(Sept 2017) The pollution was bad for the last week in Hong Kong. Two typhoons threatened to come but dissipated to the South and North respectively.
We decided to go on a leisurely family paced hike from Parkview down to Quarry Bay. The incentive? Lunch at the end of the journey. This walk isn’t the most scenic or spectacular, but it is all paved and mostly shaded, which makes it a good walk with kids. It’s downhill, uphill, downhill and round several bends. There’s lots of spiders and bugs to look at along the way but no toilets til you get to the summit. Bring water and snacks for the kids so that they don’t complain too much along the way and get a power (sugar) boost if necessary.
The view gets a little more scenic once you’ve reached the summit and start to head back down the hill towards Quarry Bay. The path is a proper road that’s wide and not too steep.
Half way down, the exposed bits of path allow you a view towards the big buildings and beyond. It would have been a better view if it weren’t for the pollution.
As it was a sunny sort of day, I was grateful that the shade from trees resumed after a few minutes for the rest of the hike.
On the way, you’ll walk past the Biodiversity museum. The gates were open and it seemed like there was an event of some sort taking place, but I didn’t go in. If you go, please let me know what it’s like inside.
Further down the path, look out for some amusing signs.
This sign says “Do not Pick wild mushrooms for consumption”
This one says “Be considerate to speak softly”
Just so you know, I didn’t see any wild animals or wild mushrooms that day. I did look, but they must have been picked or fed already.
Pretty soon, you’re back in civilisation and the residential homes are in view.
A small temple at the end of the path marks the end of the trail and the start of hustle bustle Quarry Bay.
We went up over the overhead bridge, across the road and to the right. Take the left at the second traffic junction you come to and follow the road down and rojndcto the right. We ended up at the Butcher’s Club opposite Swire’s swanky office building for a hearty lunch of burgers and duck fat fries.
This walk takes approximately 2 hours at an adult leisure walking pace, add an hour if you’re bringing toddlers who wish to inspect every insect they see.
It’s getting quite warm now in Hong Kong so hikes need to be done early in the morning or on a cloudy day. On Sunday morning we got bounced out of bed for a hike up to Violet Hill at 7.30am.
We got the taxi to drop us off at Wong Nai Chung reservoir, which is on the left of the road towards Parkview. From there, walk around the reservoir’ path (stop to look at the terrapins in the water if you wish) and follow it to the steps just beyond. This is the trailhead.
It starts off nice and green. You will see the steps amidst all the foliage.
After a few minutes uphill, we came across a rest hut. Stop here if you need to catch your breath. But there isn’t much to see so the girls decided it was best to carry on.
Up and up the steps, very quickly we were up looking over the buildings.
And the foliage gradually changes.
There’s a mild uphill for a bit on a meandering path. Walk slowly here to admire some flora.
This walk has some unpaved bits, but it’s not hard for children. We had an 8 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 4 year-old and an 8 month-old with us (in a sling).
Spot the flowers and bush fruits on the walk, keep your eyes open as there really aren’t many of them. The flowers are often found low to the ground, easier for pollination by crawling insects.
There were also a few fungal fruiting bodies among the dead leaves. Not sure if any of these are edible so please leave them where they are.
Then up a long stairway into the mist.
On the way, look out for bamboo sprouting their new shoots, beautiful stars on a trajectory. I think each little star can become a bamboo plant.
After another bit of foliage, you get to the trigonometry point.
Well, trigonometry points usually have views but it was a very misty day and we couldn’t see anything beyond 20 feet. So after a brief hangout, a bit of orange eating, water drinking and sitting on the trig base, it was time to continue.
Then it was downhill on a dirt path, a little rocky but nothing a four year old in a dress couldn’t handle.
You can see the wonderful view I had. White mist..! The bright side of it is that there was a fantastic breeze and so so cool. For anyone with acrophobia, it’s the perfect day to go hiking. Couldn’t make out the ravines at all.
Subsequently, it was a bit flat then a slightly rocky uphill again.
Along this path, there were some interesting objects and flowers.
Then the uphill ended at an intersection, whereupon we went towards Parkview.
After a short flat open path, it was downhill again, we met our first big group of hikers coming the other way. We stopped briefly to let them pass.
The slope became flat and open again. We saw a mango tree in bloom, a small centipede and a tree that was devoid of leaves and possibly dead.
About 5 minutes after that we went past some huge rocks and got to some stairs leading down.
We descended down into a paved path and a long stairway which put us on the main road just outside Parkview.
You might like to use this ordinance map to get a feel for the terrain. I’d highly recommend it for kids 3 and above. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the circuit (maybe 2 if your kids keep stopping to check out the views or dig for quartz).
We had two appointments on a sunny Saturday. First, a brunch at a friend’s house in Parkview at 11am then a 3pm play date at the Hong Kong Jockey Club club house in Happy Valley.
We left Parkview at 2pm and our Parkview host suggested that we could get to Happy Valley via a trail. As we had an hour, bright sunny weather and it was largely downhill, I agreed to give it a try.
First we did a short steep uphill from just outside Parkview’s entrance. Two stone cubes mark the start of the trail.
Then you’ll see some steps with a trail signboard.
This one indicates you’re on a hiking trail.
Immediately, we entered a nicely shaded path that had railings on one side and a water pipe on stilts beside a ravine.
Continuing along the trail, there were trail markers and distance posts which told us we weren’t lost. I saw several caves leftover from the war that were not in good repair, partly collapsed and covered in shrubs. It was interesting to see, photos didn’t come out well though.
There were some beautiful views along the way when the path twisted along exposed mountainside.
Then we came to a proper map and information board. We then got a better idea of exactly where we were.
More shaded walking after that along leaf strewn narrow pathways that only fit us in single file.
Subsequent to the sign post above, it was gradual downhill stairs pretty much all the way.
The gradual stairway led to a covered reservoir with a lookout point. This was Jardine’s lookout. It was very exposed and the grass looked rather burnt so we didn’t linger long.
The next part of the trail was part shaded but with very steep uneven stairs and low hanging branches.
The descent then got rather exposed toward Happy Valley, with bigger and more numerous pipes visible.
The trail ends by a small Towngas supply station.
The trail ends at Tai Hang Road.
We crossed over to Green Lane and walked down the sidewalks to the Hong Kong Jockey Clubhouse.
It was a good downhill walk, good to check that your thighs and knees are in good shape. I would recommend doing this walk only when it’s dry… There is no shade from rain and the paths could get slippery.
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.
The stair master began, gently at first while the forest still provided shelter but more intense on the shrub exposed Mount Butler approach.
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).
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.
Shortly thereafter, we saw old military installations such as food stores and cooking stoves. (2) on map below
I was surprised that the stoves were in such good condition, clearly built to withstand any kind of fire.
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).
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.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty