A Past Adventure – The Sharp Island Geopark in 2016

Introduction

In the summer of 2016, long before the creation of Stewart Goes Walkies, we decided to visit the Sharp Island Geopark, which lies just off Sai Kung.

Getting there

As we were coming from Tai Po we took the MTR into Shatin and the 299X KMB Bus. This is a convenient route that goes from the Shatin Bus Terminus to Sai Kung.

From Sai Kung, Sharp island is easily accessible by a 10-15 minute Kaido (boat) ride. You can purchase tickets from any one of the operators along the Sai Kung waterfront. Most of them have “Sharp Island”, “Kiu Tsui”, or “Hap Mun Bay” on their boards.

The Geopark

The Geopark is a volcanic rock region located on a small island which is connected to Sharp Island by a sand levee. When we visited if was only passable when the tide was low so you had to time your visits accordingly. Today, however, they have built up the levee so it is more accessible. It has been designated a UNESCO Global Geopark.

The Levee as it might have looked on the day of our visit, and…
…the reinforced levee as it looks today.

Once across the levee you are greeted by this sign

There is a short but strenuous climb to the highest point on the island and from there you have the choice of descending the way you came or following a path down to the rocky coast.

After spending some time at the highest viewpoint we decided to descend the way we had come and made our way back across the levee.

Once back on Sharp Island you can find shops and stalls selling refreshments. We enjoyed a cold drink while waiting for Kaido to take us back to Sai Kung.

 

Conclusions

It was a pleasant day out. The transportation getting to and from Sharp Island is easy and regular. And, you also have the benefits of being able to explore Sai Kung and enjoying one or more seafood restaurants. And of course, today you have the added convenience and security of the reinforced levee.

Further information on the Geopark may be found here.

Getting home is a simple matter of finding the correct bus from the Sai Kung Terminus to suit your travel requirements.

 

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can send it to stewartgoeswalkies@gmail.com

Help us to make a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Don’t buy drinking water in plastic bottles when it’s easy to bring it from home. Let’s work together to save the planet.

 

 

 

 

A Visit to Rouge National Urban Park

Introduction

Stewart Goes Walkies is pleased to have another contribution from our old friend Allen. As mentioned previously, Allen lives in Toronto and is fortunate to have access to some of the most beautiful walks in the country. He relates his adventures on one of those walks.

The weather in Toronto is definitely more like summer (writes Allen). The temperature is going up to the 30s. And it’s just beautiful being outside.

I promised my buddy, Stewart, to write something about my trip to the Middle East (which we are really looking forward to – SGW). But, as I started putting things together, I then realized there’s so much more than the photos I took. I have to thank Stewart for encouraging me to record my journeys, as it helps me to do more research into places that I visited.

Before that, maybe I can share a half-day hike in my backyard – Rouge National Urban Park.  I don’t really like hiking in Toronto, as there are no mountains. When you hike in the woods, every corner you turn, you see the same thing –  trees, leaves, and more trees. But Rouge Park is different.

It’s only a five-minute drive from my condo. Yet it’s the largest Urban Park in North America. To give a comparison. When fully established, the park will span 79.1 square kilometers, whereas HK island, where Stewart is based, is 78.6 sq. kilometers. It has the highest point in Toronto. On a good day, some said we might even look across Lake Ontario and see Rochester on the US side.

Rouge National Urban Park
The Visitors Centre
Bear-proof rubbish bins

The human history of the Rouge National Urban Park goes back over 10,000 years. This includes Palaeolithic nomadic hunters, Iroquoian farmers, and early European explorers. It was once an important trading place as the Rouge River, which runs along with it, offered a trade route for fur, and timber.

As its an urban park it has multiple entrances. I will not be able to tell you what public transport to take, as here in Toronto, we drive everywhere. I might take public transport once every few years just for the fun of it.

Today, I started at the Park Visitor Centre, which is opposite the Toronto Zoo. My aim was to walk up the little hill behind it. As I hate rules, I ventured out into the woods and explored. As you can see, once in the woods, the scene is more or less the same. Nonetheless, with the sun, the shade of green is still stunning to watch.

I traveled along the Rouge River a bit. That reminded me of another trip. When I first came to Canada, I went out fishing as I was told that salmon fishing is exciting. With my basic gear, a fishing rod, and bait. I walked along this same stretch of river.

 

 

Turtles sunbathing
Salmon Fishing

Every year, there are two seasons when the salmon swim upstream to lay their eggs. During that time, tens of thousands of salmon fill the river. I was in luck, a kilometer downstream, I hooked a beautiful salmon. That was probably the only luck I had that day.

It was a battle, after maybe 20 minutes, the salmon gave up and accepted its fate. Then I had my first problem. I was not in my waders, and I didn’t have a fish net. The river bank was two feet above the water and the line wasn’t strong enough to bear the weight of the fish if I tried to haul it up. Decision made, I jumped into the river and carried the fish to shore.

Now I had problem number two. I was one kilometer away from my car. I didn’t even have a backpack, so I have to cradle the 30 lbs. fish, all wet, and walk back.

