Feeling drained from a week of almost single-handedly tending to a sick baby, I desperately needed a run for some fresh air and recharging, yet didn’t want to deplete myself any further. So I headed to my go-to quickie loop that’s short, sweet, and has just enough dirt to whet my daily appetite for trail. From home I head up Wan Chai Gap, go along Bowen towards Mag Gap, but not before the end I disappear up a hidden bit of stairs into the foliage. This brings me to Dutch Lane, or the aforementioned dirt.
Dutch Lane, or Hollandse Laan in Dutch, or 荷蘭徑 or 荷蘭灣徑 (Hor Lan Geng or Hor Lan Wan Geng) in Mandarin, connects Wan Chai Gap and Magazine Gap Reservoir. It’s so named because for many years, Dutch people used to walk from residential properties owned by a Dutch shipping line at Peak Road along this trail to Wan Chai Gap and on to their offices.
Since moving to Hong Kong in 2011 I’ve always lived in Wan Chai, and so very soon I discovered Dutch Lane on one of my exploratory runs in my “backyard”. I love it because it parallels Bowen but takes you away from the busyness of the city’s most popular running path. It’s wonderfully shaded, so even in the thick of summer you’re never roasting. It’s padded on both sides with lots of trees, some colourful flowers, and sprinkled with a few waterfalls. And, as you run, you play peek-a-boo with Victoria Harbour.
But the best part, at about 1.5km long, it’s short and fun enough for that quick recovery trail run on tired days. It’s flat but also full of rocks and roots, so it does provide a little challenge. On rainy days, when the path turns to slush, it’s extra fun. On days that I want a longer run, it’s a great connection to Mag Gap, where I then branch off to smaller paths and trails towards the Peak (many choices!).
Since April 2012, Dutch Lane hasn’t been so secret anymore, as a sign was put up along Wan Chai Gap to mark the historic path. I’ve noticed many more hikers on it. Still, it remains one of my frequent and favourite jaunts on the island.