Gunung Angsi

A relatively short (but steep) hike through the jungle to the third highest peak in Negeri Sembilan state, about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur.

Another trip to catch-up with the team in Malaysia, means the opportunity for another mountain hike… A work colleague suggested Gunung Angsi, which could be done in a morning and is not too far from KL. I’ve booked my trusty local guide, Eddie Yap, who took me to Bukit Kutu on my last Malaysia trip as and as well as Medang Falls with my local marketing team before that.

It’s about an hour from my hotel in KL to Seremban, about 60km to the south, and then another 20min drive to the start of one of the trails to the peak. We are taking the Bukit Putus route up, which is the shorter and more direct route, starting at an altitude of 285m. The trail from the large parking area is impossible to miss – it’s not the most picturesque starting point, with what seems to be a very new trail cut into the side of the hill. (Older blog posts show a more solid set of concrete steps marking the start of the walk, rather than the makeshift steps shown below.)

The trail immediately climbs steeply up the hill (or mountain!), with ropes helping on some of the more vertical sections. The track is well marked, with both regular small arrows as well as a series of numbers in preparation for an event in a couple of days time.

It’s a fairly relentless, steady climb through typical Malaysian jungle – lots of exposed roots – until a fairly flat section is reached after about 2km. At the end of this section is a rest area, where we chat briefly to the only other hikers we’ve seen on the trail. This area seems to have been cleaned up, as I’ve seen photos where there are a heap of multi-coloured chairs, cooking utensils and other junk left here.

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From here it’s uphill again, with the first views over the area from “Waterfall View”. Being a fairly overcast, the view wasn’t great – but better than nothing!

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Another half an hour or so and the summit is reached: it’s taken exactly 1:30min to climb the 540m up to the 824m/825m summit. (The height is described as both 824m and 825m.) I’m not sure why at 825m Angsi is a mountain (gunung), while Kutu at 1,053m is a hill (bukit)?

There’s a covered shelter on the large, open summit area and very little rubbish lying around.  Despite the poor weather, there are some views over the surrounding wooded hills towards the east, and almost below us to the west are some glimpses  through the trees of the outskirts of Seremban.

After a brief stop on the summit, where the elevation and slight breeze is a relief from the humidity of the jungle, we continue our journey down the other side of the summit. After passing by an old, abandoned trig marker we enjoy the last views over from the mountain before we re-enter the jungle.

The descent we are taking is the longer Ulu Bendul trail. It’s narrower and seems less trafficked than the Bukit Putus route we took up (although other trip reports suggest this longer route is more popular) – and descends even more steeply. In a number of places there are sections of rope in place to help descend the slippery track.

After about 20min, there’s a fun section of the track that feels like a combination of obstacle course, abseil and bouldering! We enter a narrow section of track, following a deep channel caused by water carving a channel through the jungle landcsape.

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Then we follow the top of the large “sand boulders”.

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Finally, a steep section that involves carefully reversing down an 8m wall of red rock to the bottom of the boulder section! There’s a couple of routes down (or up), both with rope to assist the descent (or ascent).

After this section, the trail continues fairly steeply down the mountain for another 20min (1.5km).

About 3km from the summit, we cross a small stream, which marks the end of the steep descent! From here the trail is fairly flat, although not being used to the Malaysian climate I find the last section the toughest due to the humidity and lack of breeze in the valley.

Soon after the crossing this small stream we can hear the sound of rushing water, as we meet the river (Sungai Batang Terachi) that we’ll now follow back to the Ulu Bendul finish point. Soon after the track joins the river, a short side-track leads to a small set of cascades.

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After only another five minutes we cross the river for the first time. Despite having rained the last few days, the river level is low enough that we can cross without getting wet feet. Next to the river crossing is a clear pool with a waterfall – it would be a perfect lunch or swimming spot if we had time!

Just after the crossing is Kem Tangga Batu, a large camping area with a covered hut and a set of concrete steps (as well as a dilapidated and overgrown building that looks like it might have been a toilet in a previous life).

There’s remarkably no rubbish and it looks like a great place to camp by the river… it feels like we must be close to the end of the track! A few minutes on and there’s another steep but short side-track to a set of cascades. A nice photo-stop, but not as nice as the previous spot for a break.

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The track descends again as it follows the river, with a couple of steeper sections.

Another half an hour, and we each a small shelter and some plastic pipes that follow the river. It’s now been two hours since we left the summit: it’s taken longer than we expected, although there have been a few photos stops (tip: bring a small tripod to get some great cascade/waterfall shots)!

The narrow track seems to go on forever, as it follows the river. The track is narrow and eroded in sections – I’m not sure how they managed to construct the huts and shelters we saw previously! There are some calm sections of river and I have a quick swim to cool off.

