This hike takes you from the sophisticated model landscape of Discovery Bay to the old-world charm of Mui Wo, says Martin Lerigo.
The hike will take you three to four hours at a reasonable pace, with a steep ascent at the outset if you begin from the DB end.
The starting point for this glorious hike is a slightly anonymous set of steps opposite S.K.H. Wei Lun Primary School in Discovery Bay. From the main ferry pier, walk through DB Plaza, past the tennis courts and turn right when you reach Discovery Bay Road. Continue uphill for several hundred metres until you see a green sign at the bottom of some steps on your left-hand side. The sign reads ‘About 700 metres to lookout point’.
It’s a steep ascent up well-made steps – 30 minutes of hard work gets you to the lookout point, where you can rest and take in the view. Discovery Bay lies beneath you, actually comprising two bays, Tai Pak and Yi Pak. A marvel to behold for those with an eye for town planning, this place was built from scratch, starting 35 years ago.
Up Tiger’s Head from Discovery Bay
From the lookout point, you can see the skyscrapers of Central just a few kilometres across Victoria Harbour. The islands of Peng Chau and Hei Ling Chau sit in the foreground, with Lamma and Cheung Chau forming the backdrop. Turn around and you’ll see the craggy features of 465-metre Lo Fu Tau, or Tiger’s Head, staring down from above.
The shape of the tiger is best seen from the summit, looking back towards Discovery Bay. Two protrusions on either side of the main rock buttress look somewhat similar to ears, and it’s just possible to imagine that you’re looking down the nape of a tiger, as he casts his eyes on the scene below.
Continuing on along a well-defined path, you descend some steps to a concrete road. Follow this for 100 metres until you find a track on your right-hand side, you’ll see it snaking up to the summit of Tiger’s Head. The ascent is steep in places, so take your time and enjoy the view.
The summit rewards you with a 360° panorama. To the south, in the foreground, is Discovery Bay Golf Club; the west heralds your destination, Mui Wo, nestling in the shadow cast by majestic Lin Fa Shan’s 766-metre summit. To the north, you can see the leviathan engineering project that encompasses the airport reclamation and Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge. The sheer scale and volume of the works beneath you are a sight to behold.
The noise of the army of diggers and trucks, working like a furious colony of ants, could not be in greater contrast to the dulcet tones of a golf ball, being struck from the first tee on the other side of the mountain.
Lo Fu Tau Country Trail
Continue along the rocky path, which becomes the Lo Fu Tau Country Trail. It’s well marked with signs for Mui Wo. You’ll dip in and out of shallow valleys as the path hugs the natural contours of the land, twisting and turning like a Burmese python stalking its prey.
Two attractive and distinctive rock formations greet you towards the mid-section of the descent. Diving Board Rock comes into view on a hillside above your right shoulder, and it’s so picturesque, it looks as though it’s been placed there by a landscape architect. If only there was a large rock pool beneath it, this would be an amazing spot to practise swallow dives.
Next you’ll be greeted by Peach Rock, an attractive formation of smooth boulders set in front of Mui Wo Valley. The valley opens up behind in splendid and cavernous style; with its deep ravines and hidden tributaries, it’s an overload on the eye’s sense of perspective.
The path continues on its downward journey, clipping the edge of Discovery Bay Golf Club before descending into a thick carpet of rose myrtle. This prodigious native bush was planted in numbers and has since self-seeded to produce an amazing carpet of pink, which should now be in bloom.
The Olympic Trail to Silvermine Bay
The path meanders on before alighting at a wooden pagoda, which marks one end of Lo Fu Tau Country Trail. Here you turn left to join the Olympic Trail, so called because it was constructed to celebrate China’s hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games. This path is a solid concrete affair, hard-wearing and practical but not aesthetically sensitive to the lush countryside, through which it scores a line.
The path skirts in and out of forest before arriving at a white pavilion, set on a wooded hillside above Mui Wo. You turn left, continuing downhill through small villages and past huge natural outcrops of bamboo, some standing over 15 metres tall.
The bay before you is Silvermine and you’ll soon see the source of the name – the mouth of a tunnel entering into the hillside. This is the only remaining legacy of the old silver and lead works, which commenced operation in 1868. The tunnel extends just 10 metres or so, having been sealed for safety reasons several years ago. Just below is Silvermine Waterfall, somnolent at the moment but soon to awaken with the arrival of the heavy rains.
From here you continue downhill until you reach a fork in the road. Turn left through Wang Tong village, past a magnificent old banyan tree, and then take a right for the beach and the sea… journey’s end. I recommend you dive straight in to cool off, before picking up a beer from one of the beachside vendors.
This information is provided for reference only. Hiking trails vary in levels of difficulty. It is essential to bring suitable equipment, food and water, and ensure you are in adequate physical condition to undertake any hike.
Photos by Martin Lerigo.