Drawing you up the lower slopes of Sunset Peak and then down through remote Wong Lung Hang Valley, this walk culminates at Tung Chung Fort, a relic of yesteryear, nestling in the shadow of a modern-day tower block.
The cooler weather hails the high point of Lantau’s hiking season, and there’s no better time to tackle this glorious walk. Wong Lung Hang Valley, whilst close to Tung Chung, is little walked, so bring along your mobile phone. And pack your swimming kit, as it may still be warm enough for a dip in the rock pools near journey’s end.
Your starting point is Nam Shan picnic site, two miles outside of Mui Wo. It’s accessed from the South Lantau Road and marked by a big, wooden arch announcing the start of the Lantau Trail. There is a bus stop close by and all buses out of Mui Wo and Tung Chung stop here. Just ask the driver if you’re not sure of the alighting point.
At Nam Shan, you’ll see waymarkers pointing you towards Sunset Peak. Follow these along a path that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has planted with indigenous trees. This is one of the AFCD’s showcase projects, and it’s well worth taking the time to read the display information and learn something about the enormous variety of flora lining your way.
Pak Kung Au mountain pass
From here, follow the yellow waymarkers of the Lantau Trail signing the way to Pak Kung Au mountain pass. The trail starts to ascend, shrouded by thick jungle, as starbursts of sunlight twinkle through the canopy above. Listen out for the sound of bells, which will put you in mind of the Mediterranean. You might be lucky enough to see a herd of goats (they happen to live here), crossing your path in search of tasty fresh grass on the slopes above.
After 30 minutes or so, you break through the jungle canopy and hit the open slopes. On a good day the views down to Pui O and along the South Lantau coast are stunning. Ahead is the summit of Sunset Peak – at 869 metres it’s the third highest in Hong Kong, just behind its cousin, Lantau Peak, which you can see across your left flank in the distance.
Keep ascending as the path meanders, crossing over mountain streams. Cascading down from the upper slopes, these are the streams that feed Shek Pik Reservoir via the large catchment near the bottom of the mountain. The very water you cross on this hike may well be coming out of your tap in the months ahead.
Soon you come to a gulley between Sunset Peak and Lin Fa Shan, another peak towering proudly to your east. Keep following the signs for Sunset Peak and, within 10 minutes, you’ll see a small, wooden pavilion with a sign showing Wong Lung Hang Road to the south. Take this turn and enter the enchanting valley, which tumbles down towards the burgeoning conurbation of Tung Chung.
Wong Lung Hang Valley
Wong Lung Hang Valley sees few visitors. I’ve never passed another person walking this path, and that alone makes it a glorious discovery. The path descends steeply at first, entering groves of giant bamboo and acacia, then on through many twists and turns, crossing tumbling waterfalls that descend to the valley floor below.
You’ll almost certainly hear the shyest of all Hong Kong creatures, the barking deer that hide deep in the jungle undergrowth. Stand still and quiet for five minutes and you have a good chance of seeing one, trotting down to the rock pools for some fresh mountain water.
Keep descending on the well-designated path. About halfway down, you are rewarded by a breath-taking view across the valley, towards Lin Fa Shan. Only on a clear day can you truly appreciate the scale of the valley, since the clear air removes the particles that affect the depth of field in our vision.
Here the descent becomes steeper and eventually brings you to concrete steps, connecting with the Wong Lung Hang Road. Turn left and walk along this road towards Tung Chung. There is no traffic, as this is a closed Water Supplies Department access road for a sealed reservoir higher up the valley.
After about 10 minutes, keep an eye open to your right and listen for the rush of running water. This spot marks the start of the mountain stream that runs off from the valley and eventually makes its way to the sea, two miles away. Local villagers, and people living in the Leviathan Yat Tung Estate nearby, like to come here, and collect water from the stream for drinking and washing.
Beyond a layby, on the right, is a small path that cuts its way through to a large rock pool. It’s an amazing place to have a swim near your journey’s end. Enjoy the fresh waters that shimmer aquamarine and azure under the dappled sunlight.
Tung Chung Fort
After this refreshing stop, re-join the Wong Lung Hang Road and turn right towards Tung Chung. After five minutes or so, you reach the main Tung Chung Road, adjacent to Leviathan Yat Tung Estate. Turn left and walk for five minutes, looking out for Tung Chung Fort, which lies just ahead on your left-hand side. A signpost for the fort is nestled in amongst other signs for local restaurants.
Through a path between local houses, you can see the entrance to Tung Chung Fort, a seldom visited and rather lonely relic of Hong Kong’s past. The fort dates from the 12th century Southern Song Dynasty. It has gone through many incarnations since then, the current structure dating back to 1843, when the fort was resurrected as a defence against pirates. Now the home of the Tung Chung Rural Committee, this unique piece of local history seems all but forgotten, tucked away out of sight and hidden from all but the most inquisitive.
Standing inside Tung Chung Fort’s central compound, the six remaining cast-iron cannons point directly at Leviathan Yat Tung Estate, which towers in the distance, testament to the amazing change development has brought to Lantau.
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.
Images: Martin Lerigo