November 25, 2011

Woodlands Town to Bukit Panjang via Ulu Sembawang Park Connector

The Route
This route came about to satisfy two criteria viz. to walk along park connectors with their well paved tracks and secondly along forests for their shade, greenery and away from traffic. We achieved this by starting from Woodlands (Causeway Point) after a hearty lunch and proceeding southward along the Woodlands Park Connector (Ave 2) to the Ulu Sembawang Park Connector (PCN) to the Mandai PCN. Then we travelled along Track 15 (Central Catchment PCN) in Mandai to the Gangsa Bike Trail to Bukit Panjang. See the GPS track below.
Open field at Woodlands Park Connector

Woodlands Park Connector
Walking along the Park Connector from Woodlands to Ulu Sembawang was uneventful except for the hot weather as we started walking at about 12 noon. After walking southward along Ave 2, we passed the Singapore Sports School where our elite athletes train and have their education. The path eastward from the school was blissful and reminded us of the Von Trapp children singing in the Austrian Alps as the track bordered a huge expanse of wide open field on high ground making us feeling liberated. On a previous trip one of our fellow walkers found a lost kite and ran with it and I sang "the hills are filled with the sound of music, etc." Unfortunately he suffered a minor injury as a result but is okay now. Before embarking on this stretch, one got to be careful of thunderstorms as it is exposed.

Ulu Sembawang Park Connector
Near the junction of Ave 12 and the SLE we headed southward along the Ulu Sembawang PCN. This track took us through the forests of Mandai used by Mindef for training their troops. On the west was the Mandai forest with the forbidding "Protected Area" sign and on the east were the farms. The track was just opened several months ago - kudos to the Nparks for building it and allowing us access through the Mandai forest. At the end was Mandai Road and the Seletar Reservoir. We turned west towards the Singapore Zoo direction. We could see the outline of durian trees as we walked, but no fruits as it was out of season.

Central Catchment Park Connector
At the Mandai Lake Road which led to the Zoo, we followed a track called the Central Catchment PCN. This narrow track is within the forest of Mandai and is left unpaved as close to its natural condition. There were occasional fallen trees due to heavy rain and wind but we were able to continue our trek. This trail roughly parallel Track 15  leading to the Mandai Rifle Range. On certain days we could hear the sound of gunfire. As we proceeded along, we could spot the silhouette of durian trees. This was dutifully recorded as a POI on our GPS track for a visit when the fruit is in season. The Central Reserve PCN had been realigned to join up with the Gangsa Bike Trail to which we emerged when we came to the end of the park connector.
Gangsa Bike Trail

Gangsa Bike Trail
We did a side trip to the PUB pumping station to clock up the mileage we wanted to achieve. The bike trail was easy going although we were accompanied by mosquitos but thanks to our buddies for whom they had more affection, the rest of us were spared the ordeal. Towards the end of our trek we arrived at the abandoned garden beside the BKE under which we walked toward Bukit Panjang Kim San Leng coffee-shop for a short rest before heading home.
GPS Track

Map data ©2020 Google, Urban Redevelopment Authority

November 10, 2011

Punggol Waterway | Punggol Promenade

It was a gloomy and cloudy day with constant light rain throughout our walk. We were in high spirits as our group had swollen to 9 that day as all could make it for the walk and with the addition of a new member PC. It was strange that the 'initiation' (though uncalled for) of a new member seemed to involve wearing long pants on his first walk while the rest wore shorts.

Jewel Bridge

We immediately commenced our walk after alighting from the bus at the Punggol Interchange. We started the walk with one arm stretched out with our brollies unfolded to receive the blessings from the sky. The aim was to recce the Punggol Waterway from the Punggol Reservoir in the west to the Serangoon Reservoir in the east, then turn left at the Horseshoe Bridge to the north and walk on along the Punggol Promenade to Punggol Point covering about 10km.

Adventure Bridge

Punggol Waterway
At the bridge on Punggol Walk, the bridge with the leaning semicircle, we clambered down the slope toward the park connector below to begin our walk toward the western part of the Waterway. At the western end of the Waterway was the Jewel Bridge. From here one could see the Punggol Dam and the Punggol Marina is next to it. This bridge is also part of the Punggol Park Connector which runs along the Punggol Reservoir. Using the Jewel Bridge we crossed the Waterway to head back toward the eastern part of Punggol. After passing under the LRT line, there was a boardwalk (Watersports Promenade) that extended over the Waterway. This provided visitors a closer perspective of the Waterway. Opposite this was a small viewing platform that jutted out from the hillside. Its roof resembled a Minangkabau house with its front end jutting high into the sky. After this we came past the Kelong Bridge as its pillars reminded us of the kelong stakes driven into the sea.

Watersports Promenade

We started our walk at 11am hoping to find some F&B outlets along the track. But there was none. Luckily we remembered from an earlier walk that there was a coffee-shop on Punggol Road so when the track was about to cross Punggol Road (just after the Kelong Bridge) we headed for this place which was just about 600m away on the right at Block 301. By this time, we were ravenously hungry but some members were so absorbed in the walk that they forgot that we had not eaten. Finally we had a satisfying lunch while the sky was pouring outside. We resisted the temptation to have a beer despite a suggestion from P as we needed all our senses to enjoy our first visit to the Punggol Waterway and the Punggol Promenade.

Horseshoe Bridge

After lunch we returned to the Kelong Bridge next to Punggol Road and continued our walk along the Punggol Waterway. The tracks on both sides of the Waterway were finished save for some finishing touches. Several cyclists passed us so we were confident that the rest of the tracks were ready. Along the canal were rain shelters and rest stops and plants with the environment landscaped to give a natural look. The newly planted trees did not provide any shade. At the eastern end was the so-called Horseshoe Bridge because of its shape. This was tastefully designed to provide a gentle curve and also allow bikes to be pushed up. When you lookout from the bridge you could see from the left the Serangoon East Dam, in front the Lorong Halus Wetland Park and on the right the bridge leading to Lorong Halus Wetland Park from the Punggol Promenade.

Punggol Promenade

Punggol Promenade
After a short rest at the Horseshoe Bridge, we moved on to the dirt track made of red laterite. It is a better surface than the railway track (before the removal of the rails) but when it's wet your shoes and bike tyres will be dirty. Other than that the walk here was easy going with trees on the left and the Serangoon Reservoir on the right. There was also a dirt track that parallel the Punggol Promenade. We walked nearer the dam and then followed the coast opposite Coney (Pulau Serangoon) Island. The walk throughout was on level ground so nothing strenuous. From the Horseshoe Bridge to Punggol Point was about 3.5km to which we eventually reach by about 4pm a most enjoyable walk with the light drizzle and excellent camaraderie from the group. After boarding the bus for home we informed PC that he was now a full member of the group and could wear shorts on the next outing.

Arriving at Punggol Point

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