12 January 2020
Few people would remember that Lion Roack had been called Fu Tau Shan, meaning tiger’s head. Photo: HKEJ
Few people would remember that Lion Roack had been called Fu Tau Shan, meaning tiger’s head. Photo: HKEJ

Taking in Lion Rock from hilltops

Growing up in the shadow of Lion Rock, I have developed a strong affection for this magnificent mountain.

A hundred years ago, when the entire Kowloon Peninsula was a rural farmland, Lion Rock stood out from every angle.

But few people would remember that it had been called Fu Tau Shan, meaning tiger’s head.

It evolved into the lion we know today after the British signed a lease on the New Territories?with the Qing government in Peking on June 9, 1898.

In today’s land of skyscrapers that is Hong Kong, you would need to stand on a hilltop to fully admire Lion Rock. Here are a few vantage points:

1. Kowloon Peak

The east ridge of Kowloon Peak is mainly stone-paved, making it easy but quite tiring to go up. Walking up the 200-meter slope, I could glimpse the back of Pak Sha Wan in Sai Kung, where white yachts were like miniature models scattered in the water.

All of a sudden, I was taken aback by the re-emergence of Hong Kong’s man-made jungle in my sight. But here, following the path on the left would lead me to the top of Kowloon Peak, from which Sai Kung would be in the east, East Kowloon and Tathong Channel in the south and Victoria Harbor and the island in the west.

Lion Rock would be on the north ridges overlooking the city.

2. Mount Nicholson

A panoramic view of the Kowloon ridges could be seen from the top of Mount Nicholson, a 430-meter high mountain on Hong Kong Island.

Going up Black’s Link for around 20 minutes, hikers would arrive at a small pavilion. On the right is an almost unnoticeable path, which leads to the hilltop where a transmitting tower stands.

In the south are Deep Water Bay and Nam Long Shan, and Lamma Island in the distance, while in the near north is Happy Valley and across the harbor is Lion Rock.

3. Needle Hill

Needle Hill, or Cham Shan, is in the central New Territories, southeast of Tai Mo Shan, with an altitude of 532 meters.

As the name suggests, the way to the top is steep. Together with Sharp Peak and High Junk Peak, they form Hong Kong’s three sharpest summits. It’s the?perfect spot to enjoy the back of the lion.

4. Lion Rock

How could we not climb the mountain itself?

There are numerous ways up to the top and I would recommend section 5 of the MacLehose Trail, which covers the Kowloon ridges.

Starting from Sha Tin Pass at Tsz Wan Shan, regardless of whether you are aiming for the head or the tail of the lion, you would enjoy a complete view of Shatin — a new town developed in the 1970s.

It’s unbelievable that the tall buildings on both sides of Shing Mun River used to be mudflat.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 10.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ contributor