Two British brothers have recreated their father’s epic trip along the Great Wall of China 35 years after he became the first foreigner to do it.
William Lindesay’s 1987 expedition faced numerous hardships, including being deported and then returning to finish the trip.
Now – more than three decades later -his two sons, Jimmy, 28, and Tommy, 21, have retraced his journey in a 131-day odyssey on the 2,000-mile run.
They set off in midsummer and ended in midwinter travelling from the Great Wall outpost of Jiayuguan in Gansu Province in the west to Shanhaiguan, where the wall meets the ocean at Old Dragon’s Head and is the most easterly section.
They even made sure they visited the same local families their father met but had to negotiate COVID restrictions on the way.
They finally celebrated the end of the trip with pizza and whisky.
Their dad had made the trip unaided and relied on locals to provide a place to stay and supplies.
He was arrested several times and also deported but he simply organised a new passport and then returned.
He later went on to become one of the world’s leading experts on the Great Wall and passed on his knowledge to his sons.
When the brothers repeated the run, they admitted that their father had a much harder time. He did not speak the language and the country was not as accessible to foreigners as it is now.
Tommy explained: “We understand a lot about how things work, which made it easier, and speak the language pretty fluently.”
There’s a have the advantage of a two-vehicle support group which meant they had the luxury of being able to camp out and also face surprising difficulties in areas where locals had put up barriers to stop outsiders coming onto their land.
When that happened, the brothers climbed over and sprinted through the territory anyway, although their support vehicles often needed to make a long detour, in one case lasting up to nine hours.
For training, they took a run across Hadrian’s Wall in the UK.
Despite its huge length not all of the great wall is the brick image people usually think of and in some places, it is no more than an earth pile.
Although often seen covered in tourists, for the journey they often found places where there was nobody and one day walked the entire day through 40 watchtowers without seeing a soul.
When they got to the end, they were met by their dad and celebrated with pizza, watching the World Cup football game and several glasses of single malt Scotch whisky.
Dad William said: “People ask me if I ever got lost when I did the run, and I say I was always lost! It is only when I got to bigger places that I knew where I was.
“They have confounded me in their ability to do the mileage day after day and to avoid injury, and also the creative ways they went round obstacles and talked their way through certain situations.
“In 1987, it was the challenge of China being closed to foreigners. Ironically, 35 years later, the whole of China was closed to foreigners and Chinese.”