Shentangyu

Chinese: 神堂峪
Pinyin: Shén táng yù
English: Shen tang valley
Coordinates: 40°25'23"N 116°37'46"E

Shentangyu is an excellent place for a memorable day trip to the Wild Great Wall from Beijing. It is also suitable for an overnight trip. Shentangyu is a popular place for tourists and vacationers as well as Great Wall enthusiasts. There are many guest houses and fish farm restaurants along the road.

Shentangyu is just about a 30-minute drive from the Huairou urban area. From Highway 111 you turn to the left just before Yanqi Lake and follow the winding road through the mountains. There is a turnoff to the right which is marked Shentangyu (神堂峪). The location where the Great Wall crosses the road is actually Guandi village (官地村, Guān dì cūn), on the way to Shentangyu.

Shentangyu, and several locations to its west, features fish farms restaurants which are very popular with Beijing residents and tourists alike. They offer mountain trout, and sometimes additional fish as well. They are kept in pools and you can choose to catch one yourself or have one caught for you. These restaurants offer good food in a beautiful setting, and when the weather is good they are very busy.

Shentangyu also has several guest houses where you can stay for a very reasonable price. Also at Shentangyu is one luxury resort hotel, the Red Capital Ranch. This very nice hotel offers a wide variety of accommodation types along with excellent food and service. This hotel, along with one other hotel at Shuiguan Great Wall in Yanqing County, Beijing Province, is among the best hotels located at the Great Wall.

The Great Wall has not been restored at all here since it was built in the Ming Dynasty. As is often the case, the lowest parts are highly deteriorated, but the other parts are in quite good shape.

The easiest place to get on the wall is on the west side. The entrance is easy to find because the bottom tower is very prominent and the entrance point is almost directly below it (but slightly further to the south). There is a short concrete wall that you can follow up to a foot path that leads to the tower. From here you can follow the highly deteriorated wall to the next tower. From this second tower, you can continue up the mountain to the next tower, but the wall is so badly deteriorated here that at times it's hard to tell that it was once there. There are steep parts of the path where steps have been carved into the rock. Soon you will see an older wall that goes to your left (south) along the ridge. This wall is possible to follow if you wish, but it ends at a cliff and you will need to turn around and return to the point where you began.

The wall continues to the west and goes all the way to Lianhuachi, a path of about 6.4 kilometers (4 miles). Be aware, however, that the wall is made of loose and slippery stone in this stretch. Nearing Lianhuachi, there is a stretch with no wall at all and it's necessary to climb over rocks for a while.

Shentangyu eastern ridge (right) and spur wall (left)

On the east side, there is a main wall, which follows the ridge and ends at the top of a small mountain near the road, and a spur wall that starts from the main wall and goes directly down the side of the mountain further north. The spur wall is reasonably easy to access and climb. The main wall is difficult to reach by any other way. To reach the spur wall, you must first cross a stream. I found two options for doing so. The first option is to use the bridge on the private property of the Red Capital Ranch. The second way is to take a path from the road further north and use a series of stones across the river. Either way you cross the stream, you then walk alongside its east side until you reach the entrance to the Great Wall. From here, there are trails up to the first tower. The final approach to this tower is steep rock climbing, and it can be slippery if it has rained recently, so be prepared. From the first tower to the second tower, the climbing is pretty easy although there is heavy brush on the wall with just a narrow path which is often right at the unprotected edge of the wall. A short distance after the second tower, the wall becomes more steep and right before the point where it joins the top, main wall, it is quite steep, and many bricks are loose, so be careful. The top wall is known as Shentangling (神堂岭, Shén táng lǐng) and it follows a very steep ridge. Its condition varies from place to place. Once you reach this wall and again take in a fabulous view, you can proceed to the right (southwest) for a short distance along the top of a very steep ridge, or to the left (northwest) towards Hefangkou for a short distance before it ends. While the Great Wall is more or less continuous for this span, it's a very precipitous area and climbing in many places is very challenging.

The Great Wall on Shentangyu's west side

The other (and more difficult) way to reach the Shentangling wall on the east side is to cross a low and wide bridge further to the south next to some fish farm restaurants. You can then follow an old, switchback path to almost all the way to the top of the ridge. This path ends very near the top and it is quite easy to follow. At the end of the path, you can find a trail to the left (north) that leads to the top of the ridge. This trail is hard to follow because of steep rock climbing and heavy vegetation, so be prepared if you intend to take this route. From the top of this path, you will enjoy a good view into a small Ming Dynasty fortress almost directly to the south. This fortress is not open to the public but it's interesting to see from the outside.

Location summary: Shentangyu is about 61 kilometers (38 miles) north of downtown Beijing. It is about 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles) west of Hefangkou and about 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles) southeast of Lianhuachi.

Driving directions: From Kaifang Road in the Huairou urban area, go north on G111 for about 7 kilometers (4.35 miles). Turn left onto the Fanqi Highway and continue north for about 8 kilometers (5 miles). Turn right and drive about 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) to Guandi Village at Shentangyu.

Shentangyu Great Wall photos

Start of trail

Start of trail (40°25'22.7"N 116°37'47.6"E)

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Side of the Wall between towers 2 and 3 viewed from the south.
It's built at the top of a cliff so it didn't need to be very high.

An even earlier Great Wall, possibly from the Northern Qi Dynasty (40°25'16"N 116°37'24"E)

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Inside of a watch tower

Inside of a watch tower

Well-preserved area

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangling Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

West towers 3, 4, and 5

View of Shentangyu Great Wall eastern side photographed from 40°25'15"N 116°37'52"E

Shentangling (神堂岭) is the ridge to the east of Shentangyu.

Thanks to the nice people at Red Capital Ranch for calling off the dogs and allowing me to cross their private estate (and the river) to reach this section of the Great Wall at Guan Di village near Shentangyu even though I did not stay at their excellent facility.

Shentangyu Red Capital Ranch

Shentangyu Red Capital Ranch

Shentangyu Red Capital Ranch

Shentangyu Red Capital Ranch

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu Great Wall

Shentangyu fortress

Inside of the Shentangyu Fortress, September, 2008

Inside of the Shentangyu Fortress, September, 2010

Shentangyu Great Wall map

I wanted to start by walking to the end of the little spur, but I decided not to ruin this fellow's day by wrecking the web he'd spun right across it:

Instead I followed the wall uphill towards this tower:

Passing this on the way:

And this one:

Before you reach that higher tower, you need to negotiate some tricky terrain (although there is a path). Coming down this was easier than it looks but the little cord/rope thing was helpful. I didn't trust it to take my whole weight so I shimmied down on my feet, feet first, and used this for stability with my left hand.

After that you climb up a steep bit, which I actually chose to detour and just go along the rocky ridge instead. Then you get to here:

And of course looking back south you see the city of Huairou right in front of you and Beijing beyond.

Re: Shentangyu Great Wall review

Following this review, I went to Shentangyu this weekdend, from A point to west , I had passed 7 castles until met dangerous road where there is no general way to pass, finally, I had to down to other side of GW close to the Mutianyu.

There are 4-5 castles in front of No 8 castle in my view. Hope I can find way passing No 8 castle next time.

That tower is on the other side of this mini mountain. Around this spot, you are still on a path but you are at the approximate border to the next section, Hefangkou.

In the little saddles they took the trouble to built small stretches of wall. Nothing if not thorough!