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Cicerone's Favourite Hong Kong Walks: Severn Road, The Peak

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BettyinToronto had asked that I post on my favourite easy walk on the Peak, which is Severn Road. The walk is below. There are so many good walks on Hong Kong Island and on Kowloon as well, I would encourage anyone who is planning a trip there to look at the website of the parks dept at http://www.afcd.gov.hk/parks/trails/Eng/hiking/index.htm for ideas. There is an amateur group of hikers and you can join their walks, take a look at http://www.hktrampers.com. There are many good walking guides for Hong Kong, you can find them in local book stores, Dymocks bookstores is a good place to look, take a look at dymocks.com.au for locations, also Bookazine bookstores usually have a good selection, go to http://www.bookazine.com.hk for locations. There is also a group which does sponsored walks, I don't' know anything about them or their reputation but look at http://www.walkhongkong.com.

If you are considering a trip from about the beginning of April until about the first week in October, note that it is VERY hot and humid here during that time, so if you plan to do a more strenuous hike, go out early in the morning and be done by 10 or 10:30 if you can. My absolutely favorite walk on Hong Kong Island is the Wilson Trail #1 stage from Park View to Stanley, but this is a very tough walk that takes about 3 hours and has lots of stairs and is doubly hard in the summer months when it is so hot and humid. In the winter months, however, this walk is more doable, albeit still tough, and at any time of year you are rewarded with tremendous views and a great breakfast or lunch in Stanley. (Not for people with bad knees, there are something over 5,000 steps of stairs.)

Severn Road, The Peak (via Barker Road)

There is no one "correct" way to do this walk, the route below is my favourite because it gives the best opportunity for views IMO. I find that the views from other routes are blocked by thick trees. Also, the Barker Road portion offers a good opportunity to see (and take photos) of the Peak Tram tracks and the station.

I would only do this walk on a clear day, as otherwise you might not appreciate the views, although to see some of the real estate might be worth the walk itself. There are almost never any cars and very few people so you will have it pretty much to yourself, which is a nice change from Lugard which can be crowded, esp on weekends. Even if you take this walk in the cool months, bring a bottle of water. It is not strenuous except for one short uphill bit, which if taken slowly is perfectly easy to do. There is a Pacific Coffee Company in the Peak Tram station which sells water (and has THE view), there is also a Deli France and a Park N Shop in the Peak Galleria which sells bottled water. Done as a stroll with stops for looks and photos, it might take an hour, but probably a bit less.

You could do this walk in reverse, but then at the end you have to walk uphill on Findlay Path to the Peak Tram station, which IMO is steeper and longer than the uphill portion of Lloyd Path, so doing it in reverse won't help you to avoid any hills. Also, due to curving roads, the views seems a little more "in front" of you doing it via Barker Road first, i.e. you won't be looking over your shoulder so much for views. (If you do the walk in reverse, at the Baker Road Tram station, the sign at the bottom says Plantation Road, not Findlay Path, take this up to the first intersection with a concrete path, about 40 feet up, this is Findlay Path, go right here and follow this path up to the Peak Tram station.)

Route Details

Once you have taken the Peak Tram from Central to the top station and had a look around and are ready for a walk, then in the plaza facing the Peak Tram station with the brown Peak Galleria shopping mall and fountain at your back, you will see three entrance doors to the Peak Tram station. One is an entrance to the mall on the left (says" Peak Tower"), one is in the middle and is the actual entrance for the Peak Tram itself (says "Peak Tram"), and then further down on the right is a third entrance to the mall (also says "Peak Tower", the Pacific Coffee Company mentioned above is entered through these doors, it has quite a view and a small outdoor terrace). To the right of these third set of glass entrance doors, and INSIDE the fence, you will see a sidewalk going straight downhill alongside the tram tracks. Take this sidewalk. (You may notice a sign on the inside of the fence which says Findlay Path, this is the path you want, you do NOT want Findlay Road, which is outside the fence). Follow Findlay Path downhill as it winds around (good views at several points), you will bear LEFT twice as you head downhill. You will then intersect with a flat road with white lines painted on it and will see a very low-roofed white building in front of you and across the street. The street is Barker Road and the building is the Barker Road Tram stop. Go RIGHT onto Barker Road, away from the tram tracks which are running uphill behind you.

You will walk along Barker Road for about 1.2 kilometers, passing many apartments and houses. At #28 on your left, go down the driveway a few feet and you can get a very good view (and photo) of the steep incline and curve of the tram tracks going uphill, the Barker Road tram stop straddling the tracks and the Peak tram stop. If you wait a few minutes you will invariably see a tram going up or down as well. I like #22 which has probably the finest private lawn on Hong Kong island, or at least the lawn with the best view (lawnmowers are a status symbol here). Keep going and you will come around a corner and see a large old brick building on your right, this is the Victorian-era hospital. Just before and past numbers 12 and 10 on your left are some very good views. Just past Number 10 on your left, start looking for a set of concrete stairs on your RIGHT and a small black and white sign which says "Lloyd Path". This is the pedestrian path which will lead up to Severn Road. This is a little steep in parts, but if you take it slow is not bad at all. There are two switchbacks. At the first switchback is some lucky person's house with a terrace and jaw-dropping views of the harbour. Follow up for one more switch-back and then uphill for 60 feet or so until you intersect with Severn Road proper, which is a flat road. Go LEFT here. There are some very good harbour and city views on your right. One of the first houses you will come to, #20, the big yellow house on your right, is quite a pile, I call it the Chinese Miss Havisham's house, as I can imagine an ancient Chinese bride sitting inside that once magnificent but now rather tumble-down place. Following the road around, at number 26 and 28 are what I think are the best views, you will see Aberdeen and its typhoon harbour in front of you, and Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, Stanley and the Skek O headland off to your left. You will almost always see half a dozen tankers or huge containers ships coming up the Lamma channel in front of you as well as all the little outlying islands scattered to the north and west. Just past # 29 is one last open area and then the best views will really be over, so if you want to go back for last looks, you should. Keep following the road around, it will curve right, go up an incline and intersect with Pollock's Path. Go LEFT here. Continue along this road, after a quarter mile or so it will intersect with Plunkett's Road, go LEFT down a sharp curving hill here. About 30 feet or after this there is another intersection, go RIGHT here (one-way against traffic) onto Plunket's Path (same road name). Continue along this narrow road as it parallels busy Peak Road for 200-300 yards. You will pass a small shopping mall called 100 Peak Road on the right, there is a realtor's office on the ground floor (red awnings), take a look at the rental and sale prices for the neighborhood... Looking left across Peak Road you will see some fine south side water views above the trees. As you approach the back of the Peak Galleria building, you will see a flight of stairs on the left which go down onto Peak Road, or you can go bear right, walk about 10 feet and take a small bridge on the left and then cross the open plaza and go into the back of the Peak Galleria shopping centre. (Restrooms are here, the 2nd or 3rd floor, extremely clean.) Either way you will eventually find yourself back in the plaza in front of the Peak Tram station.

From Barker Road Tram Stop to Severn Road

If you have already been to the Peak before and have done Lugard Road, etc, you could just take the Peak Tram from Central to the Barker Road stop, which is one stop before the top; that way you could skip the crowds at the top and the downhill portion of Findlay Path to Barker Road. You have to tell the driver you want to get out at Barker Road, and I believe you have to be in the first car, as the station is too small to exit from the second car. Once out of the station, walk across the tracks to Baker Road and follow directions from Baker Road, above.

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