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Finally, after passing a small dam, there’s a last river crossing. This time it’s impossible to avoid wet feet, and the crossing might be tricky if the river was higher (but if you’re starting from Ulu Bendul and you’re able to cross, the other river crossings will be fine).

A few minutes later and we’re at the Ulu Bendol Recreational Forest. There’s a ranger station here, and a water slide park. We only see a couple of people here, but it looks like it might be busy on a weekend.

After crossing the picnic ground, there’s a restaurant by the highway. We buy some cold drinks, and while I need to get back to the office the food looks very tempting! It’s taken just under three hours to get down, which is longer than we’d thought. Our car is 3km up the highway at the other trackhead, so one of our group of three hitches a lift to avoid a hot and boring walk up the road – it would be ideal to have to two cars if going up one route and back on the other! Total distance about 12km based on my GPS, although other trip reports suggest it’s 10km.

It’s been a great walk, combining some views from the peak with cascades and river crossings. I’d definitely recommend the Ulu Bendul route, or going up one way and back the other for variety.

Location Starts/ends at either Bukit Putus trackhead (2.7275351,102.0553951) or Ulu Bendul trackhead (2.727418N ,102.0758E) near Seremban, about an hour south of Kuala Lumpur.
Distance 12km open loop (4.6km via Bukit Putus / 7.4km via Ulu Bendul)
Grade Moderate (very steep/slippery in sections with some ropes)
Season/s All year, but best to avoid hiking after/during heavy rain
Map N/A
GPS route Google Maps GPS trail. View route and export to KML format.
Resources Track notes – Malaysia Traveller / The Star Online

Map-GunungAngsi

Mt Killiecrankie circuit (Flinders Is)

A partly off-track circuit on Flinders Island to the Mt Killiecrankie summit and back along the rugged coast from The Dock.

Described as “one of the most majestic islands in the Furneaux Group” and “arguably the most majestic mountain and bay combination in Bass Strait”, Mt Killiecrankie (316m) is the highest peak at the northern end of Flinders Island. While significantly less high than Mt Strzelecki, it’s a tougher walk and offers equally impressive views from the top.

There’s a few different approaches to the summit, all of them at least partly off-track… I’m taking what seems to be the “easiest” route to the top. The intended route follows Killiecrankie beach around to the northern end, where there is a 4WD track for part of the ascent.

After walking along the beach for about 2.6km (slightly easier and quicker at low tide), I pick up a signposted 4WD track that starts just above the beach (Quion Road). It’s a private road; my “Walks of Flinders Island” book suggests this as one of the summit approaches, and recommends seeking approval from the manager of the Quion cattle farm (access via this route may change if the development of a $5 million premium tourist resort goes ahead). Being on my own and not sure how to contact the manager, I set-off up the track which climbs steadily up the hill. After about 1.2km, I reach a gate, where I turn left and follow the fence line for a few hundred metres. There’s now a short section of off-tracking walking through fairly thick forest, before I reach another 4WD track.

The next section of (disused) 4WD track continues heading up towards the summit, and offers a bit of shade on a clear and fairly warm April day.  Not long after reaching this upper 4WD trail (at Palana 735917) , there’s the first views over the coast for the first time from a rock platform, and a memorial plaque to Peter Grant Hay and his wife Margaret Maisie. Hay was an Australian brewer, landowner, pastoralist and thoroughbred racehorse breeder who founded the Richmond N.S. Brewing Co. Ltd (now Carlton & United Breweries) and owned land on Flinders Island. Interestingly, there’s no mention of the plaque in my hiking guide or on-line.

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Another 200m and there’s a fork in the track; after consulting the map, I take the left-hand option. The rough track continues ascending directly towards the peak, which soon becomes visible directly ahead.

While the summit is clearly visible in the distance, there’s no obvious track to the summit from the 4WD track which continues around the base of the mountain. I find a very narrow and indistinct foot track through fairly thick scrub (Palana 737925 or 39°48’51.4″S 147°51’40.4″E) which seems the best option. This trail winds through the scrub, before emerging at a large, exposed rock platform.  In front of me are views of the coast, and behind me looms the large rock outcrop of the summit,

The notes in my guide book, while fairly accurate for the initial part of the walk, seem to bear little resemblance to the tracks I’ve found as I near the summit. I’m at the southern end of Mt Killiecrankie, which is the steeper ascent, and I can’t find any track that allows an easier approach from the northern end. While parts of the ascent appear a little daunting (in terms of height and exposure), the alternate requires navigating through some pretty thick scrub to the northern end of the granite outcrop. I manage to find a route up the last 50m of rock face, finally reaching the Killiecrankie summit after 6.2km and just over two hours walking.

