Outdoor Hong Kong (Part 4)

posted in: Hiking, Running | 4

We had some more Hong Kong adventures when we stopped there for a few days in January en route to New Zealand. The coolest thing was a 20km walk/run through the spectacular scenery of the Sai Kung Country Park, where it is hard to believe that one is just a few kilometres of a city of millions of people.

The day after landing we went for a walk with Lillian’s parents along the contour path/catchment channel from Wong Nai Chung Gap towards Repluse Bay, which we saw below us after about 3km.

Lillian and I then continued jogging to one of our favourite training climbs… the 959 steps up to The Twins. Actually the pace I went up it could not be accurately described as a jog. It was a thigh burner and I was very glad to reach the 959th step.

The 9 minutes up followed by an equally painful descent left us feeling wobbly-legged and in Lillian’s case so stiff that she was hobbling around for the rest of our time in Hong Kong. Cycling really does not condition the legs for going downhill. We only jogged 6km.

The next day we went to Victoria Peak and walked the small road (Lugard Road) that traverses around the mountain taking in the views of Hong Kong and Kowloon.

There are also some nice trees and flowers along its length.

We continued jogging along the Hong Kong Trail, a 50km marked trail that starts at The Peak.

Lillian realised her stiffness was not going to wear off so at the end of Stage 1 of the HK Trail we climbed back to The Peak by the steep Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road. The circuit is about 8km and is a great run if one is pressed for time.

The next day I headed off to Sai Kung Country Park on my own. The journey to the start of the walk was epic by Hong Kong standards. First the MTR to Choi Hung, then a bus to Sai Kung town then finally a taxi into the Country Park and to the start of my walk at Pak Tam Au (which is where the Maclehose Trail crosses the road to Hoi Ha). I found out from the taxi driver that buses and minibuses to Hoi Ha run on weekdays as well as on the weekend… useful to know for next time.

By jogging the flats and downhills and walking fast on the uphills I made good time heading east on the Maclehose trail which was, for that section, a concrete path. My plan was to walk up Sharp Peak, circle back along the Dai Long Wan beaches and then return to the road by the Sheng Luk Stream. (A map is at the end of this post.)

After an hour I was near the top of Sharp Peak where I met a friendly local dog.

He became even more friendly, although still a little jumpy, when I fed him some sausage from my Hong Kong style sausage roll (sweet bread containing a frankfurter) on the summit.

I hoped that would persuade him to follow me for the day but he must have thought there would be better pickings for him waiting on the summit. He was probably right on that count as there were other walkers behind me and moreover, aside from cereal bars, that was the last of my food.

The three Dai Long Wan beaches (Tung Wan, Dai Wan and Ham Tin Wan) from the top of Sharp Peak. I followed the left hand ridge iwhich gave great views of the beaches.

Looking back towards Sharp Peak from halfway along the ridge.

Selfie on the last summit on the ridge (Tung Wan Shan).

The first beach (Tung Wan) was deserted and pristine. I was suckered into scrambling along the rocky shore beyond it until eventually a big chasm forced me to bushwhack up to the path which (for future reference) must have left the beach before its end. The longest beach (Dai Wan) was empty save for a couple of surfers.

Looking back from Dai Wan at the way I had come. The ridge I followed is the skyline with Sharp Peak being on the left.

After another headland I came to Ham Tin where I stopped for some fried noodles.

This was in the first restaurant one comes to. It is closest to the ocean and has (at least) three lazy dogs. After lunch, I followed the coast path to the next bay, Sai Wan. This is the most developed of the bays being only a short walk from a road-head, but I never reached the village as I took a right hand turn as soon as I reached the stream emptying into the bay. This is the start of a fantastic scramble – the Sheng Luk Stream – which climbs up into the hills for 3km.

The above sign confirmed that the small path I was following did indeed lead somewhere. I originally discovered the stream with my dad and since then Lillian and I have followed it several times in the summer when it is a roaring torrent, hence the warning above. The many waterfalls and rock pools are welcome stops to cool off when it is hot and humid. On this trip the stream was just a trickle in places but the rock pools were still there though less inviting in the winter weather. Some good pictures of the stream in summer and winter are here: HK Adventurer.

The route finding is absorbing. Usually one can spot a ribbon tied to a tree marking the way upwards. Some scrambling skills and a head for heights are useful. At one or two points I had difficulty finding the route – it has been over 10 years since I last did it – which I will mention below as this might be useful for anyone attempting it.

After about 1km, you see a tall waterfall ahead of you (the Thousand Silk Falls). From a distance it looks very steep but it is actually an easy scramble (when it is dry at least) up the right hand side. At the top of the falls is a fenced-in reservoir. I made the mistake of following the left hand side of the river after this, and after some tricky traversing was forced to stop and wade across to the other side. So from the reservoir it is best to pick the right hand side.

This is after wading over. It is not very deep but I still managed to slip on the rocks and get a wet bum.

The stream crosses a major path near to where it says Luk Wu on the map below. This path is also a good way of accessing the river and makes it a shorter walk which still takes in most of the waterfalls… another of which soon follows.

Much higher up the river that is a round pool (Reindeer Pool), great for swimming in when it is hot.

From here a trail with a handrail made of blue rope leads steeply uphill to the right. This is not the way up the stream though it may be an alternative exit route.

The final tall waterfall (Well Bottom Fall) is passed on the right through a path in the jungle and from the top offers a view of the pools below and in the far distance the sea.

The path deposits you in a gorge from which it appears there is no way out.

No way out unless you like climbing slippery wet rock.

I had to go back and forth a couple of times until I noticed a steep exit on the left hand side ‘equipped’ with some tatty pieces of climbing tape.

After this the path crosses the stream a final time and heads north until it meets the Luk Wu Hiking Trail which leads westwards back to the Hoi Ha road. After catching a minibus back to Sai Kung town, I finished the day with beer on the seafront.

In total the walk/jog was 20k with about 1000m of ascent taking about 4 hours moving time. The stream took me about 1 hour 15 minutes but if it were full of water it would be slower and if one stopped to swim in the rock pools (recommended in the summer) it could take all day. As HK Adventurer (in the link above) says, “Sheung Luk Stream is an excellent stream in Hong Kong. It is ever beautiful and attractive. Nobody would challenge about this fact.” In short, an amazing gorge walk.

I marked the route on the photo of the map below with blue dots. I am not 100% sure where the section of the river above Luk Wu is but once you are in the river valley it is generally obvious which stream to follow.

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