Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Garden Hill, Shek Kip Mei

Garden Hill is a small hill (about 90 meters high) in Shek Kip Mei that overlooks the area once occupied by the famous Shek Kip Mei resettlement estate. The hill is unnamed on all of my local maps - simply identified by the fact that its summit holds the local freshwater service reservoir - but I believe the Chinese name (嘉頓山 - gar dun saan) is the local nickname due to its proximity to the famous local Garden Bakery. Regardless of the name, it's one of the highest vantage points in this part of Kowloon and is therefore a very popular spot for local photographers. The summit was also once home to a light that either (unsure which one) lit the way to the airport or warned low flying aircraft of its whereabouts. Since the airport closed in 1998 the hill's summit, as well as one of the shaved tiers on its western slope, have been turned into rest gardens for those fit enough to climb the rather steep steps that lead to the top.

If you are ever in the vicinity there are several things that are worth taking a look at including the recently revamped Mei Ho House (the only surviving H-block of the former resettlement estate) which has been turned into a YHA Hostel. It also contains a rather excellent museum on the ground floor as well as a fairly decent cafe. Another building worth a look is the nearby former North Kowloon Magistracy now used by the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and of course the aforementioned Garden Bakery building that has been here since time immemorial.

Mei Ho House

You can get up the hill by two paths. The first can be reached by going around the outside of Mei Ho House (it's signposted) and zig-zags up to the top right next to the hostel. The second way is to walk up past the SCAD building and take the steps there.

Option 1: Steps by Mei Ho House

Former North Kowloon Magistracy on Tai Po Road

I recommend going up past SCAD because the steps, though seemingly steeper, are shaded much of the way by tree growth plus you can stop halfway at the so-called mid-level rest garden and take a breather. It' not a massive hill but the steps are steep and any movement in HK weather - even during the "cooler" winter months - can be fairly stifling.

Option 2: Steps by SCAD
Mid-level rest garden

Although there's not much to see on the hill itself (unless you like walking around the deserted but still fully functional covered reservoir), it does afford some great views of the local area.

View south towards Sham Shui Po
Trig point at 90.6 metres
One of the tiers along the slope that provides some rather pleasant breezy shade.

The small shelter and seating seen below is at the top of the hill and occupies the spot that was once taken up by the airport light, hence why there was a pre-built concrete platform here.

Summit with Beacon Hill in the background

From here you can wander around the top and get some fairly decent views. Of course, this being Hong Kong then you have to time it for a day when the sky isn't filled with dirty mucky pollution (hard to do outside of the summer). Local photographers seem top get around that by heading up at night when the air quality improves slightly and the buildings lights start to come on.

Looking east with Lion Rock on the far left

The temple-like building is actually St Francis of Assisi Anglo Primary School

Mei Ho House Youth Hostel

View south along Yen Chow Street

1 comment:

  1. This looks intriguing. Thanks for letting us know about it, Phil! :)