Lin Ma Hang is situated very close to the border with China, not far from Sha Tau Kok town. Until 2012 it was inside the border closed area, so access was only allowed with special permits. Now the area has been opened up, so it can be accessed without special permits. However as it is so remote, not many people go there.
The mine operated until the 1960s, producing mostly lead, but also small quantities of silver and other minerals. Production was halted as the cost were too high to make it economical. The mine itself is far from exhausted.
Together with my wife, son, and friend Rex we set off after an early lunch in Fanling, taking a minibus towards Sha Tau Kok. We got off where the map showed the shortest route up. This was a very steep, seriously overgrown trail, and the wet weather made the rocks rather slippery. That was a bit of a setback, it was much harder than anticipated. The views were great, we could see Starling Inlet and the villages along its shores.
But an hour and a half or so later we managed to make it to the peak of Robin’s Nest. The clouds had come down, so we were walking mostly in the clouds, without much of a view. That’s always a pity. Down the other side to the mine, this again was really steep and slow going.
It was already well into the afternoon when we finally reached our main goal: the Lin Ma Hang mine. Unfortunately we had only time to explore the lower level of the mine a bit, walking around the tunnels. There is something eery about those mines, trying to imagine how it must have been to dig through the hard rock with nothing more than hand tools and oil lamps for light – which is how it was done before electricity became available.
Soon we had to make our way back, up Robin’s Nest again and then the longer but easier paved road down to the main road for a minibus back to civilisation. On the road there we discovered a Hong Kong Newt. What that amphibian was doing so far away from a watercourse I don’t know.
The clouds were magnificent. In the fading light it gave the landscape a fairytale look. One thin cloud covered a hill, my son thought this meant the mountain was asleep, sleeping under the cloud blanket.
The hike was much tougher than anticipated, but it is a place to return to, for sure. Next time we must leave a lot earlier though, and probably take the longer way up. The mines were fantastic, and are certainly worth a follow-up visit for deeper exploration.