The views are fantastic in all directions, with an almost cloudless sky. To the south is Killiecrankie Bay, with farmland adjacent and further inland, the Wingaroo Nature Reserve.

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To the north is Blyth Point and Palana, and in the far distance the Inner Sister and Outer Sister islands.

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After a well-earned break on the top, it’s time to figure out how to get back… I’m reluctant to descend the same way as I came up, being very steep and exposed. Heading down the “back” of Mt Killiecrankie (the northern approach) is much easier. I follow a long series of rock slabs; just before the last boulder is a short drop on the left into a gully. From here my intent was to navigate back to the southern end of the summit outcrop, and re-trace my steps…

…but, with thick scrub all the way up the base of the rock, I follow a faint trail that leads further north. I figure it’s heading downhill, it must go somewhere and it’s a hell of a lot easier than “bush bashing” through dense scrub! The trail is marked by cairns, taking me under large boulders, across exposed rock platforms and traversing some interesting granite formations!

After about half an hour, there’s a sign pointing to “The White Eyed Man” (map reference Palana 738934). It’s a little surreal, being the only sign I’ve encountered on the entire walk, so I make the 80m detour. I’m not quite sure to expect! The White Eyed Man is an imposing rock formation, which does look a little like a pointy-nosed person looking over the coast. There’s no mention of this formation in my guide, or checking later, anywhere on-line.

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From here the track is fairly easy to follow through medium-thick scrub, as it gets closer to The Dock Road which I can see below. I’d avoided this route up as the guide book described it as being un-tracked and through thick scrub, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it the easiest route down as it meant I could return to Killiecrankie via a circuitous route!

It takes less than an hour to reach The Dock Road, emerging from the scrub next to a “4WD only” sign (although locals assure me the road is 2WD suitable and it is in good condition). From the road, there is almost no sign of the track – it’s the little gap in the bushes in the picture below right.

From here, it’s a quick 15min down the unsealed road to The Dock, which consists of a number of small sandy beaches set in a kilometre of rocky coastline. It’s a pleasant spot and I have a quick swim before continuing on my way along the coast.

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The well-marked track follows the rocky coast fairly closely, with the Mt Killiecrankie mountain range not very far inland.

I’m making fairly good progress until I reach the climbers camping area, which is near the coast (Palana 725936). There’s a path that leads up to the base of the cliffs, where it abruptly stops – the guide book suggests continuing off-track but with the time getting late and the shrub fairly thick, I eventually re-trace my steps to the climbers camping area. Here I quickly find the main track that follows the coast and resume my journey back to Killiecrankie. The going is a bit slower from here, even after I’m back on the correct trail, with the setting sun almost directly ahead and the terrain consisting of rock formations and patches of soft sand.

It’s a relief to reach the granite slabs on the headland below Old Man’s Head, where the walking is a bit easier.

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Soon after, with Old Man’s Head jutting into the sky behind me, I meet the only other hikers I’ve seen all day, heading toward The Dock.

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It’s a bit slower again for the next section to Stacky’s Bight, with the track heading inland and skirting around some steep sections of shoreline. Stacky’s Bight is a sheltered cove featuring a couple of sea arches, and would make a worthwhile destination for a shorter day-trip.

It’s now almost 5pm, and great light for photography as I navigate the last sections of rocky coastline before reaching Killiecrankie Bay, the rocks almost glowing in the afternoon sun.

I’m back at the (far) end of Killiecrankie Bay with the sun just over the horizon.

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There’s just 2km (or so) of easy beach walking before I’m back at the car; in the distance is Mt Killiecrankie. It’s been a tough walk but my favourite Flinders Island walk so far, combining a small mountain peak with some varied coastal walking.

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Location Start at Killiecrankie beach car park.
Distance 18km circuit
Grade Hard. 370m total scent
Season/s All year round.
Map TasMap Flinders 1:100K or Palana 1:25K
GPS Route Routie GPS trail. View route and export to KML format.
Resources “Walks of Flinders Island” book by Ken Martin (walks 6, 12, 13 & 18).
Book available in Whitemark or via Amazon

Map-KilliecrankieCircuit

Mt Strzelecki (Flinders Island)

A steep walk to the highest peak on Flinders Island (756m), which is frequently shrouded by cloud.

Mt Strzelecki is another of the three Tasmanian “60 Great Short Walks” that’s located on Flinders Island – and it’s the highest point on the island – so it’s a “must do” hike on our stay. I’m joined by Luke and our “local” (Launceston) friend Linda, who’s staying with us for a few days.

We head out from our house at the opposite end of the island (near West End Beach) around 9am, with the granite peaks of the Strzelecki ranges appearing closer as we turn onto Trousers Point Road almost an hour later.

