My Great Wall Story (See Journeys for more detail)
As I boy, aged 11, I saw the Great Wall marked on a map of China. A run along Hadrian’s Wall brought it back into my thoughts, in 1984, just as China was re-opening to the world. I went to China in 1986 and became the most successful foreign explorer of the monument by experiencing its ruins on foot for a distance of 2470 kms.
I wrote my first Great Wall book, Alone of the Great Wall, in 1988, and then returned to China from Britain in 1990, to settle there, to be at the Wall. Since then I have spent more than 2,300 days on different parts of the ‘Great Walls of China’ — for there are many, built by different dynasties.
Along the way I’ve written five books, published by various presses, including Oxford University Press, Harvard University Press and Penguin. I’ve invoked a new era of Great Wall conservation, awakened the Chinese consciousness to protect its monumental historical landscape, introduced new terms into the language of Great Wall studies, evidenced the existence of a previously-unknown dynastic Great Wall, created and curated seven exhibitions in China, and presented several documentaries for international broadcasters including National Geographic, Discovery, Channel 4 and Smithsonian.
Since 1997 I have presented the Great Wall story ‘live on site’, the way I have discovered it, to travellers visiting China, residents living here and students studying here.
In the pages of this website you can read about my milestone journeys, and not only appreciate the Great Wall as a world wonder, but take the initial steps towards experiencing it for yourself with me and my family in one of our Wall-side properties.