Hong Kong walking

So we made it.

Hong Kong has made us welcome with uninterrupted perfect weather. Perched in our eyrie we look out over the urban landscape of Hong Kong Island. Centre stage, the rugby posts adorning the geometric splendor of the Bank of China Tower. Not a curve in sight. Below it the HQ of HSBC and the smaller and less eye-catching Standard Chartered Bank tower. The haze is just as bad as when we left in February 2015. The hills of Kowloon are infrequently visible when the net curtains are tugged briefly to one side. Most days though we can watch the Star Ferry chugging its diminishing route between Central and TST. The only birds sounds that float up are the screeches of the Yellow-crested cockatoos. Occasionally a Black Kite will drift past.

To the rear we have the wooded hillsides below The Peak. At night orange lamps show the path winding steeply up Old Peak Road. Atop the ridge some of the world’s most expensive real estate gazes scornfully at the hoi polloi below. That’s us.

I promised myself that I would do some walking if I could find reasonable paths to amble along. To my surprise (and even more so the surprise of my creaking knees and tugging hamstrings) there are several that I find manageable.

To get to the Peak plateau, where the tourists congregate to be disappointed at the invisible view, I have a choice. Chatham Path is a stone stairway that winds up to Barker Road. It is called The Central Green Trail. Just off the main path above May Road is a small, immaculately kept temple. Beyond the path winds through dense jungle on one side and steep slopes to the other, giving the typical panorama of the island. Small cascades suggest there ought to be more wildlife than is visible on my walks. A Pallas’s Squirrel tolerates me briefly then scuttles up the tree trunk and away as hikers approach behind me.

I like this path but to get to the Peak the walk along Barker Road is unappealing. Construction work is everywhere in HK. Build, pause, knock down, rebuild. Creative destruction. Or destructive creation. Barker Road is a classic example. So generally I take the other route up.

At the end of Tregunter Path a narrow hairpin bend loops you onto Old Peak Road. Trees on one side and on the other steep, scrubby slopes. The first few hundred meters are extremely tough on the calf muscles walking up and even harder on the quads walking down. Locals have a couple of solutions. Some try walking in a zig-zag and some walk backwards. The steep section gets the heart rate up. Fix your eyes firmly on the second orange litterbin. This is where the incline starts to lessen and the heart can beat less rapidly.

In the morning the helpers walk the dogs (or vice versa) and the joggers pant up and down, lycra-clad, dripping in perspiration, checking their wrist monitors for heart beat, distance travelled, altitude change and of course the latest stock and property prices. This is after all Hong Kong.

I am constantly checking the environment for my usual birds and bugs. All the way up. It takes me about 25 minutes, including the ritual exchange of greetings with the path sweeper. Sometimes I pause to divert into the men’s toilet. The lights are on all night and it is a good place to check for moths. I suppose it looks a bit odd but it is perfectly innocent.

At the “top” a further choice awaits me. There is a further walk on up to Victoria Peak Garden. This is not extensively used but there have been good birds found up here so its worth an occasional visit.

Or I can walk the roughly 3km around Lugard Road. Flat, easy and the small waterfall offers birds and butterflies if the sun is shining.

Finally I can walk down to Pokfulam Reservoir. This is busy and quite enjoyable but at the end it is either a bus ride back or turn around and walk all the way back up.

So my preferred route now is about half way around Lugard Road and then off to the left. This takes me into Lung Fu Shan country park. According to AFCD, “Lung Fu Shan Country Park was designated in 1998. It is the smallest country park in Hong Kong covering 47 hectares. “

More choices here: A straight walk down Hatton Road to where it approaches HK University. A detour along the LFS Fitness Trail and Pinewood Battery. Or another route down to Pokfulam Reservoir.

I normally do a mix and then follow the path straight back up. Birding is hard here if only because the trail is so popular. Slowly I am starting to get some decent photos and sightings. Pinewood Battery is good for butterflies. The birds need a lot of work and can be very frustrating. The morning light is not especially favourable for photography. I want to write more about Lung Fu Shan but that must wait for another day. I hope you will follow my trips.

