Fanling to Lam Tsuen

The full 8 Kilometre route which started at Exit B of the Fanling MTR Station which I did in the company of my son, James and my mate, David.

 Leaving home at 7:45, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. While I did see several elderly people and children on the hike, including one man who was recovering from a stroke and another gentleman walking barefoot, this route does call for a degree of fitness.

The start of the trail as seen from Exit B of the Fanling MTR Station (immediately across the road), and setting off. It starts off deceptively and almost immediately turns into a steep 45 degree struggle.

 Very soon the path levels out, leading to a false sense of security. However, soon it is climbing again and this was to be the routine for the remainder of the hike. The first section was the Wu Tip Shan Trail

James lead for most of the hike and as a result almost all of the pictures I have of him are from this angle.

An abandoned restaurant along the trail. I can only assume that the food must have been fantastic for people to have hiked all the way up here to get to it.

 Taking a rest before starting the Wu Tip Shan Trail.

 

The start of the ‘dreaded’ steps.

I estimate that a good 85 percent of the trail was either ascending or descending stairs. And, as you will see, steps, some of which were very steep.

 

 

We arrived at the top of these steps and rested before starting the next part of the trail. The Tai To Yan section.

 

 

As usual, James lead the way.

 

On the Tai To Yan Section

This section was gruelling and soon the concrete path gave way to a dirt track with a long series of steep wooden steps, some of which were angled at 45 degrees.

 

The signpost, Lam Tsuen 4K to go, and having a well-earned rest and premature celebration.

The short section that followed was by far the most beautiful part of the hike. We found ourselves in a Bamboo Grove before the path followed the course of a small stream almost all the way to the next section.

This was the most enjoyable part of the hike and it took us on to the final section, the Ngau Kwu Leng Hiking Trail

The Ngau Kwu Leng Hiking Trail is all on concrete path and in places is very steep. It would probably be difficult, if not dangerous when wet.

 

 

 

 

 It was a relief to get to the end of the trail and James, who had lead us most of the way carried on across the bridge which took us over the Lam Tsuen River towards the Wishing Tree and the first of many cold beers.

The government advisory on this hike is that it requires a degree of physical fitness. This is certainly true. Also, you need to take plenty of water as there is only one or two streams along the way and they are getting on towards the end. And you would need a filtration device for safety. I took 3 Litres of fresh water in my CamelBak and when I used it up David very kindly shared some of his with me. Sturdy hiking shoes are a must and I could not have done without my hiking pole. In fact, if I’d had more experience with hiking poles I would have brought both of them and now rarely do a hike without them unless I know it will be an easy trail.

It took us five hours but a fit person could do it in less. If you are considering this hike do some research into the topography. (Which I failed to do).

Finally, my thanks to James and David for watching out for me and making the day a successful, if exhausting one.

Be safe and enjoy.

What do I take?

And why do I take it?

Apart from my 2 Litre CamelBak Mule, which I carry with me whenever I go walkies, I take several pieces of equipment, along with various items of food, munchies and hot drinks. 

But first, a word of explanation:

I started hiking and camping in 1975. It was around the same time I started rock climbing because I realised that in order to get to the best climbs in Hong Kong you often had to camp out overnight. 

I became what is known as a ‘gear freak’. I spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, buying equipment, only to find that there was something better available on the market. As a result of which, I could go out into the wilderness, often solo, secure in the knowledge that I had the best equipment available to see me through any situation.

Today, I do shorter day hikes, but I still carry equipment that I know I can rely on in a bad case scenario. What do I mean by a ‘bad case scenario’?  

In 1975 I met an English gentleman who I will refer to AJP. AJP was a professional, well educated, widely travelled, and he was a rock climber which endeared him to me from the outset. He was, at the time, the most impressive person I had ever met. There wasn’t an ounce of unwanted fat on him, and I rarely saw him lose his composure. He was, what I now refer to as an ‘evil genius’. What I mean by that is that he had long, extensive periods of total genius, interspersed by moments of abject stupidity.

One of these moments of abject stupidity occurred just after lunch one Sunday afternoon. AJP decided to climb Sunset Peak on Lantau. He left his apartment in the Mid Levels and took the Hong Kong Yau Ma Tei Ferry to Mui Wo (then known as Silver Mine Bay). Upon arrival, he made his way to the start of the walk and hiked up to the summit of Sunset Peak.

