Great hiking weather in Hong Kong at the moment, so I skipped a dive and went walking instead. Our plan was to walk stage 1 and 2 of the Wilson Trail.
Stage 1 of the Wilson Trail starts just north of Stanley on Stanley Gap Road and you kick off with a climb up the first of the Twins (for Cantopop fans, this one must be Charlene as it’s a bit taller than Gillian). It’s described as very difficult. After the Twins, you climb Violet Hill before dropping down to Parkview where the stage ends. We had a lovely cloudless day and from the second of the Twins, we had a great view of the trail ahead.
Stage 2 starts at Parkview and goes up over Jardine’s Lookout, down and then up the side of the quarry, before turning left and gradually heading downhill to Kornhill. Jardine’s Lookout has some great views over Hong Kong. As you start climbing up to it just after leaving Parkview is a plaque to Sgt. Major John Robert Osborn of the 1st Battalion, The Winnipeg Volunteers, Canadian Army. During the defence of Hong Kong against the Japanese he was killed very near to the spot where the plaque is. He was awarded a Victoria Cross, and part of the citation reads:
Several enemy grenades were thrown which Company Sergeant-Major Osborn picked up and threw back. The enemy threw a grenade which landed in a position where it was impossible to pick it up and return it in time. Shouting a warning to his comrades this gallant Warrant Officer threw himself on the grenade which exploded killing him instantly. His self-sacrifice undoubtedly saved the lives of many others.
You can read the full citation and find out more about him on Wikipedia.
That’s not the only evidence of the war on this section of the trail. Just after climbing the hill by the quarry we came across a boarded up tunnel, but we were able to climb around the boards and since we had torches, we ventured inside. Fairly quickly the tunnel split with a left hand branch running parallel with the contour of the hill. There was another smaller exit, then the roof dropped down a bit, so rather than crawl along the floor we turned our attention to the main branch which had headed straight on. This got a bit narrow, but went for about 40 yards before coming out on the other side of the hillside in a wooded area. Presumably the tunnels were left from the war, but whether they were built by the British or the Japanese is not clear.
Towards the end of stage 2, the trail goes past 2 outdoor kitchens with several rows of stoves. In 1941 Shau Kei Wan was a densely populated area in Hong Kong, and these cooking areas were built to cater for large numbers of people in case of Japanese invasion. However they were never used as Hong Kong fell relatively quickly. It now looks as though some people have turned them into a flower garden, with some nice flowers, and even a cactus, growing in the old stoves.
Stage 1 is 4.8km long and took us 1 hour 55 minutes.
Stage 2 is 6.6km if you go all the way to Yau Tong (via the MTR). If you stop at Kornhill like we did it’s about 4.5km and it took us 2 hours 20 minutes, although that does include the tunnel detour. Temperature: 16-17C. Humidity: 40%.