Over and Around Mt Violet
Key information: Over and Around Mt Violet
- Fine walk across this sharp hill on the south of Hong Kong Island.
- Magnificent views, across placid reservoirs nestled amid rocky, verdant hills, and toward towers clustered around the bays, distant islands shimmering in the haze.
- Beautiful shrub azaleas and sub-tropical woodlands; surprising birdsong and wildlife, just across the ridge from one of the world's most densely populated cities.
- Pity about the concreted paths.
- Walkopedia rating79
- Natural interest15
- Human interest6
- Negative points3
- Total rating79
- Note: Negs: popularity; concreting; pollution.
- Length: 2.5 hours
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Over Mt. Violet
One of our favourite Hong Kong walks, a demanding yomp on the Wilson Trail over this sharp hill on the south of Hong Kong Island, followed by a steady meander beside storm drains back around the contours of the hill.
Starting at the hideous, corruption-built Parkview, the trail climbs steeply up a long ridge through shrub azaleas, which sport beautiful flowers over a long season. This stage is a bit of a slog on at times concreted paths, but the top of Mt. Violet is worth it: wonderful views far down to the upper Tai Tam Reservoir, nestled between steep hillsides of gorgeous mixed foliage, round to the towers lined around Repulse Bay, the outlying islands faintly visible through the haze. And that most romantic of waters, the South China Sea.
The hike down is fabulous, winding along a ridge which falls sheer to Repulse Bay. You will be surprised by the birdsong and wildlife a wide-spanned kite will circle above you; a large snake slithered across into the scrub when we were last there.
From a junction near some WW2 blockhouses, one way back meanders along a fault in steep cliffs above the densely populated Repulse Bay, then contours beside a storm drain around the rugged, densely forested hillside. The other follows another water channel high above the peaceful reservoir. This is beautiful, steep, empty hillside and an elevating walk, slightly let down by finishing with a steep, crowded climb back to Parkview. See below.
Any enterprising visitor can walk Violet Hill (just 15 minutes from central Hong Kong), which is a testament to the truth behind the cliché: nowhere else in the world can such superb walking exist so close to such dense population. Pity about the concreting on the paths (although we acknowledge the need in places): even when you see no buildings, you sense you are in suburbia.
Around Mt. Violet
One of Hong Kongs most exciting and delightful walks is the 2 hr+ circuit of Mt. Violet, weaving beside fine and some of Hong Kongs oldest storm drains.
Upper Tai Tam Reservoir was Hong Kongs first major attempt at addressing the difficult water supply problems of this burgeoning colony, with a large dam of finely fitted granite blocks and a tunnel to carry the water through the mountains to the great harbour to the north. Storm drains catchment channels that feed the reservoirs snake around Hong Kongs mountains, often providing easy walking through impassable hillsides, commanding glorious views. The west catchment from the Tai Tam is a fine example.
Start at the County Park entrance at the depressing Parkview development. A heavily walked road drops steeply to the reservoir, surrounded by the usually vibrantly green hills of Hong Kongs central spire.
Here is where the fireworks begin: turn right on a stone aqueduct across an arm of the reservoir look out for the endearing terrapins floating in the warm backwaters and you are on the concrete path along the storm drains rim. Apart from the recent, depressing rails to stop walkers falling into the watercourse, this is marvellous walking through the azalea-dominated mixed-shrub forest of Mt. Violets flank. Lovely views open up to the left of a lower reservoir and a corner of Tai Tam Bay between verdant hillsides. Sit on the rocks by a tiny, gurgling stream perhaps half an hour in (a favourite picnic spot when we lived in Hong Kong), a couple of cliffs-waterfalls in the wet season, and a WW2 blockhouse (now hard to see) on the ridge top overlooking Repulse Bay (now nearly invisible through the growing shrubs), a remnant of a tragic episode.
By the time you meet the path coming down off Mt. Violet (see above), at the pass to the South Side, the watercourse has petered out and you are on a well-walked trail that becomes dramatic as it continues along a fault in the cliffs behind Repulse Bay, high above that truly Hong Kong mixture of beautiful, island-scattered bay and 30+ storey apartment blocks.
Soon after turning back towards the north, you join another nascent storm drain and return to the little reservoirs below Parkview through thick, mixed forest with occasional glimpses of sea, mountains and, yes, the odd tower block. Very Hong Kong.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Hong Kong - Lonely Planet City Guide
A History of Hong Kong – Frank Welsh
Hong Kong – Jan Morris
Prisoner of the Turnip-Heads – George Wright-Nooth with Mark Adkin
An Insular Possession – Timothy Mo
Myself a Mandarin – Austin Gates
Good maps are easily bought in Hong Kong.
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
October to March. Azaleas in spring.
Excellent (warm, sunny) October-January. Cool and cloudy Feb-March. Increasingly humid and hot April-May. Very hot and humid June – September. Can be wet from January onward.
Taxi or bus to/from the start at Parkview (15 minutes from Central)
As described above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Heat, humidity and strong sun at some times of year. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Guided or independent?
You can do this walk independently.
It is in theory possible to find guides, and there are companies that organize walks in Hong Kong, especially themed walks – e.g. WW2 history, which can be fascinating.
Community help requested: please let us know of any guides who do this walk.
Expedition organisers include:
Ramblers Holidays – do a Hong Kong focused walking holiday.
Explore! - reputable and experienced organisers.] (potential affiliate)
Traverseline – we have used these (elsewhere) and been very happy]
High Places – we have used these (elsewhere) and been very happy]
Have a look at Infohub to see if they have any good deals for this expedition.
Check TripAdvisor for some reviews of this walk and walk organisers which may prove helpful.
PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise
A huge range, from luxury hotels to hostels. Serviced apartments are also to be found.
Luxury – some wonderful (if sometimes unintentionally hilarious) hotels, including:
Conrad Hong Kong (Central)
Grand Hyatt (Wanchai)
Cheaper – a profusion of good (but seldom particularly cheap) accommodation includes:
Bishop Lei International House (mid-levels)
Newton (in North Point)
YMCA/YWCA (Kowloon and Central)
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with information on this walk. Help us expand our list.
- Hong Kong Tourism Board – www.hkta.org - for accommodation, eating, etc.
Other things to do in the area
Some lesser, but delightful, walks can be found in Derek Kemp’s Twelve Hong Kong Walks (possibly now out of print). See also Magic Walks by Kaarlo Schepel, which has charm (if a basic layout) and some great walks.
Hong Kong is a fascinating place with a huge amount to do. The Peak for its views; a ferry to an outer island or Macau. The Peak Tram is horribly crowded (queues can be endless) but hugely romantic. The Star Ferry still has atmosphere, but its new location in the wastelands of the Central Reclamation, a classic piece of Hong Kong planning stupidity, has reduced the magic.
Food – Hong Kong is one of the world’s great centres. Chinese food (obviously), but all Asian food is fantastic here.
Shopping, if you must
Endless. Getting clothes made well but reasonably cheaply (Tsim Sha Tsui backstreets). A profusion of fun tourist tat. Fascinating antiques (beware, majority are fakes) around Hollywood Road and Cat Street.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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