Hike: Violet Hill and Jardine's Lookout

by - May 03, 2014

Both sides of the island at once - the view from Violet Hill
The hiking book that I purchased back in October contains a total of 15 hikes, spread across all of the territory.  It had always been my intention to complete all of them and as my final month began, I realised that I would have to get a move on to achieve this.  As a result I decided to stitch a few of these hikes together - a process that was made easy by the excellent “Historical Hikes of Hong Kong” book by David Pickerell that I had been using.  I left the campus early and was at the bus station beneath the IFC by 10am.  The start point for both hikes was at ‘Hong Kong Parkview’, a luxury residential area locating on the heights above the harbour.  In order to get there I would have to take a Stanley-bound bus from Central.  Unfortunately, having aimed to get the number 6, I caught the number 6X.  The 'X’ apparently symbolises the fact that the bus route goes through the tunnels underneath the island, rather than through the passes above it, where the hike starts - and I therefore ended up wasting an hour or so, having gone directly underneath the trail-head, getting a taxi from Repulse Bay to rectify my mistake.

The start of the first hike - steps up to the right
Starting from a well-marked point next to Parkview, I followed signs for the Violet Hill and Tai Tam reservoir, the former of which I climbed to the top of and the latter of which I spent the first half of the first hike skirting around.  It was reasonably busy, being a Saturday morning, but there were still plenty of moments where there was nobody else about.  It soon became clear that this was going to be one of the most spectacular hikes I had done, as each turn brought better and better views of all of Hong Kong Island - first over Victoria Harbour on the north side, then over Aberdeen, Repulse Bay and Stanley on the south side, not to mention the views over the beautiful reservoirs and forests of Tai Tam Country Park.  After a steep initial climb, the ascent to Violet Hill wasn’t too hard and from there it was a gentle descent towards 'The Twins’ (a pair of very steep-sided peaks) and Repulse Bay.  At the foot of the twins, footpaths head off in all directions.  I took the right pass towards Repulse Bay, following signs for Wong Nai Chung Reservoir.  The path was now flat and followed the south side of the island with views towards  Ocean Park, Lamma Island and in the distance Cheung Chau.  About two and a half hours after I began I found myself at the Wong Nai Chung Reservoir - a tiny reservoir that was deemed too small to be worth maintaining for the purposes of drinking water and is now a boating lake.  From here it was about a 400m climb back to Parkview where I started and would also begin my second hike.

The start of the second hike - through the arch
The second hike was to head west along Hong Kong island, towards the peak, before veering north and east again, finishing at Quarry Bay station.  This hike again started with a steep hike up towards Jardine’s Lookout.  Along the way, a plaque marked the position where Canadian soldiers fought of the Japanese invasion during the war - with a Victoria Cross being rewarded to a Sergeant-Major Robert Osborn, who through himself on a grenade to protect his comrades.  After about half an hour of climbing I made it to Jardine’s Lookout, which had one of the best views of the harbour I have seen.  The peak’s name came from the fact that it used to be where representatives of Jardine Matheson (the opium house that was pivotal in the foundation of Hong Kong) used to come to wait for ships to arrive from Europe.  Legends has it that their ships used to signal insider information about the European stock markets to the hill, allowing the company to gain a commercial advantage on the Hong Kong markets…

The hike now headed downhill steeply towards a large quarry (after which Quarry Bay station is named) and with Tai Tam reservoir always visible to the right.  After another steep climb along the side of the quarry I arrived at a hill with views over the lesser-known east end of Victoria Harbour, from where I descended to Quarry Bay MTR station and headed back to the campus.  While both hikes together were quite a lot of work (about five and a half hours of reasonably intense hiking in total), it was definitely worth seeing both of them together and an achievable goal for anybody wanting to see a different side of Hong Kong while being pushed for time.

Tai Tam Reservoir
Repulse Bay and the south side of the island
Victoria Harbour from Jardine’s Lookout
The eastern end of Victoria Harbour

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