Monday, 1 December 2014

Ki Lun Shan, North District

One of the benefits of spending ages trawling around maps and satellite imagery for traces of long lost locations and the like is the fact that sometimes you come across something intriguing that you may not have encountered before. And so it was with my mammoth search for Bruce Lee's Last Filming Location - spending hours looking at hills, mountains and ridgelines - I came across a photo of a rather strange looking structure on the slopes of a hill, just west of Sheung Shui/Fanling New Town, called Ki Lun Shan.

The photo I refer to is this one below and comes courtesy of a user on Google's Panoramio called APYL. So many thanks to them for bringing my attention to this little part of the New Territories.


What was more intriguing about the photo though was the caption that came with it which said "Remains of the war time". Funnily enough, I knew someone who was quite into this stuff so thought I would contact him and try to rope him in to having a look-see. Enter David Bellis, self-professed "amateur" historian and caretaker/owner and main driving force behind the exceptionally exceptional Gwulo.com.

Looking south towards Tai Lo Tin

So, off we headed on a cool and misty September morning to Fanling station followed by a 15 minute cab ride to a suitable dropping off point at the southern slopes of the hill. Actually, it took a couple of attempts to get a cabby who knew where we wanted to go and, thankfully, David’s Cantonese is vastly better than mine and could explain more eloquently where this pair of mad crazy gweilos wanted to go (this was over five years ago and I'm sorry to say that my Canto still sucks). The drop off point was at the bottom of a service road which led up to the villages freshwater supply tank.


It's hard to see on GoogleEarth, but thankfully it is marked on maps and it sits almost directly in the middle of the gap between Ki Lun Shan (the British referred to it as Haddon Hill) and its neighbour to the south, Tai Lo Tin (大羅天). The area is better known as Ki Lun Shan Au or "Saddle Gap".


Anyway, you just head up to the water tank and then hang a right and try to follow whatever trail there is up the southern slope of the hill. After much bushwhacking by David and sneezing on my part (if you want more information you can see David's own post over at Gwulo.com that details much of what we saw) not only did we reach the concrete structure, but we also discovered a whole bunch of other military-like structures including dugouts, trenches, rusted barbed wire and even small concreted bunkers. The structure above turned out to not be a pillbox, as we originally assumed it might be, but a concrete shack with small windows, metal doors and a whole heap of mess on the inside.

Lok Ma Chau Border Control Point

At the time, and neither of us being particularly au fait with military structures, we had no idea what it may have been intended for but did notice that the chimney hole was a metal pipe that went up and away (in right angles) from the main shack in a manner that implied nobody wanted hand grenades dropped down it. The only really good suggestion we had was that it may have been an ammunition store of some sort.

Further exploration around both sides of the main ridgeline revealed a whole load of horseshoe-shaped bunker-type holes, some of them fairly rough, others with quite clean angles in them, and one even with concrete lining. It seems as though the hillside was prepared for some sort of heavy military activity, but it really wasn’t clear who was responsible for them until a nice chappy called "Yorkie" left a comment on David's website that told us they were built by he and his buddies of the 1st Bttn Northumberland Fusiliers in the Autumn of 1951 (after returning from the Korean War) as a direct response to the threat of Communist China over the border. So now we know!

Looking towards Shenzhen from near the summit

On an aside, the climb up Ki Lun Shan is fairly easy, its not particularly steep by HK standards and it was also deserted when we were there. No one was around. The view at the tops affords a fantastic vista over the border at Lok Ma Chau into Shenzhen, as well as far west and east within HK territory. Just a shame that the day wasn’t a bit clearer for us. We ended our day's explorations by walking down the hillside towards the service reservoir and the road into Kwu Tung. It comes out right next to the Kwu Tung Market and so lots of transport options back to Fanling or Sheung Shui.

6 comments:

  1. Very interesting. I wish gwulo had existed when I lived in HK!

    There was a pillbox right next to one of my childhood homes (Rise Park Villas on Razor Hill Rd.) It was buried in undergrowth, but every now and then a hill fire would uncover it.

    Looking at gwulo (it had never occurred to me to check until now), I see it dates back to probably 1937, so it was around 50 years old when I last saw it. At that point it consisted of some vertical walls, but no roofs or enclosed spaces. Wonder what's left of it almost another 30 years later?

    This is the one, incidentally:

    http://gwulo.com/node/14328

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    1. The great thing is there is so much of this stuff still around. Often unidentifiable until an expert can come along and fill in the details. We also did a trip up Ho Hok Shan in Yuen Long. It's a much smaller hill but covered in shallow trenches with rusted barbed wire.

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  2. After some clicks I was diverted to this post and see some interesting stuff here. I am the original poster of the above photo in Panoramio and I'm glad the photo is useful (or intriguing) to somebody out there.

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    1. Hi APYL
      Thanks for stopping by. I've found many other photographs of yours that are equally interesting, so many thanks for making them available.
      Cheers, Phil

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  3. Replies
    1. your best bet is to catch a taxi from Fanling station.

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