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In honour of Hong Kong’s great trail running evangelist, Will Hayward and a few friends have brought the city’s total to an unofficial five with The Tinworth.

Elizabeth Kerr suggests you start with the four Lantau sections
PHOTOS BY Will Hayward & Jono Woodhouse


Professor William Hayward, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Lingnan University, looks precisely the way you’d expect an avid trail runner to look. The tall, wiry, Christchurch native is well over six feet and it’s easy to believe he’d almost glide over the so-called Big Four. He’s done them all, twice, but not in any kind of time that would be considered “within” an acceptable window. One day.

Right now, Will’s busy stumping for the fifth Beatle of Hong Kong’s trails: the Tinworth Trail, named for fellow Kiwi Nic Tinworth, who singlehandedly raised the profile of trail running (or hiking) in the SAR. Nic sadly succumbed to a brain tumour in 2020 at just 44 – proving that year could be worse – so Will and the runners to whom he meant so much wondered what the best way to memorialise him would be. The right answer is sometimes the most obvious, and so by exploiting Hong Kong’s elite ultra-marathon location status Will & Co decided to create a fifth trail.

The Tinworth is now that fifth, second only to the 100km Maclehose in length, at 90km, followed by the Wilson (78km), the Lantau (70km) and the Hong Kong (50km) trails. Describing the Tinworth Trail (www.tinworthtrail.com) as “by the community for the community,” Will extols its vir tues as the slightly weird brother that Nic would have approved of.


So if you’re on the Tinworth Trail, where are you going? The route star ts in the northeast corner of the territory at Sha Tau Kok, runs southwest through the New Territories, hops the bay and picks up in Lantau. “You can cross the water at Shum Tseng. There’s a famous roast goose restaurant there.

Take a minibus to Tsing Ying, do one stop to Sunny Bay then start running again. We are not making people swim across the bay,” Will says with a chuckle. The Tinworth then continues southwest to Tai O, and boasts a 5,000-metre positive elevation change over its 90 kilometres. Will claims it can be done in roughly 17 hours. “You can do it in one go or over a year. We don’t care.” Notably, only four of the 90 kilometres treads the same ground as the Big Four. “The Tinworth’s not a government trail.

Sometimes they gussy things up and make it kind of nice and install concrete steps,” Will says. “There are a million trails out in the woods if you know where to look, and Nic loved the muddy, scrambly, howdo- I-get-up-there trails, so we have a few of those “shiggy” sections. It’s a bit more challenging, but not impossible. People seem to really like those.” Like the other four trails, the Tinworth is a collection of existing trails strung together, but unlike those it hasn’t been given a bureaucratic seal of approval. Will doesn’t pretend it’s anything more than a website built by a group of runners, hikers, race organisers and [fitness tracking app] Strava users putting their collective experience to work to build something new.

There’s a little bit of “you should be able to get from here to there,” involved too, as Will describes it. “When I was musing about it, the first thing I had to do was convince a few others this might be a good idea. So there was a group of us who explored different trails. Then it was a matter of sure you can design a trail, but how do people follow it?” The Tinworth has only been “open” since November, but so far, so good. Early feedback suggests those who’ve tried it (most have heard about it by word of mouth) have enjoyed it, and they’re enjoying its hidden gem cache. Of course, its unofficial status means there are no brightly coloured ribbons or signposts or arrows guiding walkers and runners along the way. “We used technology to solve that problem,” says Will.

“The website has a map and a GPX link. That’s a spatial topographic file that you load onto your phone or your smar twatch, and it will tell you where you are on the trail, and help you navigate. And it works with satellite, so anyone with a smar twatch will be fine if there’s no cell reception, which is rare. Coverage here is terrific.”


The Lantau portion of the Tinworth comprises four of its 10 sections: Sunny Bay to Discovery Bay Neo Trail (6km, 524m up); Discovery Bay Neo Trail to Pak Mong (7.4km, 321m); Pak Mong to Yu Tung Road (10.2km, 783m); and Yu Tung Road to Tai O (13.7km, 288m). Highlights include Tiger’s Head, Lo Fu Tau just off the path, a 700-metre climb out of Pak Mong, and the Tung O Ancient Trail.

“We wanted to stay off the Lantau Trail as much as possible,” Will says. “We’ve done that reasonably well. The Lantau Trail is basically the southwest. There’s nothing in Discovery Bay and nothing in Tung Chung, so we stayed on the north side. It starts at Sunny Bay, passes Disneyland and then you star t climbing the hill between Sunny Bay and Discovery Bay. It’s a little more overgrown, and has great views – over Penny’s Bay. Then it climbs Tiger’s Head and comes down to Pak Mong, up towards Sunset Peak and joins the Lantau Trail for about 800 metres. But that’s it.” The last part of the Tinworth, section 10, is pretty famous. It takes you past the Tung O Ancient Trail, which would have been the main trail for villagers for centuries. “It’s mostly concrete now but it’s a lovely walk along the coast where you can see the airpor t and the bridge,” Will enthuses.

Yes, he knows the Tinwor th brain trust could have simply extended the last leg to Fan Lau and clocked a nice round 100 kilometres, but the idea was to make it accessible and welcoming. Each leg ensures hikers and runners pass public toilets, shops, food vendors, and always offers a way home via public transport if for any reason a run needs to be cut short. “Fan Lau is the middle of nowhere. There’s no way out. Every stage has a start and an end point and we thought it was impor tant to finish somewhere you can get out. If you want to go on to Fan Lau more power to you,” finishes Will. “One thing that came out of COVID was people got into the outdoors and found they enjoyed new challenges. They’ve tried the Four Trails. I’m pretty confident they haven’t done all of the Tinworth.”

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