Aug 31, 2020

All You Need to Know about Exploring the forgotten Keppel Hill Reservoir

Ever since it was re-discovered in 2014, I have been wanting to explore Keppel Hill Reservoir, othewise known as the 'abandoned reservoir' or 'forgotten reservoir'. And I finally got to do it with my family over the weekend!

Nestled at the slopes of Mount Faber, the former reservoir was believed to have started operating as early as 1905 and served the water needs of the Tanjong Pagar Docks nearby. Subsequently, it became a place for swimming and even was a private swimming pool at one point. But by the 1950s, it vanished from the maps and its location was not officially marked for 60 years.

Now, it is regarded as one of the best kept secrets in Singapore as the area is totally unspoilt and getting there takes a bit of trekking through vegetation (and muddy tracks), in order to get to this piece of hidden sanctuary.

To get to Keppel Hill Reservoir, there are 2 routes to take - one is straightforward and more suited for families with kids while the other is a much more challenging one with a very steep slope to climb.

Guess which one I chose? 😅

Yes, the more challenging route it is!

The starting point is at the Seah Im open-air carpark. Head to tjhe top-most left corner of the carpark and you will see a sign with the description of the Heritage Tree (photo above). Go past the green fence, and follow the man-made trail on the ground.

The first check-point you see after less than a minute of walking is this forgotten bunker.

Little information is known of the bunker though. It was probably either used to imprison Prisoners-Of-War (POWs) or as a storage place for war equipment during WWII. Subsequently, it was disused and forgotten by time.

But what will not be easily forgotten is the steep ascent that must overcome in order to reach the reservoir.

From the photo, it may not seem that steep a climb but trust me when I say getting up is tough... as the ground is pretty soft, made even muddier by the rainfall on the previous day. So getting a good grip on the soil was a real challenge and to be honest, we wanted to give up and turn around.

But the boys wanted to overcome it, and so we did... by helping one another, one step at a time. Even though we ended up with muddy hands, legs, clothes and shoes, the experience was well worth it!

Just a note of caution, I would not recommend taking this route if you have young kids. The danger of slipping and tumbling down the slope is real so please only take on this challenge if you hae older kids, preferably 9 years and up.

Back on level ground, we continued with our jungle bashing.

The route is well-marked with a man-made trail so we simply followed it and soon, we saw the light!

Back to the tarmac, albeit only for a short while.

But this is also the point where the stragihtforward route and challenging one intersect. Which brings me to my next point...


The adventure begins at Wishart Road. If you are driving, travel along West Coast Highway towards HarbourFront Centre and it will be on your left. If you are taking public transport, search for Bus Stop Code '14139' to see the buses that stop there.

Travel down to the end and it will lead you to Keppel Hill Road.

If you plan on re-fueling after the trek, there is a cafe named Fuel Plus and a prata shop called Lakshmi Vilas located there. To begin your exploration, just look for the road sign 'Keppel Hill'.

Follow the road and walk right in.

You will then come across a barrier, which I believe was erected to discourage indiscrimate parking. Other than the barrier, there are no signs that mention that the area is private property or a protected place. So just hop over it, and continue with your way. 😁

After a short walk, you will see a forked road with two paths.

The right path leads to the No.11 Keppel Hill House which is gated by the way but you can still sneak a glance at how big and grand the house is from the gate.

To get to Keppel Hill Reservoir, take the left path which leads you down a concrete road.

As you reach the bottom of the short slope, you will see a muddy trail.

And this was where the fun began for us! LOL.

Let me say if you are planning to head down, be prepared to return with muddied shoes - and bring along a change of shoes (or slippers) if you wish.

Again, I believe having the chance to squish through a muddy trail is really a priceless experience and thankfully, it was something that the monkies embraced too. (Not that they had a choice 🤣)

We then reached another forked path and this time, take the one on the RIGHT.

I have no idea where the left path leads to so if you know, please let me know.

We then continued to follow the man-made trail, where the final 'landmark' before reaching the reservoir is this concrete beam over a small stream.

The beam is pretty wide and extremely stable so no dangers as long as one keeps to the centre.

Once across, we took a few more steps before we hit jackpot.

What beauty.

Throughout the area, one can see the remnants of the reservoir's past uses, like this flight of steps leading down to the reservoir. (PLEASE DO NOT GO DOWN)

There are also a flight of steps and metal bars that protrude outwards from the ground - evidence of the presence of a diving board back in the days when the reservoir was used as a swimming pool.

Other than that, there isn't really much to do at the reservoir except to just admire the tranquilty of the place.

And of course, taking photos because Instagram or it didn't happen, no? 😜

After trekking a little around the reservoir where we wanted to search for the nearby solitary Japanese tomb, we got hungry so we decided to call it off and head back to civilisation.

And for our efforts to locate the reservoir, we had muddy shoes to bring home with us.

Those, and also lots of precious memories of trekking through the jungle, trodding on muddy trails, scaling steep, slippery & muddy slopes and exploring a rare part of Singapore togheter as a family.

In fact, the boys LOVED it so much that they declared our Kepple Hill Reservoir exploration to be far more interesting and exciting than our usual walk-in-the-parks!

If you are planning to bring your kids to explore, here are a few things to take note of:

- The entire trek from the beginning of Keppel Hill Road to Keppel Hill Reservoir is relatively short; about 15 to 20 minutes max.

- I don't recommend bringing toddlers or even young kids aged 8 and below. This is because slippery and muddy trails aside, there are no barriers at the reservoir so it can get dangerous for kids, especially if they get too close and the ground may be slippery.

- We didn't have an issue with mosquitoes while we were there. But we did apply mosquio repellent before entering the forested area.

- As mentioned, take along an extra pair of footwear if you do not want to be in your muddied shoes while heading home.

- Lastly, have fun and enjoy your time in the surrounds of nature!

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Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

Cheekiemonkies said...

Welcome! :)

David said...

Thanks for the sharing.
We went today.

Rrom the Right side of Reservoir, there is a small trail that can lead up to peak of Mt Faber. Its ~10mins hike.

Best Rgds

PB said...

Thanks for sharing. May I know how to get to the tomb from the reservoir. I went today n used the path to Mt Faber but did not see the tomb. Thanks

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