A Travellerspoint blog

Monkey Business at the Fortified Gate

A Walk Around the Shing Mun Reservoir.

semi-overcast

Reservoir Views.

Reservoir Views.

Yesterday I decided to go for a walk around the Shing Mun Reservoir. To get there I took the MTR to Tsuen Wan, exited through exit B1, walked to Shui Wo Street and took minibus 82 to its last stop next to the reservoir. This was the same route I used when I went to the Gin Drinkers' Line last year, though as that was a Sunday, I had to queue for an hour. This time I got straight on board a minibus and even had to wait a while for it to fill before the driver would leave.

As our minibus neared the reservoir, suddenly a large monkey ran across the road right in front of us, then disappeared up and over a wall. This brought back memories, because this is the second time I have chosen to do a walk famous for its huge wild monkey population and though they are cute, I must admit I am also a bit scared of them. If I know I am going into an area with wild monkeys, I will not have a single item of food with me. Last walk I watched a monkey leap onto a guy's back to get into his rucksack. None of them came anywhere near me that walk and I was hoping they wouldn't come near this time either!!!

Before I started walking, I took a photo of the lovely door that marks the entry to the Shing Mun Reservoir route. Then I headed up a monkey-themed staircase.

Shing Mun Reservoir Door Sign.

Shing Mun Reservoir Door Sign.

Monkey Staircase.

Monkey Staircase.

Monkey Staircase detail.

Monkey Staircase detail.

The Shing Mun Reservoirs are located in an area between Tsuen Wan and Sha Tin. There's an upper reservoir and a lower reservoir. I was only planning on walking around the much larger upper one which takes around three hours.

At one time this area was a fertile valley with several farming villages where Hakka people grew rice, tea and pineapples. However, Hong Kong needed more fresh water, so the villagers were relocated and in 1933 construction work began on a dam, which would be 122 metres wide and 85 metres high. The resulting reservoir which flooded the valley has a capacity of over thirteen billion litres. This reservoir was originally called Jubilee Reservoir to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V, but was later referred to as Shing Mun. This was a much older name for the area and means Fortified Gate, as apparently hundreds of years ago a fort was located in this area.

I only intended to walk round the reservoir this time, but there are many walks here including stretches of the Maclehose and Wilson trails.

At the top of the stairs, I set off along the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail, so called because pineapple farms were located here before the creation of the reservoir. The Pineapple Dam Nature Trail is a beautiful dirt track which crosses streams, passes little waterfalls and has the occasional lovely view over the reservoir. On my last visit it was covered everywhere in monkeys. This time there wasn't a single monkey anywhere around. I wondered if it was due to the rather damp drizzly weather, but I wasn't complaining, because, as I said, I'm a little nervous around all these monkeys. What amazes me about this area, and indeed the entire trail, is that it is filled with picnic sites. Who on Earth would be brave enough to try and eat a picnic with a battalion of macaques about to pounce on them?

Signpost for the trail.

Signpost for the trail.

View of the Reservoir from the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail.

View of the Reservoir from the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail.

Fellow Hikers.

Fellow Hikers.

Bubbling Streams.

Bubbling Streams.

At the end of the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail, I climbed some steps up to a paved road. I went right and began my round the reservoir hike. I have done a lot of Hong Kong reservoir walks now and each has its own character. The Shing Mun Reservoir is famous for two things: macaques and paperbark trees. I was about to enter the world of the paperbark tree.

The paperbark tree is a member of the myrtle family. It grows in swamps, in floodplains and near rivers. It has white, peeling, paperlike bark. On this walk, first there is a beautiful corridor lined with these trees. Then, off to the right, there is a sign pointing out waterside paperbark tree. In winter, which is when I visited, water levels in the reservoir are low and the roots of these trees are very exposed. In summer, when it rains copiously every other day, the water level rises and these trees become completely surrounded by water. In both seasons, they look stunning.

The Paperbark Corridor.

The Paperbark Corridor.

A good spot for a photo.

A good spot for a photo.

Sign for the Waterside Paperbarks.

Sign for the Waterside Paperbarks.

People flock here to photograph the beautiful trees.

People flock here to photograph the beautiful trees.

The trees have white trunks and paperlike peeling bark.

The trees have white trunks and paperlike peeling bark.

Close-up of the tree trunks.

Close-up of the tree trunks.

In winter they have exposed Roots.

In winter they have exposed Roots.

Trees line the banks.

Trees line the banks.

Trees and Reservoir.

Trees and Reservoir.

Trees line the shores.

Trees line the shores.

A Beautiful Spot to Rest and Relax.

A Beautiful Spot to Rest and Relax.

Tranquility.

Tranquility.

Reflections.

Reflections.

Roots.

Roots.

Islands.

Islands.

Photo from internet showing paperbark trees after summer rains

Photo from internet showing paperbark trees after summer rains

I wandered past gurgling streams, serene picnic sites and beautiful plants. All I could hear was the trickle of water and occasionally a sudden shower of rain that came and went in moments. Every now and again a bird would dart past on its way from tree to tree. Still no sign of any mischievous monkeys. Thank goodness. Eventually, next to one of the picnic sites, I noticed a path down to a beautiful grassy meadow by the still, blue waters of the reservoir. I wandered along it to enjoy the calm greenery of my surroundings.

Stream.

Stream.

A Splash of Colour.

A Splash of Colour.

Picnic Sites.

Picnic Sites.

Ferns.

Ferns.

Sudden Rainfall on a Pool.

Sudden Rainfall on a Pool.

Fallen tree in grassy meadow.

Fallen tree in grassy meadow.

Water Inlet by the Meadow.

Water Inlet by the Meadow.

