distance: about 5km but both of our tracking apps malfunctioned so I’m not 100% sure.
time: 2¼ leisurely hours, we stopped to look at many things.
difficulty: 3/5 – the very first section
water: 0.5L – in the winter I hardly needed any water.
shade: not that much, especially for the road portion.
mobile network: not really, the whole valley had very bad signal.
enjoyment: 5.5/10 – if you hate road walking then this might not be the one for you but actually it was some of the nicest road walking I’ve done. As a lazy Sunday afternoon walk it was pretty good.
We had a quick look in the old school and made use of the toilets before heading off on our walk.
Just a short way down the road from the car park a trail goes off on the right, there’s a small map but it’s another one of those mostly unhelpful ones.
The walk starts off winding down through coniferous forest which I quite enjoyed because it’s unlike the more jungle-y feel elsewhere.
Five to ten minutes into the walk we arrived at a small bridge over a stream, the path just before the bridge had been damaged by a falling tree but it was clear that many other people had passed it. Beyond the bridge the path turns off to the right following the sign which says 往楊石屋, (to the Stone House).
This part of the walk runs alongside a small stream and seemed like it was very infrequently travelled, the path was narrow and a little overgrown. The Chinese-language site that we’d found the walk on said that in spring the path can disappear completely if it’s not walked for a while. However this part is really short, it only took us five minutes.
We started to pass abandoned farm buildings and just after one with a large fish pond, (there were two large koi carp doing circuits), we came out onto a small road and turned left going up past more buildings. The road goes uphill and turns right as it becomes more of a track than a road.
The road doesn’t go far though and it changes back into a small path which goes right passed this abandoned house and barns. The path here is paved but it still feels infrequently travelled, bamboo leaves and husks litter the floor and the bamboo trees were some of the largest I’ve ever seen – huge, towering things in large clusters.
Just before you meet the road again (it’s visible through the leaves to the right of the photo), the path goes off uphill and slightly left towards 往三號石橋.
There’s one more possible turn off to the road but it’s easy to ignore so just keep going in the path.
About 10 minute after the last sign (and half an hour after starting the walk) we emerged at ‘the stone house’. There’s a good view of a duck and chicken farm nestled in the valley and as luck would have it, just as we arrived, the old man who owns the farm was walking up the track being followed by his flock of hungry chickens. He turned out to be the builder of the ‘Stone House’ that the signs all mentioned and was keen to show us the craftsmanship. He told us that he was a stone mason by trade but that he was worried that today’s younger generation had never learnt the skills he has and that he wishes that they could be passed on. To that end he asked his daughter to help set up a website and now he hosts small tour groups of people who’re interested in coming to see how it’s done. He also told us that unless we wanted to go back the same way then we should just keep going left on the road to get back to where we started. I’m not sure if it’s just that Teresa often starts conversations with random strangers more than most people or if we’re running into that famed Taiwan friendliness but it seems that we find people to chat to on every walk and it’s very good listening practise for me.
After leaving the Stone House man we joined the main road and turned left.
The road snakes along the side of the valley passing small settlements and farms and with some wonderful views to the left. This area has a lot of orange farms and we could see the fruit, tantalisingly nearly ripe seeming. We also passed a temple, an abandoned house with a weird, mutant spider-thing, a beautifully eroded sandstone rock-face and saw a betel nut plantation on a distant slope. Considering that the road section was most of the walk, it was actually pretty pleasant. There was very little traffic and the variety of scenery, plants and other things to observe kept it interesting.
At the junction we turned left again and it was a little under 1km back to where we started.
how to get there:
google maps address: 312, Hsinchu County, Hengshan Township, 豐鄉村 – this takes you to the car park for an old elementary school which was opened as a cafe 30 years after it ran out of students.
GPS address: N24 41.165 E121 8.323
public transport: no buses run here so you might find it hard to get here without your own transport. There’s a taxi stand at the starting point though so you might be able to arrange for a taxi to collect you.
My new words learnt on this hike were:
- 技術 / jìshù / skill/skilfulness/technique/technology – how can one word mean so many…?
- 流行 / liúxíng / popular
- 玫瑰花 / méiguī huā / roses
- 火龍果 / huǒlóng guǒ / dragon fruit
- 喝醉了 / hē zuìle / drunk