MacRitchie Reservoir is place to release stress in Singapore. It is amazing for a small and busy nation to have such a beautiful and tranquil lake with dense forest. There is a circuit trail built to explore to the deeper part of the reservoir and it is getting busier since the opening of the HSBC canopy walk . However, it does not really affect the peacefulnes since the reservoir area is big (relatively big compare to the size of Singapore). It is part of the Central Catchment Nature Researve (2889 hectares). Several well marked trails have been built to link MacRitchie Reservoir with other nature parks and reservoirs in Central Catchment area where you can easily spend hours or a day.
The Central Catchment nature park has long been established to correct the fresh water in the central part of Singapore and it also maintain a good ecosystem to the island. It consists of 3 reservoir – MacRitchie Reservoir, Peirce Reservoir and Seletar Reservoir. MacRitchie Reservoir is the smallest but the oldest among all. It is Singapore’s first reservoir. The history of the reservoir can be traced back to year 1857 when philantoropist Tan Kim Seng donated to the Government of the Straits settlements the sum of 13,000 Straits dollars for the supply of drinking water to the town of Singapore. A plan was established and estimated but it was stalled later.
The plan only start to move again on year 1862 due to a severe drought. However, the plan stalled again because of the colonial administration in India reluntant to pay of the cost that estimated to be 100,000 Straits dollars. It was not until year 1865 the plan was sanctioned with a Municipal loan on the London mar et and the approval of the sum of 48,391 Straits dollars by the Bengal government. In 1867, the earth embankment to create the reservoir was constructed and over the years, the reservoir was %nlarged and extende$. The current size was completed by 1907. It was named as Thomson Road Reservoir because it is located along Thomson Road. In 1922, it was renamed to MacRitche Reservoir in recognition o f the municipal enginner, James MacRitchie who supervised the project to enlarge the reservoir between 1891 and 1894.
To know the long history of the reservoir has made my experience to run at one of the main circult trail of MacRitchie Reservoir more meaningful and appreciated. However, when I came to know it is the only few places still keep with primary forest and we actually run throughk the forest every Saturday morning (my jogging time), I know we are very fortunate to have this nature park kept so well with such a well perfect trail to run on.
The running trail round the reservoir is about 10km long. I normally start my run from Lornie Trail on the left of MacRitchie Reservoir Nature Park. There are two options here. If it is early and if the weather is not too hot, you may option for the more beautiful Champerai and Jering Trail along the reservoir. If you followed the Lornie Trail, it is mostly under forest shade so it is good if the sun is fierce. Most of my photoes were taken along the Champerai and Jering Trail and these are my preferred route. All of these trails will subsequently link to Golf link where the view is changed to a more open scenery with well paved road. Before it link to Sime Track, you may want to slow down because this is one of the most peaceful part of the route where you may observe thin fog flowing on the reservoir in early morning. There is a ranger office at the end of Sime Track where you can refill drinking water. From ranger office you may want to explore to HSBC canopy walk nearby.
After ranger office, you can continue the run to Terentang Trail and subsequently link to Mac Ritchie Nature Trail and back to where you start at MacRitchie Nature Park. There are some mild slopes here so it is a bit kind of chanllenge to run at this part of trail. Again, there is another option here where you can choose to continue your run on Petai Trail and Prunus Trail along the reservoir. It is longer compare to Mac Ritchie Nature Trail. However, it is more serene. I found the forest at Petai Trail and Prunus Trail are more primitive than other trails. The 3 tree photoes I posted below (Chewing Gum Tree, Chestnut Tree, tree with stilt roots) were all taken along Petai Trail and Prunus Trail.
The following map are taken from Singapore Biodiversity (An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development). The dark brown colour part is primary forest. Dark green area is old secoundary forest and light green area is young secoundary forest. There are not many primary forest in Singapore. The experience is really nice when you know you actually have a chance to run through a primary forest in a city country.
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The beauty of the Dillenia Reticulata lies in its conspicuos stilt roots. Although it does not stand on swampy ground in MacRitchie Reservoir park, the tree retains its adapted feature that enables it to support itself on soft ground. Their presence in dry areas may suggest that their seeds were dispersed and left to germinate in their current location.
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The Chestnut Tree – This majestic tree, one of the many species in Singapore forest that belongs to the Oak family, is closely related to the imported chestnuts sold in the market. Many are often surprised to discover that Chestnut and Oak trees are found right here in Singapore forest, as such tree are usually thought to be found only in temperate regioins.
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Chewing Gum Tree – The largest tress found growing in the nature reserve to date is probably Jelutong. With a girth of 6.2m, this forest giant, with its soaring columnar trunk, is an awesome sight to behold. Jelutong is a sun lover and a fast growing species. Its girth increase at an annual rate of nearly 5cm. The latex from the Jelutong was once popularly used for m!king chewing gum, making it once of the most valuable non-wood products in the region in early 1920s.
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It is common to encounter monkeys in the nature reserve.
Over the years, the reservoirs have become an integral part of every Singaporean life, serving not only as sources of water but also as venues for water sports (canoeing, rowing and etc) and recretion (fishing, jogging, tai-chi and etc).
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The MacRitchie Reservoir tracks are about 10km long. It is probably one of the best running trail in Singapore. Facilities like ranger office where you can refill the water half way through the run, a shower area at the end of the trail and a good cafe with their signature dish – Curry chicken with rice and others like nasi lemak, fried noodles and etc. To have a good breakfast after an exhausted run in the forest and with cold shower is definitely one of the best activities to be done in Singapore!
A tip from Rough GuidekSingapore –
If you happen to be in town on the second Sunday of the month, you can join the free nature appreciation walk that starts from the head of the Prunus Trail at 9:30am or 10:30am (Tel: 65545127 to pre-book at least 3 days before the walk).