Click here for the Shibanxi
Holiday 2010 report.
Click here for the extended Shibanxi
Holiday 2009 reports.
Got three or four hours to spare between trains in the Bagou
area? Why not work off all that excellent food with some light exercise? All
of these walks can be completed in the time available, if you are fit, rather
1. A gentle stroll on the south side.
Go to the bottom of town where the small bridge crosses the
stream below the 'wishing pond'. Go across it and after 100 metres or so
turn right on to the truck road. For the next hour or two follow this as it
winds in and out of side valleys as it climbs ever higher before following a
contour. Apart from just two paths which strike off up the hill and a few
more which go down, there is just one junction and you need to take the
right fork. To be honest the best part is the first bit where there are
excellent views of the town and the railway. In fact, if you time your walk
carefully you can incorporate a little steam photography (the second picture
was taken in June 2009 when the weather was much better!).
Further up there are a few small houses and much of the
hillside is being cleared, but it's very quiet here and if you take your
time the bird song is fascinating.
Eventually you get some views of the old Huangcun mine tip
(for more pictures see the Huangcun Horseshoe page)
before the dirt road finishes. Never mind, just continue down the small path
ahead and on the opposite side of the small valley you will meet a main path
coming up. Turn right and make your way down to the middle of the top of the
tip area and then descend to just outside Huangcun.
If you want to do this walk in the reverse direction it is
almost impossible to spot the turning off the path going up from the tip.
Instead take the path which goes up to the right just after the tip OR to
save a little time walk up the valley beyond the tip and take the path up to
the left. Both join the truck road which you can then follow back down to
2. The Three Kings Shrine ('San Huang Miao')
This walk can be combined with Walk 3 below if you have
sufficient time - even the Huangcun
Horseshoe walk too if you have enough time!
Sometimes it's the journey and not the destination that
matters and that is definitely the case here! Go to the bottom of town where
the small bridge crosses the stream below the 'wishing pond'. Go across it
and after 100 metres ignore the right turn and shortly take the truck road
diagonally up the hill with the mobile phone towers above. This gives you
excellent views of the town and the railway station.
Go round the corner at the top and follow the road until you
reach a major crossroads. The road ahead will take you to Huangdan (NOT the
way described in the 2009 Huangdan Hike) - it's
probably the most gentle of the various walking routes there from Bagou. The
road to the left leads down to Mamiao (NOT the way described in the 2009 Long
March to Mamiao) - see below for more information.
Instead turn right and follow the road as it climbs steeply, this is the
view looking back east:
Eventually it reaches the high ridge above Bagou with
fleeting glimpses of the town square.
Once on the top it's quite easy going and eventually the
road bears left and descends a little. Shortly after a path comes up from
the right, this will be your return route to Bagou. However, continue along
the truck road past an abandoned small house and quite soon a path branches
off to the left. Take the path until you come to the shrine - it's just a
boulder with a figure carved in it.
Continue on a short way and you will rejoin the truck road -
for a description of a spectacular walk using it see 'Bagou
Follies'. Turn sharp right and
follow it back until you reach the path on the left described above. This
descends steeply to the valley which is the first one that runs south
between Bagou and Huangcun, the scenery is never less than excellent.
In due course, you will reach the truck road described in
walk 1 (above). Either turn right on the truck road or follow the path down
to the flats at the west side of Bagou.
If you do the walk in reverse, you will need to care on the
ascent. Walk up the truck road as in Walk 1 (above) and when it is at its
most southerly point in the first valley, turn left on the path that crosses
it at right angles. Quite soon you will see a small path striking up the
hill on the left while the main path bears right. Go up this small path
until you reach the truck road. If you turn right when you meet it, then you
can then follow the instructions for the shrine as above but return to Bagou
by the truck road - just make sure you turn left at the crossroads behind
the mobile phone towers!
3. The Huangcun - Bagou
This walk can be combined with Walk 2 above if you have
sufficient time - even the Huangcun
Horseshoe walk too if you have enough time!
The start of this walk is the same as for the Huangcun
Horseshoe described in detail and illustrated separately. In brief,
climb the steep steps on the left coming from Bagou just before Huangcun to
the top of the old spoil tip. Half way across a path goes up the side of the
rock face on the right, follow this upwards until you reach the ridge. At
this point the Huangcun horseshoe walk turns right, instead turn left
(straight down to the valley ahead is uncharted territory for us).
