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Water, Water Everywhere....

Exploring Tai Tam.

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Today I decided to go to Tai Tam, which is Chinese for big pool. Tai Tam Country Park is huge. It occupies around 1,315 hectares, about one fifth of the whole area of Hong Kong Island and it is home to four important reservoirs. I did not visit all four, but the reservoirs are: Tai Tam Upper Reservoir, Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir, Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir and Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir.

These reservoirs were planned from as long ago as 1872, but due to an economic depression, building work did not begin until ten years later in 1882. Three of the reservoirs were completed by 1888. However, because of Hong Kong's expanding population, the water supply they provided was insufficient, so the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir had to be built, too. The construction of the Tai Tam Tuk Dam began in 1912 and was finished by 1917. Jointly the four reservoirs have a capacity of 6.2 million cubic metres. All four of the reservoirs are managed by the Water Supplies Department of Hong Kong.

To get to Tai Tam I travelled to Sai Wan Ho MTR Station, exited through exit A and then took a number 14 bus which goes all the way to Stanley Fort. I got off the bus at Tai Tam Reservoir North and headed down lots of steps for a walk along Tai Tam Harbour first. If I had stayed on the bus, it would have crossed over the top of Tai Tam Dam, which is pretty spectacular, and I could have got off at Tai Tam Country Park on the other side. If I had crossed the road and walked away from the dam, I could have entered the country park via an alternative route. There are always so many choices of where to go when out walking here.

Once I got down the stairs to the harbour, I had an excellent view of the Tai Tam Tuk Dam. This dam was designed by Daniel Jaffe; after whom Jaffe Road in Wan Chai is named. The Tai Tam Tuk Dam is sixty feet tall, eight hundred feet wide and has twelve arches. Tai Tam Road which connects Stanley and Chai Wan passes right over the top of the dam, providing views of the reservoir in one direction and of the harbour in the other.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

When Tai Tam Tuk Dam was constructed, the Hakka village of Tytam Took had to be submerged. The villagers were moved to a new village on Tai Tam Tuk Harbour in 1912. When I walked through the new village today, I noticed some very posh houses.

Archaeologists have found six bricks and mortar wells or caissons under the water in Tai Tam. These were dug by hand to a depth of about twenty metres as part of the ground investigation for the dam's construction. They've also uncovered artefacts such as opium pots, aerated water containers and soy sauce dishes which sank to the bottom of the water when Tytam Took was submerged.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Posh house in the new Tai Tam Village.

Posh house in the new Tai Tam Village.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour. The circular building in the picture is one of the caissons.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour. The circular building in the picture is one of the caissons.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Don't forget your wellies.

Don't forget your wellies.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Hong Kong International School.

Hong Kong International School.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

There's a Waterworks Heritage Trail around the reservoirs with twenty-one points of historical interest. I did not follow it, but on my walk I came across bits and pieces of it. The first part was the Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station, which dates from 1907 and is located on Tai Tam Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station.

Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station.

After exploring the harbour, I headed off to the country park. On the way I passed a very beautiful tree. The fruit growing on it look so much like apples, though obviously they aren't. After looking at it, I climbed up to the main road and entered the country park.

Beautiful tree, apparently it is a cluster fig tree.

Beautiful tree, apparently it is a cluster fig tree.

Beautiful tree.

Beautiful tree.

Tai Tam Country Park.

Tai Tam Country Park.

Lots of trails go through the Tai Tam Country Park so it's always difficult to decide where you want to go. There's just too much choice. I largely just stayed around the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir, but I noted some ways I'd like to explore on future visits. There's a good view back towards the top of the dam and the road that crosses over the top of it from the entrance to the country park. I was quite intrigued to notice a set of stairs leading straight into a pool, too.

Looking back at the dam.

Looking back at the dam.

Looking back at the dam.

Looking back at the dam.

Be careful of that last step.

Be careful of that last step.

On the walk around Tai Tam Tuk reservoir there are four lovely masonry bridges, which date from 1907. These cross several significant stream beds. Each of the bridges has granite arches and huge columns, though it's only possible to see bridge one and four. There's no viewing point for bridge two and three so you can only see the top part.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

It took me a while to find a good viewing point for the fourth bridge as so much of the country park is taped off to stop people barbecuing and having picnics there due to Covid. I ended up viewing it in both directions.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge viewed from down stream.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge viewed from down stream.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge with Tai Tam Intermediate dam behind it.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge with Tai Tam Intermediate dam behind it.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

Crossing one of the other bridges.

Crossing one of the other bridges.

There were also beautiful views out over the reservoir from the top of the bridges.

View across the reservoir towards Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

View across the reservoir towards Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across a reservoir.

View across a reservoir.

Behind the fourth masonry bridge stands Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam, which was built between 1904 and 1907. It has a stilling pond with concrete side walls and tubular steel guard rails. In 1977 this dam’s spillway was lowered by 3 metres for safety reasons. I noticed people walking along the top of this dam. I should probably have climbed up the steep stairs and joined them - if this was possible - as there must have been a good view from up there.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

After the fourth masonry bridge I found the path that would take me along a stream and back to Tai Tam Road, but instead of taking it, I walked on a bit further enjoying the shady tree-lined paths, the odd sign here and there of autumn and views down towards a stream. Then I decided I would return the way I had come because I knew it ended in a bus-stop. In fact I would have reached a bus-stop on either of the paths.

Autumn Colours.

Autumn Colours.

Autumn Colours.

Autumn Colours.

Looking down at streams and waterfalls.

Looking down at streams and waterfalls.

Wandering shady paths.

Wandering shady paths.

I just missed the first very crowded 14 bus back to Sai Wan Ho, then was delighted to see an empty minibus heading for Chai Wan MTR pull in, so I got on that and began my long journey back home. Chai Wan is the last stop at the eastern end of the Island Line so I knew I'd get a seat for this stretch of the journey - luxury on a Sunday.

When I reach Sunny Bay Station, I know I'm almost home.

When I reach Sunny Bay Station, I know I'm almost home.

Posted by irenevt 06:05 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

What a nice sunday walk! I wouldn't been able to decide where to go, the park looked so interesting everywhere :)

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna, I pretty much had that problem. I think there are around 18 different trails there. I'll have to go back some time.

by irenevt

Looked like the reservoirs were a bit low. Is that seasonal? It's a beautiful park. It looks so wild there. Hard to believe all those skyscrapers are so near.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, this is the end of the dry season so it hasn't rained for months. Once it starts it will go on continuously.

by irenevt

Very impressive dams, lovely views and I like that cluster fig tree :) I have a feeling I've seen them somewhere so will have to try to remember where!

by ToonSarah

Hi Sarah, I'm sure I've seen those trees before too somewhere. Maybe here, maybe somewhere else. Hope all good with you.

by irenevt

Yes, all fine here Irene, apart from boredom!

by ToonSarah

Let's hope the vaccine might start to make a difference soon.

by irenevt

Let's hope so - there are small signs the numbers are coming down slightly. But we'll be in lockdown for sure until early March, they say :(

by ToonSarah

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