Chinese officials are conceding mistakes in the smoothing over of a much-loved 700-year-old section of the Great Wall of China in the name of restoration.

The widely mocked project involves an 8-kilometer (5-mile) unrestored section of the wall on which visitors are technically forbidden to tread.

Defensive works and guard towers were knocked flat. Reports said sand and other materials were poured on top, protecting it from the elements but giving it the appearance of an elevated bike path.

The head of the Liaoning Provincial Antiquities Bureau, Ding Hui, was quoted by the newspaper Beijing Times on Wednesday as saying the work was completed two years ago over the course of three months as part of a government restoration plan. He conceded that "it really was an ugly repair job."