Follow the path along the ridge, below on the left you will
see the windy truck road described in Walk 1 'A Gentle
Stroll on the South Side' above, it's well worth the extra effort to
climb up here as the views are splendid. The house in the top right is seen
in a later picture.
After a while you will come to a
four way junction, the three parts ahead are truck road. Bear slightly left
(above Yuehong) and follow the truck road along the ridge, ignoring minor roads on the right
There are further views down to the valley on the left
looking back towards the Huangcun spoil tip - seen through the haze at the
Eventually just as the road bears right and heads downhill, turn left
back up the branch road - proceeding onwards and down leads to Huangdan or
more exactly near the dam below the town (that route we followed another
time). This soon regains the ridge and follow this until
you come to a T-junction. The approach is behind and on the right of Yuehong
in the picture:
As it happens, directly above but invisible is the
'The Three Kings Shrine' described in Walk 2 above.
(To get to the shrine, turn right, walk about 100 metres up the road and
turn back left on the path. After the shrine continue down the path back to
the truck road).
Turn left on the truck road and follow it past the abandoned
house and bear left on to the path which descends straight back to Bagou
which is also part of Walk 2.
Alternatively carry on along the truck road which follows
the ridge before descending to the crossroads behind the mobile phone towers
above Bagou, turn left and follow the truck road back to Bagou.
4. The North West Passage
For our last day in Bagou, we had just one gap
in our knowledge of the ridge paths around the Bagou valley and the weather
was just right, cloudy but bright and there was no reason to expect any
special operation on the railway. After a quiet morning we set out at noon
along the railway track towards Huangcun, taking the steep path up just after
the last valley towards the cluster of tombs on the hillside. The Fengshui
must be propitious here and the path onwards followed a suspiciously flat
route, it seems it may have been a mine tip and this may be a ventilation
Climbing on up, the view back certainly tended
to suggest it.
We soon rejoined the truck road above
Bagou, turning left where we were joined by a near tame Hoopoe bird, we also
passed a delightful 'his and her' tomb:
At the next Y junction, we branched right and at
the top of the village turned right on the path up the hill described in the North
Side Walk below. Once we got to the truck road, this time we turned left
as it roughly followed the contours near to the ridge. It was as well we were
reasonably certain of our route as we didn't see a soul to ask. There were small
paths left and right which we ignored and at the first main junction we chose
to turn left - we suspect but will not know till our next visit that the road
to the right will connect to one of the villages north of Huangdan
which we have only seen from a distance. Similarly, at the next junction,
we confidently chose to fork right - the left road would, we were sure, have
finished shortly with a path on down for a premature return to Huangcun. On
down we went on, what was for us a virgin trail, until looking back we knew
that it was a view we had seen on the Huangcun
Horseshoe Walk. No wonder Yuehong had a smirk on her face.
After which we simply had to retrace our
earlier steps with a view west of the area to be explored on a future visit:
On this occasion, we eschewed the chance to
continue round the ridge and at the first main crossroads - a key point in the
Huangdan Hike - turned left and headed down for Huangcun, at this time of
year, it's a delightful approach:
The main feature is the Monkey Shrine, a
general picture appears in the report of the
Huangdan Hike, here are some close ups, the portrait formats are Buddhas,
the other is of 'Landlord and Landlady'.
Down below, I tried not very successfully to
get some ducks to co-operate while Yuehong took a well earned rest:
Down at Huangcun, before the afternoon train
arrived, it was necessary to shunt a couple of wagons which had delivered
material for the stream beautification project:
The banner encourages parents to have equal
regard for male and female offspring. Behind is Pop's grog shop - originally
the 'Jiayang Coal Mine Workers Service' it once provided items which ordinary
people were not allowed to buy. For all I know he used to serve behind the
counter then and he still serves us a beer at just CNY 2.5:
We jumped on the train as we had done the
journey on foot too many times in the last 3 weeks. I'm pleased to say that we
are so much part of the scenery that we were charged the local fare...
5. The Huangcun - Bagou
From Huangcun take the path which goes up the hill on the
north side through the houses by the station (and before the small coal
mine). Like us you may spot 'pig in a basket', not quite the 'chicken in a
basket' which was fashionable when I was young:
There are good views of both mine and station as you climb.
Once the path becomes less steep, there are a number of old
'heritage houses' indicated by the fact that they have been numbered - few
are still used, in fact one of them has been converted, in part, into a
small temple, unfortunately, it was locked when we visited. The sign reads 'Nian
Fo Tang' or 'Buddha Prayer Hall'
Once into the main settlement, you will meet the end of the
first truck road. If you want to see the settlements above Bagou, just
follow this as it winds along and then drops down into the end of Bagou
station by the tunnel. Alternatively, continue up through the houses.
