Wanna explore an abandoned (and possibly even haunted) place? Make a date with Keppel Hill Reservoir...
We’ve been exploring Singapore’s best parks and hiking trails for a while now, but we’re on the hunt for something a little more under the radar. And we found just the spot. Dubbed ‘the forgotten reservoir’, Keppel Hill Reservoir disappeared from modern maps (don’t ask us why) until it was rediscovered a couple of years ago. This colonial-era reservoir was formerly a source of water for the Tanjong Pagar dockyard before being used as a swimming pool in 1938.
Our adventurous souls craved an unconventional trekking experience. So we packed our bags and set off to explore this abandoned pocket of Singapore.
Our adventure at Keppel Hill Reservoir
1. Getting to the fork in the road
Want in on this adventure? To get there, you’ll have to head to Keppel Hill Road. You can get there by taking a bus from HarbourFront Bus Interchange and walking in (turn into the road from the church) or by driving (key Wishart Road into your GPS).
Keep a lookout for the Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church and you’ll know you’re at the right place. You’ll find yourself on a path that forks into two roads, with the main road sloping upwards to the No. 11 Keppel House, and the other leading in the general direction of the reservoir.
2. A brief detour to No. 11 Keppel House
We got a tad distracted and headed up to take a peek past the rusty gates. After wondering if the house was still inhabited (probably not) and debating if we could jump the fence (we couldn’t), we took the other road to continue our mission to locate the ‘missing’ reservoir.
3. Off to discover the reservoir
We ventured onto this path that took us first to a blue dumpster. (No, it doesn’t smell, it’s just filled with dead leaves.) Heads up: don’t be misled by the dirt trail beside the dumpster snaking into the bushes; you’re headed in the other direction. There’s a less obvious, man-made trail leading into the tall grass and banana trees, which will take you to the highlight of this trip…
4. Into a whole new world
Just keep going until you’ve Narnia-ed yourself into this little enclave. Paranormal hunters have sought this place out, but we wouldn’t say it’s a particularly creepy location – not in the afternoon, at least. Still, you can attempt to give your friends a scare by reminding them of the drowning incidents that occurred in this body of water. (Two soldiers and a boy drowned in 1936 and 1948 respectively.)
5. The glimmering Keppel Hill Reservoir
To the right is where the diving board used to be. The remaining steps and the metal hinges that used to hold it make for a pretty poignant scene. Walk past the diving board (and a path of loosely placed concrete slabs – be careful out there!) and you’ll come to a small flight of stairs. Climb a little way up and you’ll find that fallen trees make the path un-walkable for most. There’s a small opening that only a child could wiggle through. Not a good idea.
On the opposite end of the bank, there’s a forested area bordering the left of the reservoir. Look amongst the dead leaves and you might spot a rusty old sign. It reads ‘danger’ and advises against a swim in the water. (We figured that much.)
If you’re venturing past the faded Mount Faber sign (hanging from one of the trees) and into the undergrowth, watch your step! We wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re an experienced trekker and equipped with pretty good balancing skills – there’s not much to hold onto. Most of the shoots there can’t hold a person’s weight.
To satisfy your curiosity, there’s more greenery within, along with some rusty old cans. We reckon this was a chill-out place of sorts where former residents used to hang out.
6. Get your cameras out
Having explored (or at least attempted to) both banks, we went back down to the main bank area for some photo-taking action. Because Instagram or it didn’t happen, right? Photo op suggestions: pose on the steps leading to the missing diving board, or along the stairs leading to the water.
We found another photo-worthy location that might be unbeknownst to those who’ve been here before: an open field of tall grass, located a little further in after walking past the reservoir (go straight into the bushes from the main bank).
7. Tips and things to take note of
Feeling the hunger pangs? There’s a small coffee shop nearby named Lakshmi Vilas for a quick bite. Or grab something from Cheers at the Esso station right by the main road (you’ll see it before you turn into Wishart Road). As for the nearest public toilets, there’s one at the aforementioned petrol station, and we recommend dropping by before your hike. Don’t forget your trusty insect repellent, too!
Would you go trekking at Keppel Hill Reservoir?
Despite being an abandoned reservoir, locating it isn’t an impossible task, especially with directions. This is no MacRitchie though. Being one-third the size of an Olympic pool, the area isn’t as extensive as many of the other commonly known reservoirs or hiking trails in Singapore.
What we enjoyed most? Taking in the unusual view of abandoned waters and greenery with no one else around.
[This guide was first published on 22 August 2019.]