Most Inspirational Moment
The highlight was undoubtedly the sections at Jiankou and Panlongshan, really beautiful and well away from the crowds. They were also the most steep and challenging, but eminently doable if you have a reasonable level of fitness - you get to challenge yourself and work as a group.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Jack was lovely, he was helpful and considerate and looked after us really well. He sorted out little extras like a Kung Fu show, tea ceremony, paper cutting and even making dumplings at a homestay. He even arranged for us to have a Chinese massage in our hotel, which helped with our stiff legs!
Advice for Potential Travellers
There's lots to see in Beijing in the free time available and the subway is very easy to use (in English as a well as Chinese) so don't duplicate what you'll see on day 9.
As a vegetarian I found the food better than I expected but not always very substantial. I was never hungry but ate a lot of cabbage, spinach or courgette with rice. By the last day of walking I felt quite tired and came back 1 kg lighter than I arrived. It's not a problem but do consider taking some protein bars, nuts etc. for a bit of a boost. Food at the Mutianyou homestay was the best with lots of good and varied veggie options.
You won't be able to access Google, Twitter, BBC or the Guardian but we found that WhatsApp worked (though not for photos) and we managed to keep up with the news headlines as much as we wanted.
The itinerary didn't seem to match what we did - the distances were significantly shorter than indicated on a couple of days.
We did the Xi'an extension and enjoyed seeing a contrasting city (which did feel quite different). The train ride there was fun and comfortable. Our guide Mrs Ling was informative and an interesting contrast to Jack. The Terracotta Army is well worth seeing but be prepared for some jostling by the crowds. We had a dumpling banquet at a very touristy place but the food was good - choose the veggie ones - they were very tasty and beautifully presented!