On Sunday 18 Januuary, we set off from Admiralty at just after 11am, changed trains at TST to the KCR or whatever MTR are calling it these days. We got off at Tai Po Market and switched to the 275R bus to Bride’s Pool. No brides, but a bunch of chatty girls from the Philippines who were heading for a barbecue. On the way up we got some good views of the hill fire raging up on Pat Sin Leng. There was a helicopter water bombing it, and apparently there were 120 firemen up there battling it at one point. It’s a good job we weren’t doing stage 9 of the Wilson trail this week.
We were walking at 12:30, and after one wrong turning, a bit of down and a bit of up, we made our way to Wu Kau Tang where we turned right towards Sam A Chung. There are a number of abandoned houses close to the path, which have been left pretty much as they were. The odd window is broken and all the contents are covered with a thick layer of dust. Further along were some more abandoned houses, but these looked older, were built of stone and were being reclaimed by nature. Abandoned houses and villages were going to become a bit of a theme of this hike.
From Wu Kau Tang to Sam A Chung the track goes along a fairly level valley with hills on either side. There was some evidence of hill fires along these hillsides so it’s clearly been a dry few months. Sam A Chung has a campsite and some lovely views of Yan Chau Tong (Double Haven), which is a marine park. We used to dive there regularly on the artificial reefs – several ships were sunk there partly as a marine habitat and I suspect partly to try and block the trawlers that used to swing through there at night when no-one was looking. The wrecks do have extensive fishing nets on them, but they used to be extremely good dives. Visibility was never that good, but the fish life was prolific. Sadly there was a toxic algae bloom a few years ago that killed off all the life on the wrecks and led to the fish leaving. It also left them even more silty than they had been before. We do try them occasionally but there is no sign of them improving.
From Sam A Chung we headed north to Sam A Tsuen. We took a slight detour to see a row of half a dozen old houses, which have also been abandoned. Some of them were quite large and one had a large kitchen with a large oven, plus a huge wok and space for another, as if it was some sort of local eatery. One of the places even had what looked like a rice threshing machine in it.
From here we went north-west to Lai Chi Wo, where there are some really nice trees in the coastal area. Recently a boardwalk nature trail has been built there with descriptions of some of the plants and animals you might see. There is a ferry pier here and it is quite a popular place, as it is a very well-preserved, and still inhabited, Hakka village. Sadly we didn’t have time to explore the village this time.
Instead we turned right and before long we were climbing to get over a headland to So Lo Pun. From there it was up a steep, wooded hillside past another abandoned village – this one quite a large village with even the remains of a children’s climbing frame. Above the village we came across and old water tank, and kept going up. Bizzarely, despite having done this walk several times before, Trevor didn’t remember walking up this hill, although he did remember walking down it.
Eventually we came to Yung Shue Au is another large abandoned village along the waterfront. We found a path leading up yet another hill which finally brought us out with a view over Yantian, which has grown into a large container port. Perhaps in a sign of the economic times, there were only 3 ships there.
To the left of Yantian was an unexpected sight – an aircraft carrier! This was the Minsk, which served in the Soviet and Russian navies between 1978 and 1994. In 1995 she was bought by a South Korean businessman and later resold to a Chinese company. She became the centrepiece of a military theme park in Shenzhen.
We turned left along Starling Inlet towards Kuk Po, and finally on to Luk Keng. From there we got a minibus to Fanling KCR station, which took us back for a good meal at the Chili Club in Wanchai.
This is one of my favourite walks in Hong Kong with a huge variety of different things to see. Some good views, some historic villages, and to finish off with – an aircraft carrier!
Distance: Approx 18km. Time: 5 hours. Temperature 21-23C. Humidity: 75%.