Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail
Ancient Trail Story
Located in Tai Lam Country Park, Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail was the main route taken by villagers in the vicinity of Yuen Long Shap Pat Heung. They used to carry the farm product on a pole over their shoulders and climb mountains and ridges to sell them in farmer’s markets in Tsuen Wan. The trail was also served as a corridor for mountain villages to travel to other places. The ancient trail comprises a stone paved and mud paved sections. A few granite bridges can also be seen along the trail. As time passed, certain parts of the ancient trail are now cemented, and the former ancient trail for making long trips has now become a popular hiking trail for locals and tourists who enjoy hiking in the mountains. Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail connects various ancient trails, which are all named after the villages along it. These include Nam Hang Pai Ancient Trail, Ma Tai Tung Ancient Trail, Nam Sham Ancient Trail (connecting Nam Hang Pai and Sham Tseng), Yuen Tsing Ancient trail (connecting Yuen Tuen and Tsing Fai Tong) and Sham Tsing Ancient Trail (connecting Sham Tseng and Tsing Fai Tong), etc.
Starting from Tsuen Wan and past Shek Lung Kung over 400m above sea level, the stunning views of Tsing Yi, Rambler Channel, Ting Kau Bridge, Tsing Ma Bridge and Lantau can be seen. In ancient times, Tsuen Wan was called Chin Wan, a name taken after the shallow bay. The Rambler Channel area was called Sam Pak Chin (literally, three hundred coins). It was said that vessels crossing this channel had to pay three hundred coins as fees, and commercial vessels were often stranded during low tides. There was a saying about the situation, “go to San Francisco if you want to get rich, go to Tsuen Wan if you want to die”. After much reclamation, the former bay has now become the home to high rise buildings that lit up thousands of households at night. Shek Lung Kung is certainly a witness to an era.
You walk pass a few villages along the trail, including one at the farthest east of Tuen Mun district - Tin Fu Tsai Village, which is more than four hundred years old. Tin Fu Tsai is situated at the heart of Tai Lam Country Park. It is a Hakka village of the Choi’s clan and is still inhabited. Tracing back to the beginning of the village, the ancestors of the Choi’s thought Tin Fu Tsai’s location deep in a high mountain could prevent the harassment of pirates and therefore established a village there. Tsing Fai Tong Village is another village along the trail. It was resided by migrants from Wuhua county of Guangdong since about three centuries ago. It was thought to possess high quality land, mountain and water resources, which were favourable for farming rice and became a settlement. Only one household is still living in the village.
Besides Tin Fu Tsai and Tsing Fai Tong, the ancient trail also connects other villages. Yet, because of inconvenient transport and deteriorating water source, fields were abandoned. Villagers have already moved to live in the urban area. Only old huts and cattle – the good companions of farmers – are left behind.
Back then Hoi Pa Resite Village in Tsuen Wan was also a port and the main farmer’s market of Tsuen Wan. Farmer’s markets began to emerge near Tai Kiu Tun in Yuen Long after Ming dynasty. They were abandoned after the promulgation of the decree of the Great Clearance. Yuen Long old market was rebuilt in 1669. It was opened on the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 13th, 16th, 19th, 23rd, 26th, 29th day of the lunar calendar. By the 1850s, there were more than 100 stores and an inn. By the 1910s, villagers of Shap Pat Heung and Pat Heung joined up with Ping Shan residents and formed Hop Yik Company and established a new market located at present-day “Ng Hop Street” area. The market opened on the same dates of the Yuen Long old market. Castle Peak Road was completed in the 1920s. Since it was closer to the new market, transportation of products became more convenient and foot traffic to the new market was much better than that of the old market. Subsequently, it developed into the largest farmer’s market in the New Territories. Roads do have an indivisible relationship with the prosperity of a place. Following the development of the Yuen Long new town, the new market vanished in 1984.
The route on this website is listed to be conveniently accessible by public transport, which may differ from the actual alignment of the ancient trail.
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