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Hiking Wilson’s Trail Section 2 (with a toddler)

It’s been cloudy in Hong Kong. Every day it threatens to rain but often it doesn’t. Sometimes we get a little sprinkle but not enough to cool down so that we can put on a rain jacket without perspiring into an internal puddle.

On a day like this, what better way to spend the day then escaping the city’s concrete caverns into the nearby mountains. Easily a degree or two cooler up there but that’s only down to 27 degrees Celsius. Still hot. It’s the wind that makes the difference, those cool gusts coming in from the ocean make it feel like 22 degrees Celsius. So refreshing.

So off we went on a hike. Small person insisted on wearing her pretty Natty dress, which I was quite sure wasn’t the best attire for the purpose but made nice photos. A cab up Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, dropping off at Tai Tam Country Park just outside Parkview Estate.

Map of Section 2 hike
The stair master began, gently at first while the forest still provided shelter but more intense on the shrub exposed Mount Butler approach.


Tribute to Major Osborn
The trail eased off towards to quarry and made for some amazing views to both right and left.

After we hiked up the side of the quarry, Parkview disappeared from view and we did a climb again to the top of another peak (sighted a battle-scarred lightning rod).

Descent to Quarry Bay / Kornhill
After that it was downward via a stairway that led more or less straight toward Quarry Bay/ Tai Koo Shing. Along here we saw the tall black antennas poking out towards the sky. The Mount Butler radio frequency receiving station covered an impressive site, many steel rods in vertical alignment supported by cables in all directions. Approximately (1) on map below

The descent soon brought us to the Quarry bay tree walk where we suddenly came upon a bamboo thicket lined with porcelain statues and a shrine to the Goddess of Mercy. Probably a place of prayer for those who perished in the area.

Kuan Yin in the jungle
Shortly thereafter, we saw old military installations such as food stores and cooking stoves. (2) on map below

Military Food Stores in JungleWartime stoves
I was surprised that the stoves were in such good condition, clearly built to withstand any kind of fire.
The wartime stovesFlowers in the stoves
Beautiful flowers had taken the place where furnaces would have burned hot. These flowers radiated such energy in their colour, contrasting from the uniform lush green surroundings.

The rest of the descent was very green and peaceful. Sounds of running water from brooks and waterfalls… and gradually more signs of human activity (BBQ sites, picnic areas).

Nature on Wilson trail section 2
Small person did quite well on the long uphill stair climbs, needing a hand hold all the way. I didn’t mind as some parts of the trail were unpaved or made of slippery stone, while other parts near the quarry were ravines and cliffs not to be trifled with. A slip in the wrong direction would have been certain disaster. Fortunately we managed to get her to cooperate and sit in the back carrier when she needed a rest. A fifteen minute nap, some snacks and she was awake again singing songs to her finger puppet.

Great scenes of nature, lots to see and talk about. But not for a toddler who wants to either take off without you or one that’s too heavy for you to carry for more than two hours. Unless you or your partner recently joined a weightlifting gym like my husband did.

Southorn Playground

The visitor demographics vary greatly hour to hour and certainly between weekdays and weekends. It’s almost always busy with people using it as a corridor from Hennessey road to Johnston road, bus stop to bus stop. They’ll cut across the courts if no games are on but otherwise will respectfully walk along the perimeter.

Map Southorn playground
On a usual weekday morning, several groups practice martial art sword or fan dancing exercises on the basketball courts and many elderly people come in wheelchairs with their caregivers to get some sunshine. The courts are usually relatively quiet in the mornings, some toddlers may be out practicing walking, tired parents in tow. Anytime before 12 noon is a good time to visit with kids, they’ll have full rein of the goal nets and its before direct sunlight hits the courts.

Around lunchtime, the crowd occupying the bleachers range from sales guys in suits eating a sandwich to domestic helpers having a break before their next appointment.

Southorn best enjoyed on weekdays
In the late afternoons, after school kids come in with their footballs or basketballs and some very energetic kicking starts. There’s even an older enthusiast who coaches kids between 6-10 years of age how to score a goal. Older guys take over the court from 6pm onwards and the mock battles begin. Games go in late into the night, often almost til 10 or 11pm. Everyone is welcome to sit and watch, as long as you don’t get in the way.

On weekends, it is crowded from dawn til dusk. Events are also held on the football courts with some regularity, usually for an educational purpose or community entertainment. Otherwise, footballers and basketball players and fans reign the court and bleachers. All non fans sit along the side on the ledges, chatting to each other or on the phone. If you have toddlers or young babies, I don’t recommend you take them there on weekends unless it’s very early in the morning, between 6-9am.

Present construction on the underground connector between Wan Chai MTR station and the Avenue is due to last until the end of 2016. The noise and dust was very severe at the start of this year but it’s become a little better as progress has been made. The bad news is they’ve acquired about half the basketball courts and completely removed the children’s playground.

Well, hopefully Hopewell (developer of the Avenue) will use some of its profits and windfall towards the installation of a fantastic playground. This will undoubtedly also benefit their development, and please their target customers, the young parenting community.

It is pram friendly, access from Johnston road near Tai Wong East Street or from Hennessey Road. There are public toilets here too if you need them but no one will mind if you do a quick diaper change on the stands.