Ridge and famous

Ridge and famous


Visitors are flocking to the Southern Ridges, a series of hill trails linking Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge parks, to take in the beautiful scenery


By Tay Suan Chiang


Move over, Singapore Flyer. The latest view to a thrill in Singapore is the Southern Ridges, a 9km series of hill trails with West Coast Park and HarbourFront MRT station at either end.


The final pieces of this ridge-to-ridge ramble through Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge parks fell into place last month with the opening of two pedestrian bridges – the Alexandra Arch and the Henderson Waves – and an elevated 1.3km walkway called the Forest Walk.


The links are the completion of a two-year, $25.5-million project by the Urban Redevelopment Authority that is part of a wider scheme where one day nature lovers will be able to do a circuit of the whole island.


Since the opening of the new links three weekends ago, Singaporeans have been flocking to explore the delights of the Southern Ridges.


Couples getting married, joggers, retirees, families with kids and shutterbugs are among those LifeStyle spotted taking in the sights, where once just nearby residents ventured for a short, quiet stroll.


The most popular destination is the distinctive wave-shaped, steel-and-timber Henderson Waves, a pedestrian bridge spanning 274m across Henderson Road and which links Telok Blangah Hill Park to Mount Faber. At a height of 36m, it is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge.


Polytechnic lecturer Low Hann Ming, 38, was there with his family of nine one Saturday morning.


‘We live opposite and can see the bridge from our flat so we decided to check it out,’ he says, adding that the bridge is beautiful and the views are amazing.


With the school holidays now on, housewife Tan Tiong Gek, 61, took her two grandsons to Henderson Waves.


‘The kids love it here as they can run around and the view is fantastic,’ says the Bukit Merah View resident. ‘We’ve taken more than 20 photographs already.’


The bridge’s wave-like design is by British architects IJP Corporation and Singapore’s RSP Architects Planners and Engineers, which won the bid to design it in a competition.


The bridge has seven undulating, curved ribs that rise over and under the bridge deck. The ribs form alcoves, providing visitors with shelter and seats within.


‘The ribs make a dramatic backdrop,’ says wedding photographer Ng Lam, 42, who took newlyweds Stella Lim and Wilson Ooi there to take pictures.


‘It’s a new location for wedding photography, otherwise it will be the usual spots such as Sentosa or Botanic Gardens,’ says Mr Ng.


Another popular spot among visitors is the newly opened HortPark which boasts themed gardens.


The Southern Ridges offer breathtaking views of the Telok Blangah area, and also provide an up-close-and- personal experience of nature as the trails cut through lush greenery.


Walk through the forested areas and you can hear cricket calls and birds chirping. Monkeys have also been spotted, especially at the new elevated walkway heading to Alexandra Arch, designed by local company Look Architects.


The 80m-long Arch goes across Alexandra Road to the meandering walkway that eventually leads to Telok Blangah Hill Park.


One fan of the ridges is housewife Mary Lim, 44. The Bukit Merah resident often goes there for her thrice-weekly walks.


‘It has got a lot more crowded now, but it’s good that more Singaporeans are discovering such beautiful spots,’ she says.


Architecture buffs will enjoy visiting two historical buildings, including Alkaff Mansion at Telok Blangah Hill. The now-abandoned mansion was built in the 1920s by Yemeni businessman Syed Abdul Rahman Alkaff as a family retreat.


The other historical building is the Danish Seamen’s Church, near Mount Faber Park, formerly a private residence. Built in 1909, the Victorian house has many fine details, such as a corner circular tower and unique star-shape holes in cornices.


The area is not just attracting nearby residents.


Last weekend, LifeStyle bumped into secretary Yvonne Soh, 34, who came all the way from Woodlands with a group of friends to check it out. The first-time visitors started their walk at Harbourfront and planned to walk to Kent Ridge Park. The trip takes 21/2 hours.


‘It’s an easy and relaxing walk and also something new to see for all of us,’ she says.





Getting There


It’s advisable to take a bus to the Southern Ridges’ scenic spots or else you will have to back-track to get your car.


Best time to go: early in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.




Henderson Waves: Buses 131, 145, 176 or 648; alight at bus stop along Henderson Road, take staircase up to Mount Faber Park.


If you are driving, head towards Henderson Road. There are 56 parking lots at the Telok Blangah Hill carpark. Or drive up to Mount Faber where there are 17 lots at carpark D, a short distance from Henderson Waves.




Mount Faber Park: Bus 409 goes from Seah Im Bus Interchange to Mount Faber Park, but it operates only from 9am to 11.30pm on weekends. If driving, go up Mount Faber Road. Parking is available at Mount Faber Park.


Forest Walk: Buses 51, 61, 93, 97, 100, 166 or 963; alight at bus stop along Alexandra Road at junction of Hyderabad Road. If driving, parking is available at HortPark or Telok Blangah Hill Park.


HortPark: Buses 51, 61, 93, 97, 100, 166 or 963 stop at Alexandra Road and it’s a short walk to HortPark. Parking is also available at HortPark.


Canopy Walk: By bus, alight at Alexandra Road and it is a 25-minute walk to the Canopy Walk via HortPark. If driving, there are carparks in Vigilante Drive and Pepys Road.



What to take along


Camera: Henderson Waves is the hot spot for taking scenic photos.


Water: A must as it can get hot even during the early morning and evening.


Cap, sunglasses, towel: Stay cool and protect your eyes from the sun’s rays. A towel is handy for wiping off perspiration.


Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes for walking.





Other Nature Walks


Chek Jawa


Where: Pulau Ubin


What: The Chek Jawa wetlands have one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems, where sandy shores, rocky beaches, seagrass lagoons, coral rubble, mangroves and coastal forests can all be seen in a 100ha area.


New amenities include a 1.1km boardwalk, a 20m viewing tower and a visitor centre with a viewing jetty.


Open: 8.30am to 6pm daily. Entry is free.


Getting there: At the Ubin jetty, hire a van or rent a bicycle from the main village. Or walk – it takes about 40 minutes.




Bukit Timah Nature Reserve


Where: Hindhede Drive


What: The 163ha reserve retains one of the largest tracts of primary rainforest left in Singapore, with over 840 types of flowering plants. It’s also home to over 500 species of animals. And it’s the location of Singapore’s highest hill, Bukit Timah Hill, which is 163m high.


Open: All hours. Entry is free.


Getting there: From Upper Bukit Timah Road, turn into Hindhede Drive.




HSBC TreeTop Walk


Where: MacRitchie Reservoir


What: This 250m-long suspension bridge connects two highest points in the reservoir area – Bukit Pierce and Bukit Kalang. Its highest point off the ground is 25m, offering a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy.


Open: Tuesdays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm; weekends and public holidays, 8.30am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays. Entry is free.


Getting there: From MacRitchie Reservoir Park via its nature trail, or from Venus Drive, off Upper Thomson Road.




Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve


Where: 301 Neo Tiew Crescent


What: A 130ha wetland nature reserve. See mangroves, flora and fauna such as mudskippers and crabs.


From September to March, migratory shorebirds such as plovers and sandpipers stop by.


Open: Mondays to Fridays, 7.30am to 7pm; weekends and public holidays, 7am to 7pm. Free entry except on weekends, public holidays and school holidays, where admission fees are $1 per adult and 50 cents per child, student and senior citizen.


Getting there: SMRT Bus 925 from Kranji MRT station. Alight at Kranji Reservoir carpark for a 15-minute walk to the reserve.



Source: Straits Times

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