Climbing Mt Halla


Another day, another volcanic crater. This time it’s the big one, Mt Halla, 1950m tall and the highest point in South Korea. It’s a four-hour hike to the top and another four hours down. No map is necessary, even if you could get a decent one, as there’s no way of losing the trail which is mostly roped, largely man-managed, and has plenty of wooden walkways to ease the way. Even so, it’s a long and tiring day.


There were plenty of other hikers – including some nuns who made it to the top at the same time as we did. A few hikers exchanged some words of English (“Where are you from?”, “Premier League, Manchester United, Ji-Sung Park”), and we were offered food at regular intervals. At a stop half way up, a lady gave us two tangerines. At the next stop, another lady gave us two more, and moments later we were given two small chocolates. On the way down, let another lady offered us slices of Chinese pear. When we met her again later, she gave us some sweets made from rice. It’s amazing – the kindness of strangers.

The scenery on the way down was a treat – steep cliffs, deep valleys, tree-covered hillsides, early Autumn colours.


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