(The Devonian-age granite peaks are part of a larger series of granite bodies that extend from north-eastern Tasmania to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, and were formed approximately 370 million years ago. Just in case you have an interest in geology!)

The start of the walk is very clearly marked, with the Strzelecki peaks directly ahead of us, as we set off around 10am. It’s a beautiful, clear day, so I’m looking forward to the view from the summit.

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The track crosses a small clearing to a walker registration “booth” where’s there a battered log-book, before it enters the low (but dense) forest.

The first “stage” of the track is not steep, but climbs relentlessly up through forest consisting mostly of casuarina trees.

After about a kilometre (and 180m of altitude gain), there’s a glimpse of our destination in the distance, and the first views from the track of Whitemark Beach to the north.

About half an hour further, and the landscape has completely changed to more open eucalypt forest with a few patches of ferns. In this second “stage” (starting at about the 1.8km mark and and 320m altitude), you can see why the rainfall on Flinders Island is highest around the Strzelecki Peaks.

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The track starts to get steeper, but rewards our progress with improving views; Mt Chappell Island can be seen off the coast, beyond Trousers Point.

This second stage of our walk is about a kilometre in length and we’ve gained another 300m altitude, as we reach the foot of the granite peak that towers above us. As we follow the base of the Strzelecki Peaks, the “third stage” of our journey is damp and shaded. We’re mostly in Sassafras-musk rainforest, occasionally emerging onto granite outcrops.

While we started our walk in full sun, there’s now swirling mist around us and views to the north are of… cloud. At the 3km mark (700m altitude) there’s a large rock platform and with limited visibility, a few groups end their hike here.

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We continue – we’re now only 60m from the summit – although it’s clear (no pun intended) that with the clouds sweeping over the peak we won’t be “rewarded with views of mainland Tasmania” as my guidebook promised!

After the last few hundred metres through thick scrub and then along a broad ridge of granite, we’re on the rocky peak!

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The thickest cloud is to the north, and doesn’t look like abating anytime soon… although once we’re back at the the bottom I can’t see any clouds around the peak. I don’t know if we’re just unlucky with timing: the general advice is to go early as the cloud builds over the day. [I go back a few days later, starting at 4am both to avoid the cloud and catch sunrise from the peak – but the cloud is even thicker, to the point it’s raining when I get to the last section – and when I’m back at the bottom it looks clear at the top!]

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You could argue that the mist adds to the atmosphere. Maybe. And there are still some nice views, with the Strzelecki Peaks to the south and Fotherington Beach below, with Big Green Island in the distance and East Kangaroo Island barely visible behind it. But definitely can’t see mainland Tasmania in the distance!

We hang around on the summit for about half an hour, before deciding that it’s highly unlikely that the clouds will dissipate anytime soon and we head back down. It’s taken us about 2.5 hours up, with frequent rest breaks, and 1.5 hours to go back down.

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Location From Whitemark, travel south (towards Lady Barron) on B85 and turn into C806 (well sign-posted) to Trousers Point. The track to the peaks is marked on the left-hand side of the road.
Distance 6.6km return
Grade Moderate. 755m ascent
Season/s All year round.
Map TasMap Flinders 1:100K or Loccota 1:25K
GPS Route Routie GPS trail. View route and export to KML format.
Resources “Walks of Flinders Island” book by Ken Martin (p.10). Available in Whitemark or via Amazon
Tas Parks “60 Great Short Walks

 

Mt Dromedary (Gulaga)

A solid half-day walk to the top of an extinct volcano and Aboriginal cultural site.

It’s almost a year since my last trip to the south coast. Last time I hiked with the kids and Grandpa to the top of “Little Dromedary“; this time we tackle Mt Dromedary, or Mt Guluga, a 797m extinct volcano and significant Aboriginal site near the coast at Narooma.

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The walk starts next to Pam’s Store in Tilba Tilba – the start is well-marked and you can purchase water or snacks from the store. (As I was hiking with my 8-year old son, we made a short detour to the “Tilba Sweet Spot” in Central Tilba for some essential chocolate supplies.) We hit the trail at 10:30am: the first 1.5km or so is along an unsealed road though open farmland. Little Dromedary can be seen clearly from here, looking back along the trail. There’s a gradual ascent, from the start of the walk at 3om above sea level to 150m where you enter Gulaga National Park.