Oh, the stink. My clothes, my car, and the smell lingered for ages.  Proudly, I called my friend to report the good news. And he told me calmly, that a fish of that size from the area I was at was not edible because of pollution. (Now the situation is better, but 30+ years ago. It was bad.)  So I now had problem number 3, I had to dig a 3x2x4 ft hole in my backyard to bury the fish.

That was the last time I went river fishing.

Beare Hill

Today, there is a clear blue sky but a very strong wind. Walking up Beare Hill. There’s an occasional foul smell. It’s because this hill is actually a garbage dump, a landfill.

Some genius back in the 70s thought it’s would be an excellent idea to build a ski hill using a garbage dump. The garbage was dumped, but the ski hill never happen. Later the Park took over and skiing, hang gliding, alpine slide, and go-carting were scrapped. The landfill continues to produce methane gas as the refuse rots below the surface. A private company installed a series of gas wells and pipes to collect it and constructed a generating plant to convert methane gas to natural gas into electricity.

 

The Methane Plant

 

 

Allen on the top of Beare Hill. The strength of the wind is evident in the grass and scudding clouds

 

Once on top, I had a clear view of the area. I could see the high rises where I live, the Pickering Nuclear plant, and Lake Ontario. And looking north, I could see all the farmland. The real estate prices went up like crazy during the last couple of years. I can understand that happening in Hong Kong, but here? knock, knock, anybody home?

 

Pickering Nuclear Plant and high rises in the distance

 

Farmlands to the North

 

Lunch Break
The perfect spot for a quiet lunch

 

Bees busy at work

 

One of the local residents

It was too windy to stay, so I hurried back to my favourite pond to have a quick lunch. It was nice and quiet here. As I was looking at my lunch, I remember what Stewart mentioned a couple of times, avoid using disposable water bottles. Some might still think I recycle every single bottle I use. You might have done your part, but don’t feel good about it. I google-searched some info about disposable water bottle recycle rates, the result came back 12 to 20 %. That means for whatever reason that for every 6 bottles sold, 5 ended up in the landfill or the ocean.

(Stewart Goes Walkies is grateful to Allen and all our readers who comply with our request to use reusable water bottles).

 

 

Conclusions

So enough for the day. Unlike Stewart’s walks, where there’s always a tea house to quench your thirst, here I have to drive home as it is against the law to drink alcohol in public.

Enjoy the summer, and as Stewart says, stay safe and stay sane.

Once again Stewart Goes Walkies is grateful to Allen for this report on Rouge Park and especially, his reminiscences about salmon fishing. Smoked salmon will never taste the same again.

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can send it to stewartgoeswalkies@gmail.com

Help us to make a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Don’t buy drinking water in plastic bottles when it’s easy to bring it from home. Let’s work together to save the planet.

 

 

 

 

Stop and Smell the Roses

Introduction

The weather in Hong Kong is no longer conducive to hiking. As usual, for this time of year, we have hot weather warnings, interspersed with torrential rain storms, gales, and lightning storms. A typical summer’s day in Scotland, you might say. Unfortunately, we don’t live in Scotland.

Fortunately, the adverse weather conditions don’t stop us from getting out, even for just a few moments. And it is important for our physical and mental health that we make the effort.

Be aware of your surroundings

It is quite possible because I am a budding photographer, that I pay attention to the bushes along the footpaths that I follow. You never know what you might find.

One of my contributors, Sasha Haldane, is an avid nature photographer and I am constantly amazed at the quality of her work. You can see examples of Sasha’s photos here and here. She must have incredible patience, to look for, sit and wait for the right moment to photograph her subjects. Sasha also has an Instagram account and those of you with membership can take a look at haldanesasha.

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Two examples of Sasha’s work.

Some of my work

One of the subjects I have constantly displayed through my work is the trees that I come across. I never tire of sitting in their shade and enjoying that peace and tranquility that they offer.

Indeed, all we need to do is recognise their existence. Trees are home to many creatures, insects, squirrels, and birds. On one occasion I even spotted a family of voles. Then there are the birds. And if you bother to take the time to sit and listen, their songs are quite beautiful.

You never have to look very far to find trees. They are all around us if you bother to take the time to look.

 

The Flowers

One thing we are never short of in the parks is flowers.

 

 

 

 

I found this beauty hiding underneath a stairwell
The Moss

While I was searching for flowers I came across this patch of moss and decided it was worth a photo.

 

I was just about to move off when the sun peaked through the clouds and lit up the scene.

 

 

Apart from trying to keep up my target of 5 kilometers a day the warmer weather is going to make it more difficult to do any serious hiking. However, it is up to us to make the effort.

Get out and walk as often as you can, and keep an eye out for insect and plant life. It’s all there for us to enjoy. Please do so sensibly.

Camera Gear and Editing

I use a Canon G7X Mkii for still photography and a GoPro Hero 9 Black for video work. I shoot in RAW and edit the photos in Adobe Lightroom.

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can send it to stewartgoeswalkies@gmail.com

Help us to make a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Don’t buy drinking water in plastic bottles when it’s easy to bring it from home. Let’s work together to save the planet.