Sam A Tsuen (三椏村)

There's a village house in Sam A Tsuen, on the coast of the northeast New Territories, that has become a small restaurant and hostel for hikers. The Fook Lee Teahouse is a great place to halt for a meal while hiking through the area, such as following a route through Lai Chi Wo, but is also a top place for an overnight stay, and can be reached by an easy and very pleasant hike. This hike might take only a couple of hours, but there are places to linger, and if you only head for Sam A Tsuen, you might spend four hours or more getting there.

The hike starts at Wu Kau Tang, which is accessible by road, though has only an infrequent minibus service. Here, there's a concrete path leading southeast initially, towards Sam A Chung. This passes alongside a stream, shaded by clusters of tall dense bamboo, and woodland.

Soon, there's an open area at Kau Kam Tso, where long abandoned fields are overgrown with scrub. A left turn leads to a terrace of houses that have been left empty. The doors to some are locked, though you can peer in through windows and see furniture and pictures. Some are open, and you can step carefully inside: with bowls, flasks, photos on walls and so forth, it seems people just upped and left, leaving many of their belongings behind.

marshy valley nr wu kau tang

The trail now leads gently uphill. passes the upper reaches of the stream to enter a valley with scrub and grassland. The valley bottom is marshy in places; there are pillar like stepping stones across damp patches.

Continuing east, the valley now starts dipping towards the east; water gathering here feeds a stream that drops eastwards, to the shore of Double Haven. The path mostly follows the growing stream to the coast.

cascade above sam a chung

There's another stretch through woodland, then another area of scrubby hillside. Here, on the left, there's a splendid series of small cascades, as the stream plunges down through layers of sedimentary rock. It's a great place to be halt, and maybe cool off in the pools on a hot day. But be careful: where the rock layers are wet, they are very slippery.

pool above sam a chung

The path drops, too, down flights of stone steps, with the stream heard but mostly not seen in a ravine to the left. Then, as the slope eases, there are more stretches through woodland, with the gentle stream forming picturesque pools. Fish are plentiful here, and you may see Hong Kong Newts - which are endemic to Hong Kong and nearby south China.

sam a chung

Soon, the path arrives at Sam A Chung. There's little evidence of the hamlet that was once here. "Chung" means tidal stream, and the stream here is fringed by low mangrove trees, with crabs and crab burrows beneath. The stream curves through an inlet, which is a scenic place for strolling across at low tide, though there are rough stones and squelchy muddy patches.

sam a tsuen

From Sam A Chung the path heads due north, across country. It arrives at a small tidal inlet, skirts a tiny rocky headland, and continues north along an old artificial causeway, at Sam A Tsuen. Here, there's a pool where mangroves are abundant, and the hamlet that includes the Sam A Tsuen hostel.

The hostel is clean; rooms are simple - with several small beds, and bunk beds. There's good food, chilled drinks including beer - which you can enjoy on the terrace overlooking the pool.

sam a tsuen sunrise

From the rooftop, you can just see the waters of Double Haven, and islands. It's a marvellous place for watching the sunrise, before enjoying a morning or day in this fabulous part of Hong Kong (the return hike along the same route is perhaps the most pleasant way to return home; but you could also walk through Lai Chi Wo, then cross hills towards Luk Keng).

Getting there

Minibus 20C, which normally runs from Tai Po Market to Tai Mei Tuk, sometimes includes a special service that includes Wu Kau Tang. There's some info here. If you can't catch this, it is possible to head to Tai Mei Tuk by bus or minibus, then take a taxi to Wu Kau Tang. Or  on Sundays and public holidays, bus 275R from Tai Po Market to Bride's Pool, near Wu Kau Tang; info via this KMB page. Otherwise, a taxi to from Tai Po Market MTR station to Wu Kau Tang.

From Wu Kau Tang: there's a small pavilion type shelter by the road, where you might wait for a minibus, or hope a taxi comes, or try calling a taxi (there's a number posted close by).

To book: tel. 9789 8295.

Martin Williams

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