William Lindsay - Working on Great Wall Protection after Trekking

Half a century ago, a boy had never thought that a childhood dream would drive him to go on a trek on the Great Wall and pick up litter on the Wall for 22 years. This boy was later known as William Lindsay, a British citizen dedicated years to the Great Wall of China. In 1987, he finished the hike on the entire Great Walk from Jiayuguan to Shanhaiguan, which lasted about 160 days. After the trek, he devoted himself to the protection of Great Wall and met by the premier of China at that time and the Queen Elizabeth II for his outstanding contribution to the Great Wall.
William Lindsay, Chairman of of "Friends of the Great Wall", picks up litter on the Great Wall
William Lindsay, Chairman of of
"Friends of the Great Wall",
picks up litter on the Great Wall

William Lindsay's childhood dream of visiting the Great Wall

William Lindsay had strong interest in the Great Wall since he was young. When in primary school, he loved studying worldwide maps and the saw-tooth line on maps caught his eyes. He made up his mind to visit the line, that is, the Great Wall of China.

William Lindsay hiked the entire Great Wall in 1987

Driven by this dream, William Lindsay set off for his Great Wall journey in 1984. However, he obviously underestimated the difficulties. Only a few days later, he became ill and had to suspend the plan. Later on, he left China sorrowfully because of the failure. After returning to his home country, Lindsay began to take more exercise and improve photography skills. He even learned some basic Chinese from a local Chinese restaurant.

With full preparation, Lindsay finally started the trip again in 1987. He spent about 160 days hiking from Jiayuguan Pass to Shanhaiguan Pass on the Great Wall. But this tall man hit trouble when he walked alone the Yulin Great Wall in northern Shaanxi Province while taking pictures, which attracted local villagers' attention. "What is he doing here? Where is he from?" They wondered. Finally, police came to investigate his motive behind his seemingly weird behavior. He explained and showed his love for the Wall, but in vain. At last, he could do nothing but leave.

No one can stop a willing heart. Though in low mood, Lindsay determined to carry on the walk. He continued the trek from Dongsheng City in Inner Mongolia and eventually arrived at Shanhaiguan, the commonly recognized eastern end of the Great Wall.

William Lindsay devoted himself to Great Wall protection after the trek

After the entire trip, Lindsay had a deeper understanding of the Great Wall and its surrounding geographic environment. “The Great Wall is absolutely the most breathtaking architecture in human history. I’m going to dedicate my life to it”. From then on, he began to partake in the Great Wall protection activities. In 1988, he organized over 120 volunteers from all over the world to pick up litter on the Great Wall. They collected more than 150 bags of trash merely between Jinshanling Great Wall and Simatai Great Wall. In 2000, Lindsay set up an environmental protection base near the Jiankou Great Wall and employed six villagers to collect trash along the Great Wall. Lindsay knew it was impossible to collect all the trash on the Great Wall by themselves. Therefore, he gave lectures around the country and encouraged more people to take part in this undertaking. In 2001, he established the international association "Friends of the Great Wall". With his efforts, the association now owned over 50 members and the volunteers picking up litter on the Great Wall summed up to over one thousand.

Lindsay won honors for the Great Wall protection career

Due to his contribution to protecting the Great Wall, William Lindsay was awarded the "Friendship Honorary" by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, P.R. China. In 1998, Zhu Rongji, the Chinese Premier at that time, gave him an interview. In 2006, he received the Order of the British Empire and was interviewed by the British Queen Elizabeth II, honoring his effort in protecting the Great Wall as well as in promoting the cultural relationship between China and Great Britain. In Aug. 5, 2007, Lindsay received another honor, the title of "Honorary Citizen of Yulin City". He is greatly encouraged by these awards from China and Britain and will carry on his contribution to Great Wall protection.

Romantic Love between Lindsay and his Chinese wife

During Lindsay’s Great Wall hike, he met with his Miss Right, a Chinese girl from Xi’an. Lindsay’s pure affection for the Great Wall touched the girl, and they fell in love with each other. In 1988, they got married. Inspired by Lindsay’s spirit, his wife and two sons also joined the group of protecting the Great Wall. Lindsay said, he would spend his remaining years in China for family and the Great Wall.

 Read stories of others who have walked the entire Great Wall of China:
 William Edgar Geil - The First One Hiked the Entire Great Wall of China: He took 3 months and finished in 1908.
 Dong Yaohui Hiked the Entire Great Wall: He took 508 days and completed on September 24, 1985
 Liu Yutian – the First Person Hiked the Great Wall Alone: He took 2 years and finished on April 5, 1986.
 Sally - the Only Woman Walked the Entire Great Wall of China Alone: She took half a year to hike in 1990.
 Ren Erlin & Ren Zigeng – Chinese Father and Son Trekked the Great Wall: They took 89 days and finished the hiking in 2003.
 Jamie Bradish & Rob England - a US Pair Took 10 Months to Walk the Great Wall: They finished in 2007.
 Stephen Robert Loken – the First Person Walked to the East End of Hushan Great Wall: He took 601 days and completed in 2011.

  Further Reading:
How to Hike the Full Length of the Great Wall of China? 8,851.8 km!
How Long to Walk the Great Wall of China?
Has anyone walked the Great Wall of China?
- Last updated on Jun. 10, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on William Lindsay - Working on Great Wall Protection after Trekking
Asked by Abel P. de Vries from NETHERLANDS | Feb. 05, 2012 06:25Reply
I am very much interested in FengShui in relation to the Great Wall.
I visited Badaling in 2010 and was very impressed. My wife is a Feng Shui professional author and teacher of FengShui. Both me, being an architect in the Netherlands, and my wife Nina Elshof are very interested in how FengShui was used in building the wall. Can you give us some specific information on the subject?
Abel P. de Vries architect BNA
Answers (1)
Answered by emma | Feb. 05, 2012 22:16

No reliable information on that subject as I know. Old feng shui maters believed mountain ranges resembling dragon and called dragon pulse. Kunlun Mountain was said to the source of China's dragon pulse. There was a saying that a dynasty had its own dragon pulse. The great Wall was built on ridge of mountains, which was not good for the dragon pulse, meaning the future development of the empire. The construction of the wall was built for a lie. Qin Shi Huang sent people to the East Sea for prescription of longevity and got an enlightenment that Hu would destroy Qin. Qin Shi Huang though Hu mean Hu people, referring to the huns at that time. So, he send the army to hit Hun and built the walls. Later his son Hu Hai killed his eldest son, Fu Su, and became the second emperor of Qin. Qin finally lost by Hu Hai, so people said that the 'Hu' should mean Hu Hai. Some people believed the dragon pulse of Qin was in Xianyang, its capital. So, the walls were built to keep down the dragon pulse who might threaten the Qin, in this case?! I would belive the wall was build for the need of defence.
Asked by Mr.peter gill from USA | Apr. 30, 2011 20:44Reply
Bricks and bridges of the Great Wall.
How heavy were the bricks that had to be carried up the mountains? Also where is the very long rope bridge that crosses one of the gorges.
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr.Qi | May. 01, 2011 22:19

Yes, there was long rope cross the gorge or castles. People also used animals, such as donkey, sheep, etc, tools like big basket, crowbar, wooden vehicle, etc.
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