After entering park, the track gets a bit steeper and rougher – but remains a 4WD track that is mostly in shade, with pockets of rain forest. After about 3.5km there’s a good view through the trees towards Wallaga Lake and the coast (photo below): this is the best view you’ll get on the entire walk. Many birds can be seen and heard  – binoculars and/or a telephoto lens would be useful (I had to leave behind my long lens to make space for my son’s chocolate supply…)

After a couple of hours walking we reach the saddle at the 5km mark; there’s a table here, some signage and a toilet. There’s also a short and unmarked path that leads to some spectacular rock formations that have been recognised by Geoscience Australia as one of seven significant rock formations in Australia. This site is also a place of cultural origin for the Yuin people, with the mountain regarded as a symbolic mother-figure providing the basis for the Aboriginal people’s spiritual identity [source: Wikipedia]. All visitors are welcome to climb Mount Gulaga but the Aboriginal elders ask that you stay on the track as some places should not be visited without a Yuin custodian. I’m not sure, having done some research, if this area is deliberately not sign-posted to discourage people visiting?

From the saddle, there should be two options to reach the summit: the Rainforest track, which is longer and follows a ridge up to the summit, and the very steep Summit track. Encouraged by the possibility of chains and danger, my 8-year-old son chooses the Summit track. We find what appears to be the (unmarked) Summit track leading directly up the side of the mountain about 5oom past the saddle. However, the track has no signage or markings and we quickly give up – it looks like the use of this track is being discouraged. We stick to the Rainforest Track, which descends a little (not happy about this!) before the final steep and slightly slippery ascent through rain forest to the summit at 797m.

We’ve taken 3.5 hours, 17 breaks and 47 M&Ms to reach the summit… There’s almost no view from the summit, so we enjoy a short break before a much quicker 1.5 hour descent. All up, we’ve taken just over the recommended five hours.

Location Starts in Central Tilba (about 5 hours south of Sydney)
Distance 14.5km return journey. 750m climb.
Grade Easy.
Season/s All year round
Map Central Tilba 1:25,000 (89253N)
GPS Route Routie GPS trail. View route and export to KML format.
Resources  Nil

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Dragon’s Back

An easy walk on Hong Kong’s main island, offering great views for relatively low effort and very easy access.

‘Dragon’s Back’ refers to a hiking trail along the ridge between Shek O Peak and Wan Cham Shan, with the highest point at 284 metres. It forms part of the 5okm-long Hong Kong trail (Section 8) and has been named “best urban hike in Asia” by TIME magazine in 2004. It’s very quick and easy to get to the trailhead. It was the ideal choice for a half-day hike with a work colleague, before our flights back to Australia in the evening.

After leaving our bags at Hong Kong station, we take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan station and then Bus 9 from the bus terminus to the start of the track on Shek O Road. Any concerns about which bus stop to alight from are quickly allayed by the fact the entire (fairly full) double-decker bus consists of Dragon’s Back hikers. This is not a hike to do if you’re seeking solitude.

We set off up the path from the windy and scenic road to Shek O around 11am; the trail rises steadily from the bus-stop and is well-marked. It’s a warm day (I suppose every day in HK is either a warm day or a hot day!), and the shade at the start of the walk is appreciated.

It doesn’t take long for the trail to reach the undulating ridge. We’re now in full sun, sweating profusely and glad we’ve brought a decent amount of water with us. But no umbrellas, which some hikers are carrying! The views start to open up as the trail follows the ridge.

From Shek O peak (284m) which is about a kilometre from the start, the views are magnificent: Shek O village and beach is below us, and in the distance to the east you can see Clear Water Bay Peninsula and islands in the eastern sea (below).

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To the west (below) is Stanley Peninsula across the other side of Tai Tam Bay, with Lamma Island in the distance.

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The trail now follows the spinal ridge of the Dragon’s Back for about three kilometres, through thick vegetation that’s rarely high enough to provide any shade from the midday sun. There’s a few more vantage points, including Wan Cham Shan peak (265m).

Towards the end of the ridge we get tantalising views of Tai Long Wan village and Big Wave Bay below us at the end of the trail. Contrasting with the greenery of the hills are the dense urban developments on Kowloon in the distance.

Eventually the trail descends from the ridge, and it’s possible to leave the walk after about five kilometres. We continue to Tai Long village, exchanging what was a dirt trail to a paved road (closed to traffic) for the final three or so kilometres. We are in shade again, and it’s easy walking down to the end of Hong Kong Trail Section 8 at Tai Long village. Where we enjoy a well-deserved beer on the beach, discovering the very appropriately-named Dragon’s Back Beer from Hong Kong’s first micro brewery.

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Tai Long Beach and village seen from track on the opposite side to Dragons Back trail

A couple of beers later, we are ready for the final stage of our journey… the walk from  Tai Long village to Shek O. There are options to get a bus or taxi for this last bit but, but that’s not for hard-core hikers like us 🙂 Regretting our decision half an hour later as we trudge along Big Wave Bay Road, we arrive at Shek O village at around 3pm for a late lunch, before catching a very full Bus 9 back to Shau Kei Wan MTR station and onto the airport.

