Monday, 1 May 2017


When the Hong Kong government rescinded the ‘closed area’ status of the area around Ta Kwu Ling at the beginning of 2016, I spent a lot of time exploring this newly opened part of the New Territories. At one point, I cycled along Lin Ma Hang Road from the junction circled on the map below until I came to a police road block and could go no further. There didn’t seem a lot of point in riding up to the checkpoint merely to return the way I’d come, so the cycling route that I subsequently did every Sunday, ‘the final frontier’, approached the circled junction from the southeast and left westwards.

However, today was a public holiday, which meant that Paula was along for the ride, and I decided to check whether the police road block was still in place, and if not how much further along the road we could go. It was still there, unfortunately, but as we rode along I’d noticed a road that turned off to the left (north), so, with nothing better to do, having been turned back, I thought that we might take a closer look. I might reasonably have anticipated a tough cycling challenge, but I didn’t expect a history lesson!

But first the road:

It might be that I went at the hill too aggressively, or it might be that having been cycling on the previous three days I had no more gas in the tank, but I reached the blue sign that you can see in the previous photo, took one look at what was still to come:

…and decided that I needed a rest. Paula concurred:

I took this photo to illustrate the gradient, which is steady throughout the climb and is probably around 25 percent.

After a short rest, the reminder of the climb didn’t seem so bad, but although the road levelled out beyond what you can see in the last photo in the above sequence, it didn’t go any further, instead opening out into a helipad (the red X on the map). However, there was a long flight of concrete steps.

“Let’s see where they go,” said Paula.

“Lead on,” I said:

Having reached the top of the steps seen in the previous photo, we were rewarded with some splendid views of eastern Shenzhen, but there was more:

Notice the concrete bunker in the foreground, but notice too that the steps continue upwards. Almost immediately, however, we reached a locked gate. But next to the gate was a stainless steel plaque with the following information:
MacIntosh fort at Pak Fu Shan [near Ta Kwu Ling] is one of the seven observation posts safeguarding the border against illegal immigrants. The forts were built between 1949 and 1953, when there was an influx of refugees from mainland China due to political instability. Duncan William MacIntosh, the commissioner of police, decided to build a chain of observation posts (forts) on prominent hilltops to strengthen the border defense [sic]. The forts were guarded day and night, playing a prominent role in tackling illegal immigrants.

All the MacIntosh Forts were built in reinforced concrete of the same style and of very similar design and almost identical layout….

The historic building is accorded Grade 2 status.
I’ve omitted the detailed description of the design, but this is as close as we could get to the fort:

Although there was nothing more to see here, when we returned to the helipad we did notice another concrete bunker on the hillside to the left of the steps:

Paula scrambled up the hillside and took this photo of the entrance:

The function of this bunker isn’t obvious, but the hill does provide a good vantage point for military purposes, and it turns out to have been constructed by the Japanese army during its occupation of the then British colony during the Second World War. And I’ve started to wonder where the other six forts are located. I think I know the whereabouts of two, but that leaves four unaccounted for.

This is not somewhere that is likely to feature on future cycling itineraries, but bear in mind that we had to stop for a rest halfway up the hill. This means that we will have to return at least once, just to prove to ourselves that we can do the hill in one go.


  1. The view of a historical site and the unfolding change of landscape in China serve the breath taking ride up the slope ;-)

    1. Views of the changing landscape in China may be breathtaking, but the climb merely takes your breath away!


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