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

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

Aug 6th, 2006, 10:36 PM
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Cicerone's Favourite Hong Kong Walks: Severn Road, The Peak

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/...king/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.


Cicerone is offline  
Aug 7th, 2006, 05:06 PM
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Hi Cicerone,

What a wonderful gift that you have given us! Thank you so much for sharing your favorite walks with us! I am particularly keen on the Severn Road/the Peak walk as it's likely we will be there in HK in June so that an hour walk is probably what we can best handle (as the knees may not cooperate with the Wilson Trail #1 from Park View to Stanley given all the stairs)...the views described sound divine! Your report will go in my file...another "must do" when I plan our Hong Kong trip! Another thing to look forward to, can't wait.

Terry
terryr is offline  
Aug 8th, 2006, 03:40 PM
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Thank you Cicerone. It looks great. I have already copied it into my Palm Pilot. I can't wait until we leave for our 12 day China tour in 5 weeks followed by 12 days in HK (Sept 27-Oct 8).

This will give us something different to do though we will be doing the Languard walk since we have friends for the first 5 days. Also the Sai Kong walk to Tai Long Wan, which is something we always do followed by a lobster dinner in town.

Thanks again!
BettyInToronto is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 08:05 PM
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Cicerone,
Thanks for your very clear instructions. It was beautiful. I would not have noticed the houses had you not pointed them out. I think the house at the first switch-back (11 Barker Rd) with the jaw-dropping views is occupied by the a HK govt official as there seems to be a HK flag hoisted there. 20 Barker Road is an intriguing house indeed. I saw several dogs lounging there when I walked by. The history of these houses must be fascinating. One small note - I couldn't find Pollock Path or Plunkett Road - instead I stumbled onto Plantation Rd from where I walked back to the Peak Galleria building. There was a huge grey-colored apartment complex (no doubt expensive but very unattractive) on this road. How can I be sure to get onto Pollock's Path next time?
Sophia
SophiaMaple is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 01:21 AM
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What I call Pollack’s Path in my directions above (“intersect with Pollack’s Path. Go LEFT….”) may actually have a street sign which says Plantation Road at that intersection, as the road changes name at some point, and my directions may be technically incorrect, as I thought the name change occurred after that intersection. I also think that farther on what I have written as Plunkett’s Road may actually be called Mt Kellet Road at that intersection; again the name changes to Plunkett’s Road at a later point. I thought I had noted the street sign names correctly, but perhaps not, I can check. Sorry for any confusion.

I am not sure which “grey-colored apartment complex” you are referring to (as there are a number of ugly buildings up there) but if there were on the right and up on a little rise then yes you were on what I call Pollack’s Path and what the street signs may have said was Plantation Road.

The yellow house with the dogs which I refer to in my post is actually #20 Severen Road, not #20 Barker as you mention in your post, so I am assuming you were actually up on Severen…but it sounds like you were. Hope you had a clear day.

Next time you do the walk, be sure to look out for #12 Barker Road which may be the nicest private house in Hong Kong. I missed this house for months when doing this walk as it is somewhat hidden by trees, but it isan enormous house in light red brick with a huge pool. You can start to see which literally hangs in the trees over to the left after you come around the curve past #22. This year that have what appears to be a 2 storey Christmas tree in what I think is their foyer, but without binoculars it is hard to make out details on the house. You can then get glimpses of the house as you continue on, and see the very long driveway as it comes out to meet the road. A garment manufacturer and real estate tycoon named Tien Pei Chun lives there, he also has a somewhat chequered political history here in Hong Kong. I have read that #14 is the house where the former manger of the Peak Tram used to live when the company provided housing for that position.

Cicerone is offline  
Feb 12th, 2009, 11:53 AM
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I've just booked a 2-1/2 week trip to HK in late October for my wife and I (kind of a 25th anniversary and retirement present to us). We'll be visiting and staying with an old friend of my wife's who is a teacher at the CDIS in Aberdeen and lives in DB. Although she (the host) has been there for a year now I think I must take my laptop so I can access Cicerone's posts (guidebooks?)! Certainly the laptop would be lighter than printing them all up on paper! Superb stuff. Thanks so much.

One quick question: does it make sense for me to pack a GPS with the appropriate maps for HK or is that just unneccesary weight and aggravation?
Tootsall is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 03:13 AM
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Well, you should have some excellent walking and hiking weather at the end of October, air pollution issues notwithstanding. But dry and not hot and low humidity. As for the posts, actually, if you print them out double sided, they aren’t that long, and of course you aren’t going to be bringing the laptop ON the walks, so you might want printed versions in any event. You can also print them out two pages per side, and also double sided, but the print is pretty small I will admit. Also, consider using the internet cafes here like Pacific Coffee Company or MIX if you don’t want to lug the laptop. There are two Pacific Coffee outlets in DB see http://www.pacificcoffee.com/eng/sto...sto_hklan.html, for MIX see http://www.mix-world.com.

If your friends do not already have them, they should buy a set of the “Countryside Series” of maps for each area of Hong Kong. These are very good detailed maps that most hikers use. They rate major trails by difficulty and provide time and distance estimates. They cost like HK$10 each. There is one for Hong Kong Island, one for Lantau, and two for the New Territories, divided into east and west. You can buy them at Government Publications Office, located in the Murray Building, Room 402, 22 Garden Road (tel 2537-1910). This is an office building right next to the bottom station for the Peak Tram. These maps are usually also available at Dymocks bookshops which I have already mentioned above.

I am fairly ignorant as to how GPS works, I assume it would give you an idea of where you are on the trail. But if you have a good map, you should know roughly where you are in any event. Major trails have distance markers, which are also noted on the trail maps, so you can generally always tell roughly where you are. Trails are also well signposted with directions to major sights and to trail endpoints given in both time and distance. I assume that the GPS won’t be able to tell you how to proceed along the trail, i.e., it’s not like the system on a car which tells you to turn right or left to get to your destination. So I am not sure how useful it would be if all it can tell you is where you are on the trail, which you may know already by lookinig at distance markers or landmarks noted on the map. But if the gadget is not heavy, I don’t see any reason not to bring it and it could be fun; although I have to say I don’t know anyone who uses one while hiking here, it really is not a wilderness or anything. For the most part, you get very good cell phone coverage on trails, it fades in out and in some places, but generally coverage is good; I would imagine you need some reception for the GPS to work as well, but perhaps I am wrong. I think a working cellphone is more important to have in case someone gets hurt. And between room/weight in a backpack for a GPS versus another bottle of water, I would always opt for the water.

As you will be based on Lantau at DB, I have some suggestions for walking there, as I have spent most weekends during the last half year walking almost exclusively on Lantau. I also have a few further suggestions for walks on Hong Kong Island. If you want to e-mail me at [email protected], I would be happy to give you some suggestions. (Otherwise, these posts just get too long and detailed for the average reader I think; this is the new approach I have decided to take for some posts, esp re walking advice. But I would be happy to post them here if you would prefer.)
Cicerone is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 06:55 AM
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Once again a great response. Actually I had not considered using the GPS for "trail hiking" but rather to help us find our way around while walking through downtown areas etc. (They use different satellites from cell phones and are generally accurate within about 4 meters) As it turns out we've been in communication with our friends and they say GPS not necessary. So that's one less bit of electronic junk to pack!

Weather? We live in southern Alberta, Canada; almost a desert climate so "dry" and 20-30C we are very used to (along with -30C!) No worries there. We'll also have use of a "loaner" cell phone.

Thanks again for the assistance.
Tootsall is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 10:09 PM
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cafegoddess is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 04:09 AM
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Hi Cicerone

Wow - what a wonderful relief to find a guide to doing something other than shopping and those night markets (where I later regretted spending so much money on shoes and felt guilty all the rest of my last trip! Silly me.)

Anyway thank you. I am thinking to do the Severn walk on my 2 night stopover in June I aways find the time diff a real challenge, especially since I'm not in top-health, but nonetheless I think this walk could be a nice and refreshing way to spend what time I do have in HK. I'm staying at the YMCA Salisbury for 2 nights (June 2 and 3) so hopefully can do it on the day of the 3rd.

How long does it take?

Thanks

Rosie
Rosieharford is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 07:48 PM
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As I mention above, done at a strolling pace with stops to take pictures and enjoy views, this walk should take 45 minutes to an hour. There is one uphill portion that is steep but not very long, otherwise you are downhill or on the flat for the walk.
Cicerone is offline  
May 6th, 2011, 07:02 AM
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It's a great walk. We did it last time we were in Hong Kong. Including stopping to take photos, our stroll was about an hour.
Kathie is offline  
May 15th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Thank you!
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