Go across another truck road and look for the path which
goes on up the hill slightly to the right. The views back are very nice:
Ignore the path coming in from the right and eventually you will reach the ridge and another truck road.
To the left is (allegedly) Huangdan but for this walk turn right and go down
gently until you get to the T-junction above Bagou. Ahead is a dead end and
to the left a path goes down eventually reaching Jiaoba (see 2009 Jiaoba
Jaunt). At this point turn right and go down the road and into Bagou.
Doing this walk from Bagou, the route is easily followed if
you take the lower truck road, you just need to take the left branch as it
reaches the settlement above Huangcun. Taking the upper road, it would be
quite easy to miss the path back down to Huangcun. This grave (Li family,
the old man died in 1985) is opposite it.
6. The Mamiao Meander
2011 footnote - the road up from Mamiao has now been
concreted. Further, it extends beyond the end of the old truck road and
joins the track between Bagou and Tong Qian Ao.
This extremely pleasant walk doesn't actually reach Mamiao,
but it would be very easy to extend it to Mamiao and return using the valley
route described in the 'Long March to Mamiao'.
Instructions to join this walk from Mamiao are given at the end.
the truck road out of Bagou diagonally upwards towards the mobile phone
masts. Go round the corner at the top and follow the road until you
reach a major crossroads and turn left. What follows is a clockwise loop
which will return you to this position in some two hours - of course it is
possible to do it in either direction but the route is easier to find this
The truck road climbs slightly to pass one house on
the right and then starts to descend. At the next group of houses the return
path enters on the right but for now continue down the truck road for some
way making sure to take the right fork at the only major junction (I'm not
sure where the left turn takes you, it may lead down to the valley between
Bagou and Mamiao).
Eventually the road 'dies' and becomes a path. Continue
along this for a short way until you can see a house in front of you - there is no way
out ahead. Instead, take the zig zag path down into the small valley below, donít take the strong path left part way down. Keep going down to the bottom of the valley and cross the stream.
and then leave through the trees keeping roughly to the
contour until you come to a Y junction. Intuitively (like us) you would want
to continue left but it leads only to a house with views of the lower valley
path - accessible only to those with suitable wings.
Take the right fork
which leads up to a ridge and you can see another valley below, turn left.
After this point, you can descend the short distance to a truck road which comes
up from Mamiao and turn left to reach Mamiao eventually (by 2011 this road
had a concrete surface). For instructions to
return directly to Bagou, see below after the Mamiao section.
There is a nice
roadside shrine to the 'If you don't mind, could I have a boy baby, please,
God, Guan Yin'
Entry into Mamiao is next to a small coal mine which has at
least one small diesel locomotive and has recently changed from 300mm to
Mamiao must have an interesting history as there is a
monument to the civil war, watching over the coal pickers:
.Down by the water, coal is loaded directly into boats.
There are more pictures of Mamiao on the 2009 Long March to Mamiao
However, to return
to Bagou without visiting Mamiao turn right along the ridge back into the woods and when you exit drop
down above a small house and bear left which brings you to a second house.
The path passes immediately in front of the house and curves around above a
deep canyon. Follow this trail as it climbs back up towards the houses below
the main crossroads behind the mobile phone masts. (Note that by 2011, the
existence of the concrete road mentioned above may have altered some of this
as paths may have changed...)
have more time and want to include a visit to Mamiao then you can take the
truck road as described above and then return to Bagou using the valley
route. Alternatively, take the valley route to Mamiao. From there, instead
of retracing your steps, turn left on the truck road west just before the first
coal mine. Ignore the arch bridge on the left - the road is said to go to
Huangdan. Go straight up the truck road which climbs steeply out of the
valley into a more open area. Near the top turn left at the T-junction and
follow it until it ends at a small house. Take the path above the house up
into the woods and bear left. This joins the return ridge path described in
the paragraph above. If in doubt ask for Bagou - although there are several
paths everyone here is very friendly and eventually you will be able to see
the mobile phone masts which will help you avoid making mistakes - given
that you won't want to jump into a canyon you actually have precious little
On our day out we left Bagou at 11.30, walked to
Mamiao and back and still got back up the truck road in time for the afternoon passenger
train, as you can see, the light was dire:
Whichever route you choose, you'll have earned your beer...