There used to be a couple of granite quarries in the vicinity of Bukit Timah that have now been rehabilitated and transformed into beautiful nature spots. Most of these can be explored in a half day itinerary on foot. If you’re looking for something unique to do in Singapore, this could just be it!
While more is known of Singapore’s glistering skyscrapers and waterfront, there are many ways that you can easily get back in touch with nature, just minutes from the city. Some time back I added a one day itinerary for a hike through Southwest Singapore. Here’s my second Singapore day hike itinerary, exploring the former quarries on the mainland. At a brisk pace this can be done in half a day and will take you to places off the beaten path in Singapore.
Bukit Timah Granite is a geological formation that makes up much of the bedrock in the middle of Singapore. Along with Bukit Gombak Norite, these formations were made of extremely hard rocks that were ideal for construction. You can read more on Singapore’s geology in this cool report. In the early 1900s granite quarries sprouted in the area, providing materials for many of the buildings in early Singapore. Quarrying activities reached a peak around the 70s before environmental and public concerns culminated in the phasing out of granite quarrying in Singapore. Some were filled in with earth, others with water. Some were turned into public parks, and others abandoned. Here’s an half to full day itinerary checking out a couple of the more prominent ones you still can find today. I’ve also added a couple of detours to nearby sights to check out if you have time.
I started this hike after lunch and got to the end just before dusk. The first stop is an abandoned quarry that I had been intending to visit for a long time. There isn’t any proper path here, and a little bit of roughing to do to find the quarry, so if you prefer something safe(r), skip Seng Chew Quarry, as the second stop requires passing Bukit Gombak MRT Station again.
From the station, exit in the direction of Bukit Gombak Sports Hall and follow the park connector under the train tracks. You’d pass a hill with dense foliage on the right. About 250m later the foliage clears, and there should be a drain on its border, often with an outflow. The water comes from the quarry, and tracing it would lead you there. However, I found the hill to steep to climb and so I went around it, turning right at the block of flats. Beyond the block of flats the hill is gentler to climb. Here’s where I started climbing in.
Around 50m into the forest there’s a broken fence, and beyond the fence, Seng Chew Quarry. Feels almost surreal, just minutes from the busy heartlands. Abruptly, not a single soul in sight. Over the years nature has reclaimed what’s hers. There must have been dozens of different bird species from their calls I heard, though I couldn’t spot them. All was quiet, the water was still. Just a few last pieces of paradise in Singapore where you can get away from everyone, even if just for moments.