Ma Tang Ancient Trail
Ancient Trail Story
The century old ancient trail section paved with mud and rocks that connects A Ma Wat Village and Wu Kau Tang is known as Ma Tang Ancient Trail. It was the main route taken by village residents who carried farm produce to travel to Tai Po Market and Tung Wo Market (present-day Sha Tau Kok). Hakka villagers with the surname Lee were said to have built the village at A Ma Wat in 1755. According to the 1899 report “Extension of the Territory of the Colony of Hong Kong, A Ma Wat used to be resided by 60 people. Villagers mainly farmed for a living and life was harsh for them.
“Indigenous inhabitants” of the New Territories were all migrants from the middle plains, including the tribes of Guangfu and Hakka. Guangfu people began moving to the area since the 11th century and occupied most of the more fertile land in the plains of the New Territories. There was a substantial population and most farmers’ households had their own land and led well-off lives. Hakka, on the other hand, only moved in after “the Great Clearance and Border Restoration” in early Qing. As most of the plains were already developed, they could only become “hired farmers” of the locals or rent land to become “tenant farmers” or became “owner farmers” who opened up slopes and planted in more remote areas. Therefore, their lives were more difficult, and their population was smaller and scattered. Both tribes mainly supported their living by planting rice.
Inscribed with the reasons for building the road, the stele “brief story on the construction of the road that directly connects Lai Chi Wo Village to Tung Wo Market” can be found on the ancient trail. The trail was built for the convenience of villagers as this particular section was not walking friendly. This ancient trail was the main corridor for A Ma Wat and Wu Kau Tang to travel to other villages. A brick-built Tin Hau Ancient Temple was still preserved at A Ma Wat Village. It is now hidden deep in the uninhabited mountains. The façade of the temple used to feature decorative fish-shaped water drain sculptures. Since Tin Hau ancient temple is also known as Ma Niang Temple, it is believed the name of village was related to this ancient temple. The ending section of the ancient trail overlooks the mesmerizing panorama of Yan Chau Tong and Lai Chi Wo.
The ancient trail that connects Wu Kau Tang was originally known as Wu Kwai Tin – or literally the field of turtles. Legend has it that there were many turtles in the mountain pits and streams, which often climbed up to the field for food. Later on, it was renamed Wu Kau Tin for auspicious reasons, and subsequently, the place became Wu Kau Tang, which alludes to an idiom that means talented and distinguished. The characters of “Wu Kau Tin” can be seen on the direction rock in the village. There are seven Hakka villages in Wu Kau Tang, including Lo Wai, Ho Pui, Ling Pui, Tin Sam, Sun Uk , Sun Uk Ha and Sam Ka. All seven of them joined “Sha Tau Kok Sap Yeuk”, and formed an alliance with other villages (“yeuk” refers to an alliance entered by villages). The public school “Kok Kwan” was opened in 1958, although it was later abandoned. The Lee’s residing in Lo Wai Village were descendants of Tang’s emperors. Ho Pui Village, which is more than three centuries old, was the home of eight village houses and one ancestral hall (Wong’s) during its heyday. Tin Sum Village has more than two hundred years of history. Its villagers used to make a living by farming and firewood chopping. There are still some ten village houses in the village. Sun Uk, Ling Pui, Sam Ka Village, Lo Wai were all resided by the Lee clan. There used to be a nearby village called Chung Mei Village and there was a pier, where villagers of Sun Uk Village could take a boat and travel to Tai Po Market to sell their produce. However, Chung Mei Village and the pier was already lost to Plover Cove Reservoir during its construction in the 1960s. The government subsequently built roads to connect the various villages in Tai Mei Tuk and Wu Kau Tang. Villagers of Wu Kau Tang Village could reach Tai Po via Tai Mei Tuk ever since.
Walk around this century-old ancient trail on a holiday and observe the transformation over time from empty derelict houses.
The route on this website is introduced to be conveniently accessible by public transport, which may differ from the actual alignment of the ancient path.
Keep the noise down in the countryside
Respect villagers and their properties
Do not enter private places or architectures that might pose hazards of collapsing
Do not pick any farm produce
Do not climb on or take away any item in the village
Take your litter home
Overall Rating (5 hearts is the highest)
Wu Kau Tang Tseun
Tree House at Tin Sam Tsuen
Tin Sam Tsuen
Stream next to the trail
A Ma Wat
Overlooking Yan Chau Tong
End Point - Fan Shui Au
A monument for the track between Lai Chi Wo and Tung Wo Market
Overlooking Starling Inlet and Robin's Nest