her in the lounge with lots of food and cake. She died three days after that. It was so nice that she had all her family with her.
I just loved my adventure and to be able to say I’ve raised £4,750 for St Helena Hospice through the amazing generosity of family, friends, people I work with at Cotherm UK... How generous and supportive people have been!
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
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The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
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Telephone: 01255 221 222
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