Walks 5, Maclehose Trail Sections 6 & 7 – Needle Hill

As my summer holidays wound down, I felt an urge to do something worthwhile and outdoorsy. So I got up early one Monday morning and made for Kam Shan country park. The first section of the walk I’d completed several times, (https://stmckay.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/walks-1-kowloon-hills/) and it’s easy peasy – graded a 1* star difficulty rating by the Department of Difficult Hikes, or a similar body.

After reaching Shing Mun reservoir (and walking bravely right through the middle of what appeared to be a migrating herd of monkeys) I started on Stage 7 of the trail. There were lovely views of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak, and the almost tropical waters of the former ‘largest fresh water reservoir in Asia’:

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Then the fun began… Stage 7 is a 2** difficulty hike, but you climb up and up roughly cut steps for the best part of half an hour. This is Needle Hill, left hand side of the photo below, and I was hitting it right on midday. The sun throbbed. My t-shirt was wet through. This was 3*** surely! The views were beautiful, though: a panorama of Hong Kong Island, the harbour, Tsuen Wan to the west and Sha Tin to the east. Planes floating in to the airport felt close enough to touch. This is bang in the centre of Hong Kong, and as I slogged up it felt like I could look from one side of the territory to another:

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By the time I clambered to the summit of Needle Hill I was in no state to take a picture. I took on lots of water, gasped, and descended down the other side. Thinking about it now, I don’t know what I expected from ‘Needle Hill’ – the name doesn’t instantly conjure up images of gentle, Sunday promenades. But I was surprised that the rest of the walk was shaded and flat with occasional glimpses of the valley on one side or Sha Tin town on the other. And very relaxing. When I reached Lead Mine Pass I took the Wilson Trail down to Tai Po (seen through the trees in the picture below):

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And that was it. 3 parts bucolic stroll; 1 part Navy Seals training. And this being Hong Kong, as soon as I reached the first signs of civilization (some pretty plush village houses) a minibus turned up as if on cue and whisked me back to the MTR and home.

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