Ordinarily, this would have been a simple and enjoyable outing. Unfortunately, AJP took nothing with him, not even a bottle of water, and he was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and his footwear consisted of a pair of flip-flops!

He made his way to the summit in short order, being the fit person that he was, and spent some time exploring the area. At some point in time he realised that the afternoon was drawing in and that he should probably start down. 

AJP did not wear a wrist watch. I remember asking him why he didn’t have one, it was not as if he couldn’t afford to buy one. He explained that he had a ‘bad karma’ with wristwatches and that the last one he owned fell off his wrist as he opened the window of his office. He worked on the 17th floor.

Seeing that it was getting late in the afternoon he started down. Unfortunately, one of his flip-flops broke. AJP hobbled on as best he could, but soon realised that he was not going to make it down to the main road before nightfall. He found a suitable rock on which to sit and waited out the night. The late season mosquitoes must have thought it was Christmas.

And this brings me to the purpose of this presentation. Imagine how much less uncomfortable his night would have been with just a few items of equipment. Let me show you what I carry with me in my CamelBak every time I go out.

Let’s consider the most important considerations:

Water – I have a CamelBak Mule with a 2 Litre capacity. For dire emergencies I also carry a Sawyer Mini Water Filtration Kit which allows me to extract drinkable water from streams or other sources which might otherwise be considered questionable.

Munchies – These mostly come down to personal choice. I carry a variety of snacks which I think might come in useful. I love chocolate, but in the warmer months it turns into a sticky mess.

The ability to provide a warm drink –  I carry an Esbit Pocket Stove that uses fuel tablets. In a pinch, if you run out of fuel tablets you can also use twigs. I have packed it in a mess tin. I also have a pot holder, utensils and various means by which to light the fuel.

The mess tin, pocket stove, pot holder, lighter and fire steel.

So, how would any or all of this gear have made AJP’s night less uncomfortable? 

He would have had water, or the ability to make a water source drinkable. He would have had ‘comfort foods’, something to boost his spirits, and he would have had the ability to provide himself with a hot drink or a quick meal (when you are hungry even the humble instant noodle goes a long way to improving your outlook on life). Of course, if he’d had the sense to wear decent footwear I wouldn’t be telling you this story now.

Apart from the weight of the 2 litres of water in the CamelBak this equipment weighs less than 5 kg and the potential benefits of carrying it far outweigh the inconvenience of the weight.

In conclusion:

I hope you have found this useful and informative, and in case you are wondering, no, I do not receive commission from any of the suppliers mentioned. I am, however, happy to recommend equipment and suppliers that I have found to be of value and assistance.

Enjoy the outdoors, and be safe. It doesn’t take much to make your next day hike a safe and enjoyable one!

San Tsuen to the Wishing Tree

This is a pleasant walk along a mostly flat path that follows the Lam Tsuen River. To get to the start of the walk take the 64K KMB bus from the Tai Po bus terminus, or you can pick it up at Tai Wo. San Tsuen is one of the regular stops. Alternatively, you can take the 24K Green Minibus from Tai Wo and ask the driver for the San Tsuen stop.

Shortly after the bus stop you will find traffic lights and a crossing. Cross the road and turn left and very shortly you come to the start of the walk.

The start of the walk. Continue down this path and within a few steps you are surrounded by greenery and the traffic noises from Lam Kam Road fade away.

Along this section of the path you will find commercial gardens selling flowers and a new addition is this organic garden. It is so nice, in a place like Hong Kong where every vacant piece of land is sold for development to see people making an effort to contribute to the environment

The path continues and within a few steps you come to the Lam Tsuen River. The following pictures show scenes along the walk

It is sad that in this day and age people have to be reminded of this.

A breakwater to reduce damage to the river banks during flooding

A farm on the opposite side of the river. Shortly after this a path leads off to the right. It is a bit steep but not very long and it takes you up to the Wishing Tree,

 

Entering the Wishing Tree area. There are some restaurants which serve hot and cold drinks and food. You can relax and enjoy the hospitality before starting home.

The original Wishing Tree, sadly it has to be propped up to prevent is falling over.

Finally you are at the entrance to Fong Ma Po/Wishing Tree and the end of the walk. When leaving the village you come out onto Lam Kam Kung Road and there is a KMB bus stop just to your right where you can pick up a bus or minibus to take you back to the Tai Wo MTR.

I hope you enjoy the walk. Please send me any comments you might have.