- Environment & Infrastructure
- Strategic consulting
- Specialist consulting
- The Living City
- Happold Consulting
I’m not going over the top, I really don’t like heights. So when I agreed to climb London’s latest and most adventurous visitor attraction, Up at The O2, it was with a little bit of trepidation. I’ve ‘done’ the Sydney Harbour Bridge, got the (horrendous) photo to prove it so how bad could it be…
Probably going to the O2 during the Olympics, (it doubled as the North Greenwich Arena for gymnastics), wasn’t the best idea but despite the crowds, getting in went smoothly. And how nice was everyone? Well just totally! The London 2012 Games Makers really were as lovely and smiley as everyone says – hurrah for the big society. And there it was; my Mount Everest, Kilimanjaro, the north face of the Eiger, looming long and blue in front of me. Just keep thinking the Dome’s a giant bouncy castle or the Stay Puft man from Ghostbusters – how bad can that be?
Don’t panic, keep calm and carry on. First it’s the safety briefing and after signing my life away the tension’s mounting. They do things properly at Up at The O2, so my fellow thrill seekers and I were kitted out in full-on harnesses and lovely blue overalls; does my bum look big in this? Oh yes, there’s certainly going to be a total eclipse when I get to the top!
Onwards and upwards; assigned to our very own Sherpa Tenzing (Tom) we start our ascent. And the wow factor kicks in pretty quick; it’s a short sharp climb to get you high above the ground with an incredible vista of many of London’s best loved landmarks stretching away before you.
A short break to catch your breath and your senses and we continue onwards and upwards 53m above the ground to the excellent purpose-built viewing platform with 360° views of the capital’s finest sights. And wow – London’s best unfold before us; the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, the Excel Arena, the Emirates Air Line, Canary Wharf, the Cutty Sark – why squint and you can almost see Buckingham Palace – the city spreads out before you – a miniature cornucopia of some of the world’s well known and best loved landmarks.
We congratulate ourselves on reaching the summit; nerves of steel and a sense of overwhelming achievement coursing through us. But all too soon the landmark spotting comes to an end and we must make our descent, the thin blue line dropping away in front of us, at an alarming rate! Hitchcock and his masterpiece Vertigo suddenly comes to mind… Deep breath, take the plunge! Inclusive access is a key design of Up at The O2 and those wheelchair users brave enough to take on the climb have my utmost respect; setting off ground wards in one of the climb’s specially adapted wheelchairs will take true grit.
Climbing downwards the silent flowing Thames comes ever closer, and the ground and safety too. Suddenly we are there, the adventure over, terra firma beneath our feet, brave explorers in to the blue beyond no more. Jelly legged I’ve made it; it feels quite strange to stand on a solid surface once more, having bounced my way across the heavens. Elated we de-harness and swap notes.
What a fab way to spend 90 minutes; I’ll be back and I’m dragging everyone I know with me – you have been warned!
Categories: On Top Of The World