Having explored the attractions of the Peak Tower and viewing platform (see last week’s post here), we decided to escape the commercialism of the shops and boutiques and head off to explore the nature trails that criss-cross the Peak (at 552 metres above sea level, the highest point on Hong Kong Island).
Monsieur remembered doing the circular walk around the summit a few years back. At the start of the trails we found a helpful map and some information about the history. The elevated hillside above the city has long been popular with locals as a way to escape the humidity and often stifling air of the city streets along with the pungent smell of the markets, particularly in the hot summer months. Wealthy citizens began to build their residences up the hillside where they could enjoy the superb views (Governor Richard MacDonnell started this trend when he had his summer residence built there in 1868). In the days before air conditioning the breeze must have been especially welcome!
It was interesting to see photos of the quaint cafes and early trams of a bygone era. However originally the only means of getting up and down, apart from walking, was by sedan chair! Fortunately for the porters the trams started running in the later 19th century and continue to this day. I was astonished to read that the Peak was reserved exclusively for ex pats until 1947 – an insight into the spirit of the times.
So we set off along Lugard Road (named after Sir Frederick Lugard, governor from 1907 to 1912) enjoying the relative peace and tranquillity away from the crowds of the Peak Tower. We were surprised how few people there were – a few tourists ambling along, a couple of joggers and a family out with their dog. Another couple passed us by with their white terrier beautifully shod in a small set of black leather shoes (I’m not kidding just wish we could have taken a photo!). We could catch glimpses of the city skyline through the dense vegetation but we felt far removed from a bustling metropolis.
The idea was to do the relatively short Peak Circle Walk that hugs the hillside and takes you back via Harlech Road to the Peak Tower and tram terminus. We passed the Lugard Falls and came to a clearing where work was going on, apparently to develop a picnic and pavilion area.
Here we came to a signpost……
Now clearly I should have realised that we ought to be heading back to the Peak Tram Station as obviously it is signposted in both directions so should have been a clue that this was in fact the circular trail. For some reason we had kept seeing signs for the Morning Trail as we walked along so, thinking this was our correct route, I overruled Monsieur and we headed down left instead of right (I should add it was a bit confusing as the main signpost here had no mention of the Morning Trail but there was a smaller one at the side of the pathway). Suffice to say it became obvious that we had moved away from the previously flat trail and were heading steeply downwards. It was pounding on the knees to say the least! Anyway by this stage we didn’t particularly want to turn round and go uphill again so we carried on wondering where we were going to land up. Past a gentleman loudly doing some sort of martial art ritual, we came to a spectacular lookout point.
We asked a walker coming up the path where the trail led but he turned out to be a Swiss tourist visiting his daughter, had only just arrived and was none too sure of his bearings either! However we had an interesting chat about the relative merits of Switzerland and Western Australia and I was able to practice my German so that was an unexpected bonus. So we kept walking downhill! Near Hatton Road the path wended down past the original city boundary marker from 1903. Apparently there are a whole series of these small obelisks round Hong Kong Island (see here for more details)
Eventually we came to small rest area and met a jogger who turned out to be local out on his daily run. He explained the Morning Trail was a longer one that took you up from the residential area called the Mid Levels towards the Peak. We could see why he was so enthusiastic about the area – such a beautiful resource on his doorstep and a chance to get out into nature and escape the urbanisation and pollution that affects the air quality in the city.
A few hundred metres further on we were back in residential streets and were able to hop on one of the many minibuses for the last leg into the city. We’d been able to experience a different side to Hong Kong – the Morning Trail had turned out to be a serendipitous discovery!
For more fascinating walks round the world join Restless Jo every week for her Monday Walks!
Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved