The Dragon's Back - Hong Kong Island
Country - HongKong
Author - Peter Schofield
Length - 8.5 km / 5.3 miles
Most people think of Hong Kong as a densely populated urban area, but get out of the city and it belies this image with some fine countryside and excellent walks. It even boasts four "long distance" (by Hong Kong standards) trails and this walk is a scenic but easy section of one of them, the 50K Hong Kong Trail on Hong Kong Island. The route is well waymarked throughout its length.
To get to the start, take bus 9 (destination "Shek O") from Shau Kei Wan MTR station on the Island Line. When the bus turns left on to the Shek O road (after about fifteen minutes) look out for a parking area on the right and then press the bell for the next stop. (Miss it and it's a long walk back along a narrow busy road). The walk starts at a mapboard next to the bus stop.
Follow the clear path as it firstly climbs through bamboo trees before opening up to offer fine views back over Tai Tam Harbour and Lamma island. After about 500m, take the waymarked right turn to climb the steps up to the Dragons Back ridge. The reward? A stunning panorama in all directions west towards Tai Tam and Stanley and east over Shek O village and the South China Sea. The path winds it undulating way over the ridge past Shek O Peak giving good views back over Cape D'Aguilar while far below you can see your ultimate destination at Big Wave Bay. It then descends to a path junction where you turn right to continue along the path as it contours through pleasantly shady woodland for 2.5K before arriving at a water catchment works.
Descend a few yards to the water company road and turn right on to it (signposted "Big Wave Bay") following it as it contours around the hill. This being Hong Kong, you're never far away from civilisation as views briefly open out over the skyscrapers of Chai Wan and the unusual looking terraces of the hillside Chinese cemetery across to the mainland. The road finally ends at a turning circle where you need to bear left past the picnic site to descend a set of waymarked steep steps about 100m further on. The clear route descends steadily towards the small settlement of Big Wave Bay while to your right, you can look up to admire the impressive profile of the Dragons Back over which you've just walked.
Arriving at the small village of Big Wave Bay at the end of a fine walk, the attractive beach is 50m to your left if you fancy a refreshing swim on a hot day. Otherwise turn right where you'll find a couple of cafes offering welcoming food and drinks. To end the walk, follow the road up the hill out of the village where after 300m you arrive at a car park where a few buses on route 9 stop. If a bus is not due, continue along the road for a further 1K to the junction with the Shek O road. The bus stop served by all buses on route 9 is about 100m up the hill.
The use of public transport is strongly recommended as there is no parking either at or near the start of the walk. Route 9 operates at a 10-15 minute frequency during the day time and a timetable can be found here.
Editor's Note - from experience it can get very hot and humid in summer so can be very uncomfortable for walking.
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
Walking in Corsica
This guidebook gives details of three long-distance walking routes in Corsica - Mare e Monti, Mare-Mare Nord and Mare-Mare Sud - which cross the island, and also describes 18 day-walks in prime spots both in the rugged mountains of the interior and the softer southern coastal fringe. Good local information.
The GR20 Corsica
Guidebook to walking the GR20 through Corsica's high mountains. A challenging trail between Calenzana and Conca that includes hands-on scrambling, the 190km trek can be completed by fit walkers in about two weeks. The guidebook includes high and low-level alternatives, plus extra mountain climbs, and all you need to know for this tough route.