Tai O to Tung Chung, Lantau

There's a fairly long (ca 15km) but otherwise easy walk along the northwest coast of Lantau Island, between Tai O and Tung Chung. For roughly two-thirds of the route, it follows a coastline that for the time being is fairly wild - that is, before the Bloody Big Bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau is built; nearing Tung Chung, the path is close to Hong Kong International Airport, though is mostly still through distinctly rural areas.

tai o eastgreat egret tai o

Hiking northwest Lantau Island, Tai O to Tung Chung

From Tai O, the route follows the east shore of the main creek flowing through the village. One way of reaching this is via a footbridge upstream of Tai O; or there's a small footbridge within Tai O (from near bus station, cross the main footbridge, turn right, and walk around 200 metres, looking for a side path to the bridge, on the right.
yeung hau temple
Arriving at the coast of Lantau, the path runs opposite Yeung Hau Temple.
nw lantau trail
Then, the path turns uphill a little, to run along shrubby slopes above the shoreline. Signs warn of the path being impacted by erosion, and sections are above steep slopes, where chunks of land have been eroded away.
nw lantau
The path climbs, fairly gently, swings round a corner, and there are views along the coast, with Sham Wat hidden in a bay below, the airport visible offshore.
sham watsham wat aerial
Sham Wat is a hamlet at the head of the bay; some of the houses here have small, simple cafes catering to hikers (so best chance of them being open during Sundays and public holidays?) An oddity here is tv aerials out on the shore, with bases below the tideline: surely as in these positions, they can pick up signals better than if on houses.
shrine san shek wan
Up and on from Sham Wat, the route passes areas with small farms, some still occupied, some abandoned. There are old orchards, old fields, trees - making for a pleasant rural landscape.
sha lo wan
Sha Lo Wan, the main village along the route, looks like a classic New Territories village. WIth the airport close, there are often plane noises, but the planes and airport are mostly unobtrusive; the area still has distinctly rural character.

From Sha Lo Wan, there are paths to the coast, to vantages overlooking the western airport - should be great for plane spotters.
airport vantage
Further on, vegetation still mostly hides views of the airport; but there is this viewing area, where you can rest and watch planes landing, taking off, and taxiing hither and thither.
san tau lantau
Even with Tung Chung now very close by, the area is still rural, reminding me of the backwater I knew when I first came to Tung Chung in the late 1980s. After this place - San Tau - the route follows a narrow road, and runs under the Ngong Ping Cable Car (Skyrail).

Then, there's a path down to a still marshy area with mangroves.
tung chung reflections
Just before a bridge over a creek, there is a rough track on the left, along the shore of Tung Chung Bay - with views across to the Tung Chung new town.
hau wong temple

Across the bridge, on the left, is Hau Wong Temple, built around 1765, and honouring a general who protected the last emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty.
yat tung creekyat tung estate bikes 
Then, there's another bridge over a creek - but this place seems far more urban, albeit still seems something of a forgotten part of Hong Kong (forgotten, that is, by folks other than those who live there).

Heading towards Tung Chung MTR station, the route runs alongside a highway behind Tat Tung Estate - where there is a series of cycle parks, with rotting corpses of cycles: a sad end to an otherwise pleasant hike.

Martin Williams

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