Location MTR to Shau Kei Wan station; then Bus 9 to start of walk (20min).
Distance 10.5km with approx 250m ascent. Allow 3-4 hours.
Grade Easy.
Season/s All year round. Avoid hiking after heavy monsoon rains.
Map  HM20C2 1:20,000 Map 15
Resources Hong Kong Trail official Web site
Photos Google Photos album

Map-DragonsBack.jpg

Fløya (Svolvaer)

A very steep and sometimes slippery trail up to the 590m peak of Fløya – great views from the saddle despite the wet and misty conditions.

My last walk in the Lofoten Islands, before boarding the Hurtigruten (coastal cruise liner) for our trip back south to Bergen.  Fløya is directly to the north of Svolvaer, overshadowing the town and attracting hikers and climbers.

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Floya, the peak at the far right, to the north of Svolvaer

It was one of the rare days during our stay in Norway where the weather was pretty miserable. We’d returned our hire car, so my hike started with a 2km walk from the centre of town; it’s overcast but not raining. I reach the church graveyard at the north end of Svolvaer on Blåtindveien after less than half an hour, and quickly find the start of the walk, which is after the last house on Blåtindveien.

The trails ascends fairly rapidly, with some short and steep sections aided by chains, and a bit of boulder-climbing or hopping required. It’s not difficult, but it is a bit slow-going on a wet and slippery track, with the rain having now started.

The trail is always well-marked as it rises through the birch forest, and within half an hour views of Svolvaer start to emerge. I’ve only seen one person so far, making a haste descent as the rain threatens to intensify.

As the route continues above the tree-line, it gets muddier and steeper. The track often traverses broad sections of mud and goes up slippery and steep slabs of rock that require care. There are clear views of Svolværgeita or “The Svolvær Goat” – Lofoten’s most famous mountain formation. Climbers leap 1.5 metres between the two goat “horns” – you can see these at the top-left corner of the photo below.

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The weather deteriorates as I climb the last – and steepest – section of the trail to the saddle below the summit (540m). To the left is the Fløya summit (590m), another 50m or so higher. (Somewhere below me and to the left is Djevelporten or “Devil’s gate”, a stone block wedged horizontally between two cliffs, that’s a popular photo stop. I meet a trio of hikers just before the summit who also missed this landmark. I’m not sure if there was another track up the mountain I overlooked, but the poor weather precludes further exploration.)

With the rain getting heavier and the wind picking up, it’s too dangerous to find a safe route up the last, very steep, slabs of rock that are now also very slippery to the true Fløya peak.

Instead I turn right (south-west) and follow the very narrow ridge. It’s about a metre in width with a vertical drop of hundreds of metres on both sides.  A little hair-raising but the views in both directions are impressive. Some short breaks in the rain allow me to take a few more photos – on a clear day it would be an awe-inspiring view!

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After waiting on the saddle for about half an hour for the rain to ease, I give up and make my way down the mountain. It’s easier going down than up – but still very slow-going as the track is even more slippery than before.

As I reach the foot of the mountain, the rain stops and the sun starts to come out again…

Location Look for sign on Blåtindveien (road), to the north of Svolvaer (on Austvågøya Island)
Distance 4km round-trip with 55om ascent. Allow 2-3 hours.
Grade Moderate-hard (steep and slippery track)
Season/s June-October
Map Topographical maps on-line at GotTur.no
GPS Route Routie GPS trail. View route and export to KML format.
Resources “Explore Lofoten” (book) by Kristin Folsland Olsen (p.46)
Trip report with track notes on fjordpeaks.com
Photos Google Photos album
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Map showing Floya (Svolvaer) hiking route and elevation gain.

Justadtinden

A 12km round trip to one of Vestvågøy’s highest peaks at 738m, on an easy-to-follow path.

According to my otherwise-helpful and accurate guidebook (Explore Lofoten), this Lofoten Islands hike can be done by bike. By the end of the walk, as I’m hauling myself up vertical slabs of rock with some difficulty, I am thinking either I’m on the wrong trail – or these Norwegians are very hard-core bikers…

The walk starts of as a gravel road from the carpark on Hagskaret, and heads towards a high telecommunications tower a few hundred metres to the north. After the turn-off to the telecoms tower (don’t take this), the path becomes a narrow hiking trail with sections of boardwalk over the muddiest sections. After my last few weeks, I enjoy the feeling of dry feet and not having to plot paths through knee-deep mud! The day is overcast, but the rain is holding off.

It’s a very gradual ascent through rolling hills, with views of Leknes and the surrounding mountains to the south. After about 2km there’s a bifurcation: one trail heads off to the left (west) and goes up to Blåtinden further north. I keep to the right.

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Just over 3km from the start, the trail reaches a rocky plateau surrounded by tarns, and the trail descends briefly through a boggy marsh. My feet remain dry thanks to an elevated boardwalk. This is very civilized walking!