Muscicapa sibirica

Urocissa erythroryncha

Eurema hecabe


Callosciurus erythraeus

32 thoughts on “Hong Kong walking

  1. Nice to see this post, Andrew .I like all the pics very much. The birds are beautiful and the butterflies exciting. I had not previously seen a pic any where of the squirrel.

    It seems you are again in photographic heaven. So many possibilities and that is what keeps you happy, I think. And besides you and Shirley are back on familiar ground even though it is a high rise.

    • The area is easily accessible Yvonne. That’s the main advantage. The apartment is easy to maintain which we appreciate. I try to get out most days and it is very enjoyable. I’m glad you left me the Pallas’s Squirrel.

    • A perfectionist? Me? Well for each photo I post I probably discard 30-40. If I get something unusual and the picture isn’t how I would like then I will keep it until I have something better but it will eat away at me in the meantime. Thanks for visiting.

  2. Hello Andrew,

    Good to learn you have settled in and thank you for a most interesting and entertaining description of your new surroundings. The photographs are up to your usual high standard.
    Such a shame about the smog, I remember my first visit in the early 1980,s when we marvelled about how clear the air was.
    The good old Canon still going strong here, but for some reason it does n’t quite capture the
    images it used to.

    Best wishes and kind regards

    • Hello Geoff. It was a tough 2+ years in Britain and we never really felt it was home. Our return has reinforced the feeling that it was the right decision. The air quality is nowhere near as bad as Beijing or Shanghai but after Hampshire it is not good. As long as I have access to walking country I am fine and Mid Levels is so convenient. I hike most mornings, down to Central for lunch at the HK Club, read the FT…. it’s quite civilized. I have a Canon body but it all got a bit heavy to carry so all the big artillery went. The Fuji is not as good for speed but it makes the walking fun again. Is Rupert still here. I must look him up if he is.
      Best wishes, Andrew

  3. So good to hear you’re settling in again there, all the happier for having spent some time in Britain. I’m glad to hear you have so many choices for good walks. You’re photos are delightful~can’t wait to continue the journey with you!

      • Oh, I remember how that was when you were moving the other way, and having to wait. It looks like you are making good use of your time. Does Lulu accompany you on your jaunts? I find that my little Westie doesn’t particularly enjoy long walks. He digs in his heels and looks sorrowfully up at me. Just as well because many of the places I would go have ticks. He has tick protection, but he has brought them home on his fur and they’ve gotten onto me.

  4. Nice to see you back in HK. I often felt that Hampshire might not have been as good as the past memory. One becomes a bit inside-outside.

    Here in Australia, the approval of SS Marriage was almost too much, but the Australian Bakers Association are solidly behind it all, hoping to make a bundle out of wedding-cakes.

    Your photos are even better, Andrew. I like the squirrel. What a magnificent tail.

  5. I shall follow your trips with delight, Andrew. Pleased you’re back and feeling settled, smog permitting. The hill walking can only be a good thing and the photos will be a happy bonus 😉

    • Hi Jenny. I drop in your Flipbook magazine thingy now and again for my dose of arts. Love it. I miss the art documentaries here – I really enjoyed Britain’s Lost Masterpieces. I wish the BBC would make iPlayer available internationally. There are ways to access it I believe but all illegal 😦

  6. Glad to see you back online and you seem much happier. New photo too! Just sorry we didn’t meet up in Hampshire, but we have moved too- to Gloucestershire.
    Looking forward to more photos from The Peak. (Was there with my Peter Symonds students in 1993 or thereabouts)

    • Very perceptive! I had been away too long. It was very tough trying to adjust to a lifestyle that was so different. I can’t see us ever returning. We loved the climate and the scenery but it never felt like home. Realistically nowhere is perfect but here we feel we belong. We had lovely neighbours in Shawford but family and established friendships are here. I will try to stay on WP more of time permits. Our house sale completes next week and our furniture arrives today. Then life can return to a sort of normal.

      • No, nowhere is perfect, as you say, but home is where the heart is. We face a similar decision as our Australian emigration trundles along. Meanwhile property prices have rocketed over there and we are facing Brexit. May have to remain here, though we like it. Just don’t relish the winters!

  7. I didn’t expect to see so many beautiful photos of nature when clicking on a post about Hong Kong. If it’s all downhill, did you find the silent hill?

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