Easy hike, some “caving”, testing navigation skills and visiting part of Hong Kong’s history close to the city. Good dry winter plan.
- Beauty/fun: 5.5/10. The tunnels are fun to get lost into 🙂 Hiking around MacLehose section 6 offers some nice views of both Kowloon and Fo Tan area & tons of monkeys (that can be good or bad, your choice).
- Difficulty: 3/10. Part of the hiking proposed is on the MacLehose, part on less frequented paths with some loose sandy terrain and minimal bushwalking. The tunnels themselves are simple to navigate and if you are not really sure where you are, you can always walk back the same way you came in or use the side paths connecting different exits, marked with ribbons.
A little history first. The Gin Drinkers Line was the defensive line built by the British against the Japanese invasion in the WW2. Completely undermanned though, it was not effective at all and in a couple of days the territory was occupied. Remains of its bunkers, machine gun posts, artillery batteries and trenches still are there nowadays spread along Kowloon hills.
How to get there. You can take minibus departing from Tsuen Wan and arriving at Shing Mun reservoir. Taxi even higher up to the BBQ site next to the exit/entrance of the MacLehose section 6. Or hike up from Kwai Hing MTR station. All marked on the map above.
You will not walk much on the stair up MacLehose. Just after the mark M124 you will see a gutter going up the hill on your left. That is one of the many ways up to the tunnels.
Find an electric post and just meters from there you will see different entrances to the tunnels.
Several times you will go down stairs into the dark.
But it is not pitch dark almost anywhere with tons of ventilation holes
or broken ceiling from cannon shots.
Be careful with your steps. If you are quiet enough you will be able to see tons of creatures. Geckos and their eggs.
Even small bats.
Apart from that, I’ve also seen frogs and some centipedes (only “dangerous” animal around). If you are noisy though they will just escape and most surely you won’t even see them.
Keep the place clean. This is part of Hong Kong’s history. Sad first time I saw graffitis like this one…
There are signs set by conservation groups with some etiquette basics and directions. All the tunnels have carved London’s street and iconic places names + numbering: Regent street, Oxford, Piccadilly, etc.
Therefore you should be able to have a sense of where you are as soon as you spend some time within. If you have navigated all the tunnels correctly you will come up this one directly to MacLehose trail.
Next, there is another entrance, to Charing Cross, but every time I was around it was flooded with quite disgusting water… Continue MacLehose stairs up and you will arrive at the redoubt.
You can look around, and just next to it you have the entrance to the Smugglers’ Ridge. Some small sandy slippery segments on the ridge of the hill with views to Tsuen Wan and Shatin.
You will connect with the Wilson Trail. If you head up North you will go back again to Shing Mun reservoir. Instead, head South till you arrive at this fork. Go up, just next to the Kam Shan Family Walk.
Soon you will arrive at the entrance to another tunnel.
This is very simple, mainly a straight tunnel. But way less visited and therefore with more animals around.
Go in and back through the tunnel itself or using the lateral parallel path. You can connect with Wilson Trail and go to Tai Po road. On the map I included a bit longer route that allowed me to see all the reservoirs around. Easy paths on concrete or dirt.
A video with quite some of the things you can see.