The trail starts ascending again fairly quickly, and the top of Justadtinden can be seen in the distance.

The weather is deteriorating, but through the occasional gaps in the mist there are some nice views back towards Stamsund and the sea.  It’s a shame it’s not a clear day.

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After a bit less than two hours walking there’s a final scramble up some steep rocks, before the top of Justadtinden is reached. There’s really no view – visibility is a few hundred metres – so I don’t linger very long. Two rocky peaks separated by a narrow gap would yield some impressive photos in clear weather. But not today.

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Location Hagskaret, on country road 815, 4km east of Leknes
There is fairly large car park just off the main road.
Distance 12km round-trip with 600m ascent. Allow 3-4 hours.
Grade Easy-Moderate
Season/s June-October
Map Topographical maps on-line at GotTur.no
GPS Route Routie GPS trail. View route and export to KML format.
Resources “Explore Lofoten” (book) by Kristin Folsland Olsen (p.104)
One of the Top 10 Lofoten Islands hike on Switchback travel
Photos Google Photos album
Map-Justadtinden.PNG
Map showing Justadtinden hiking route and elevation gain.

Reinebringen

A very steep and sometimes muddy path to the 448m peak of Reinebringen rewards with awe-inspiring views.  

The walks starts near the southern end of the E10 tunnel near the turn-off to the town of Reine, in the Lofoten Islands. We (me and my 8-year old son) are dropped off here – if you are parking the car-park is at the other end of the tunnel, near the Reine turn-off.

The start of the the walk is marked with a big arrow, and follows the coastline for a few hundred metres, rising gradually through birch forest. It creates a slightly false sense of confidence that this might be an easy walk.

 

It very soon gets very muddy. And very steep. There are a some slippery slabs of rock that require careful negotiation. As you climb, the view toward the south-east, with the E10 following closely following the coast starts giving you a sense of the vistas ahead. (After about 400m a new stone path is being constructed that should make the ascent a much less muddy proposition.) For now the “old” path continues to the right, climbing steeply up the south slope of Reinebringen.

The path gets gradually steeper, if that’s possible, as it nears the saddle just below the peak. We’re partly walking and partly climbing the track as it zig-zags through grass, loose scree and a few muddy sections.

A last scramble and we reach the summit of Reinebringen. It is breathtaking. Reine is directly below, and there are mountain peaks as far as the eye can see.

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To the left, a trail continues further up the ridge, and another 200m ascent is possible (if you don’t suffer from vertigo!).

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Directly below us we can clearly see our cabin in Reine, in the typical “red and white” Norwegian style of fishing huts.

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I could stay here and admire the views for hours, with a handful of other hikers who are on the rocky peak. But after a few minutes my son declares “The view’s OK. Can we go back now” and we start our descent.

It’s just as tricky and slow going down the steep path. I take it slowly and carefully. My son swings on the trees and slides down the mud as if we were at some sort of Norwegian amusement park made of mud.

We walk back into Reine around at 5pm, muddy and tired, but our spirits uplifted by the walk and the view.

Location Park before the tunnel on the E10, near the turn-off to Reine.
If you are being dropped off, you can start after the tunnel (there’s no parking here). You can also walk from Reine.
Distance 2km round-trip (5km from Reine). 400m steep ascent. 2 hours.
Grade Moderate
Season/s July-October
Map Topographical maps on-line at GotTur.no
Resources “Explore Lofoten” (book) by Kristin Folsland Olsen (p.154)
One of the Top 10 Lofoten Islands hikes on Switchback travel
Photos Google Photos album

map-reinebringen

Glomtinden

A short climb to the exposed mountain peak of Glomtinden (419m), with extensive views over the Lofoten Islands.

It takes a couple of passes to find the starting point of the hike, which is a small parking area half-way along Rørvikvatnet lake. I’m dropped off and begin walking up the old gravel road (closed to traffic) that ascends gradually above the E10. There’s a few other people on the trail, which seems to be popular, but it’s not too busy. Views of Vestvågøy across the lake to the west get more impressive as the trail climbs.

After 1.6km, there’s a small foot-track on the right; it’s not sign-posted but is the route up to the Glomtinden summit (the gravel road continues for another 2km or so before it joins the E10, and is an alternate access point for the walk).

The view continues to get better as the narrow track ascends more steeply, soon reaching a small outcrop of rocks. There’s now also views to the east, with Hopsvatnet lake below.

After 2.7km, there’s a small plateau just before the summit, with a rocky platform that juts out to the east. The view from here is spectacular: from Rørvikvatnet lake to Hopsvatnet lake and Svolvaer in the distance, with the mountain of Vågakallen (943m) to the south.