Log pile.

Log pile.

After relaxing here for a short while, I continued on round the reservoir At one point I took a short diversion to a lookout point. This lookout point has a little shelter where it is possible to take a rest. It also has spectacular views over the reservoir and towards Tsuen Wan. Below the lookout point sits a little leisure deck. I decided to take a detour to see what it was like.To get there, I wandered down some stairs and along a path. There were beautiful views on the way. When I reached the leisure deck, there were a couple of people exercising there. The views from here were beautiful and there were more steps down towards the water. I did not take these as I didn't want to have to climb all the way back up, though I learned later that I could have walked all the way to a little path that led to the main dam from here. I'm sure it would have been lovely, but then my way was lovely, too, so it didn't matter.

Shelter at the lookout point.

Shelter at the lookout point.

Looking towards the leisure deck.

Looking towards the leisure deck.

Mountains all around.

Mountains all around.

Sign for the leisure deck.

Sign for the leisure deck.

View over the reservoir on the way to the leisure deck.

View over the reservoir on the way to the leisure deck.

View over the reservoir on the way to the leisure deck.

View over the reservoir on the way to the leisure deck.

View over the reservoir on the way to the leisure deck.

View over the reservoir on the way to the leisure deck.

The Path to the Leisure Deck.

The Path to the Leisure Deck.

View over the Shing Mun Reservoir from the Shing Mun Leisure Deck, Hong Kong.

View over the Shing Mun Reservoir from the Shing Mun Leisure Deck, Hong Kong.

View over the Shing Mun Reservoir from the Shing Mun Leisure Deck.

View over the Shing Mun Reservoir from the Shing Mun Leisure Deck.

The next part had a few up and down sections. I loved the little stairways that led up the mountain through the thick jungle foliage. There were lots of these. At one point I passed a huge important looking grave. Not sure who was buried there. Eventually, I reached another viewpoint with seats. Again the view was wonderful. From here it was mainly downhill. I passed the trailhead for Maclehose Section Seven and then I was at the main dam. The walk was nearly over. Still no sign of any monkeys.

I loved these mysterious little stairways which were scattered around.

I loved these mysterious little stairways which were scattered around.

Jungle stairways.

Jungle stairways.

This huge grave was in an extremely scenic spot on the trail.

This huge grave was in an extremely scenic spot on the trail.

One of the many picnic sites which line the reservoir.

One of the many picnic sites which line the reservoir.

View from the next viewpoint.

View from the next viewpoint.

Selfie at the next viewpoint.

Selfie at the next viewpoint.

Section 7 of the Maclehose Trail which goes  up Needle Hill and on to the Tai Po.

Section 7 of the Maclehose Trail which goes up Needle Hill and on to the Tai Po.

The main dam is very impressive. It separates the Upper Shing Mun and Lower Shing Mun Reservoirs. It is, as I mentioned before, 122 metres wide and 85 metres high. The water from here was used to provide drinking water for this area and for Hong Kong Island. There are good views from here over the reservoir on one side and over the Shing Mun Gorge on the other.

At the main dam.

At the main dam.

Across the glory hole towards the dam.

Across the glory hole towards the dam.

Tower and Reflections.

Tower and Reflections.

Looking across the dam.

Looking across the dam.

View over the Shing Mun Gorge.

View over the Shing Mun Gorge.

Looking towards the Lower Shing Mun Reservoir which here is largely hidden by foliage.

Looking towards the Lower Shing Mun Reservoir which here is largely hidden by foliage.

Dam Wall.

Dam Wall.

Looking back across the dam from the far side.

Looking back across the dam from the far side.

Huge Plaque telling the history of the dam.

Huge Plaque telling the history of the dam.

At the far side of the dam, I heard a rustling sound. I looked round and there was a monkey in the trees. It suddenly leapt down and started walking along the fence right next to me. I was pleased that at least I could see one and take a photo of it. After all it was only one. How scary could that be? More rustling. "Ah!" I thought. "Even better two monkeys." Then something else was moving in the trees. Three, four, five monkeys. I took some pictures. To my surprise noone else seemed to show any interest at all in the monkeys.

I paid a visit to the nearby toilet, took a photo of the entry to Maclehose Stage Six where the war relics that make up part of the Gin Drinkers Line are, then started to walk the short distance back to the minibus stop. On the way, to my astonishment, I saw that the trees were filled with monkeys, there was a hut with at least ten monkeys running around on its roof, the concreted over slopes were crawling with monkeys who seemed to be using at as a makeshift slide, a picnic site cordoned off for COVID was swarming with monkeys. No wonder noone else had been paying attention to the first monkeys I had seen. They had just walked past masses of them.

Monkey on a fence.

Monkey on a fence.

Looking for fleas.

Looking for fleas.

Looking for fleas.

Looking for fleas.

I'm king of the castle.

I'm king of the castle.

I guess noone told these monkeys this picnic site was shut.

I guess noone told these monkeys this picnic site was shut.

So fine me then. I don't care.

So fine me then. I don't care.

Monkeying around.

Monkeying around.

Through the bars.

Through the bars.

I've gotta get out of this place.

I've gotta get out of this place.

At last I reached the minibus and headed for home. On the way back the minibus stopped next to this lovely mural. Quite pretty, I thought and that was the end of a very relaxing day out.

Floral Mural.

Floral Mural.

Posted by irenevt 15:03 Archived in Hong Kong

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Great title! :)

I think that of the reservoirs you have blogged about, this is my favorite, so serene-looking! :) Wouldn't take picnic there though :D

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna,

I really like that each reservoir has its own distinct character and this one is just so peaceful. I might go back and do one of the other trails here, too.

All the best.

by irenevt

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login