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From here I’ve just got the last, steep 200m to the summit, with some scrambling required at times. There’s a couple of routes you can follow to the top – or just make up your own!

From the top of Glomtinden, the view to the east is really no better than from the saddle below… but you now get 360-degree views, from Rørvikvatnet lake to the west, the lakes of Hopsvatnet and Hopspollen to the north-east,  and Kabelvag and Svolvaer to the east.

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Rørvikvatnet lake and the E10 highway, with Sørfjellet to the left and the mountains on Vestvågøy in the distance

From the top, it’s a quick, 45min descent back to the car park at the bottom. It’s been a very enjoyable introduction to Lofoten Island hiking!

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Location At Rørvikvatnet on west side of E10 tunnel; look for a gravel road (closed to traffic) that has a small parking area. (It’s also possible to start at Hopsvatnet on the eastern side of tunnel.)
Distance 6km return (from Rørvikvatnet start point)
Grade Easy. 34om ascent.
Season/s Summer/Autumn
Map  Topographical maps on-line at GotTur.no
Photos  Google Photo album
Resources “Explore Lofoten” (book) by Kristin Folsland Olsen (p.54)
One of the Top 10 Lofoten Islands hike on Switchback travel

map-glomtinden

Sommarsetvatnet hike

Sommarsetvatnet hike is an (unexpectedly) delightful hike that ascends from the fjord at Sommerset up to an alpine lake that’s surrounded by mountain peaks

I didn’t have particularly high expectations of this hike… I was staying nearby at Garsnes Brygge, and looking for a hike I could do in the morning before our visit to the Polar Park in the afternoon. I’d asked the helpful staff at Garsnes Brygge the previous evening whether there were any local hiking paths, and I got a mixed response, from “a short walk to a lake” to “it’s a steep walk that will take 4-5 hours”. Both descriptions, as it turns out, being somewhat correct…

The Sommarsetvatnet hiking trail starts on Route 152, a one kilometre walk along the road from my accommodation at Garsnes Brygges (or 3km from where Route 152 meets National Highway 84). There’s a sign marking the start of the trail, which is encouraging as I don’t have any map or information on the walk, other than the description(s) I was given the previous evening.

I set off up a rough farm road, which ascends through the forest for about a kilometre, before it becomes a narrow foot trail. After about three kilometres, I reach a small ridge from where there are views back towards the fjord (Sagfjorden) where the walk started. The path ascends a bit more steeply, with the forest becoming more open.

Soon I’m above the tree line, and in a more alpine environment. Walking through grasses and low heath, taller peaks in the distance become visible – Elveskardtindan (1243m) and Hogfjellet (1235m). I think it’s these ones… please correct me if I’m wrong!

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A few more minutes walking, and a waterfall appears on the right, fed by the lake (Sommarsetvatnet) above, that I can’t yet see.

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Another ten minutes and I reach Sommarsetvatnet, a small lake surrounded by taller mountains.

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The trail follows the lake for a few hundred metres before it stops. There is a peak (Lifjellet) above the eastern side of the lake – the side that I’m on – which promises a better view of the area. And a ridge to the north-east that might provide views back to the fjord… It’s steep but easy walking and scrambling up the slope from the lake.

The views are inspiring despite the the overcast conditions, and get better as I scramble up the scree and grassy slope from 520m.

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I don’t quite reach the Lifjellet summit at 982m due to time constraints, although I couldn’t see a trig point or any discernible peak. The highest point I get to is 932m, with the view improving as I climb – I can see all the way from Sommarsetvatnet and across Sagfjorden to the peaks on the other side of the fjord.

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I slowly scramble back down to re-join the path near the end of the lake, and take the same trail back down. To the lake and back is about 9km; with the off-track hiking up to the Lifjellet peak the total distance covered is 12.5km. Considering my low expectations, it turned out to be a fantastic walk.

Location Near Sommarset on Route 152. Turn onto Route 152 from National Highway 84 and continue 3km. Nearest major town is Sjøvegan.
If you are coming from the E6, turn right by Brandvoll and follow the road to Sjøvegan. At the first intersection after the Salangen Church, a left, and follow signs towards “Salangen Helserehab” and “Elvelund”. Follow this road, Highway 84, for a few minutes until you come to “Laberg”. When you see the sign toward Garsnes Brygge, turn right and follow the road.
Distance 12.5km round-trip with 880m ascent. Allow 4-5 hours.
Grade Moderate. Some off-track walking to reach Lifjellet summit
Season/s June-October
Map Topographical maps on-line at GotTur.no
GPS Route Routie GPS trail. View route and export to KML format.
Resources Nil. If staying at Garsnes Brygge, staff can provide some info.
Photos Google Photos album
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Map of Sommarsetvatnet route and elevation of hike