A few weeks ago I thought it would be clever to book tickets for Up at the O2. It didn't occur to me that being scared of heights it might be a bad idea. Or that I'm physical activity-averse and it might require some hefty physical input. Nope. I ploughed straight in, roped in my friend Kim (a fellow Wharf-dweller) and booked us up for the 8pm slot last Wednesday. People asked us why. We said "why not?"
It wasn't until the day before when we got a reminder email that we also asked ourselves "uh, why are we doing this?"
It turned out we needn't have worried! We turned up at Base Camp at the required 15 minutes before departure and were issued with clipboards, pens, "if you fall off you can't sue us" forms to sign and the obligatory information about filming and photography so as to flog it to you at the end. Our guide came in introduced himself, talked us through the forms and the whereabouts of the loos, cracked a few jokes about being scared of heights and falling off and then hit play on their safety instruction video which was a tongue-in-cheek take on a video diary from an arctic explorer at Everest Base Camp. This made me feel much, much better. If they weren't taking it too seriously then I shouldn’t be too worried about the heights and safety.
After the safety video we were furnished with jumpsuits (with inbuilt camera and phone pockets), harnesses, caribiners and a locker for our belongings. Everyone swiftly put it all on. And then swiftly took it all back off again when the instructor told us to start again and showing everyone individually how to don the harness properly. Ah, so they ARE paying attention to safety after all!
We then lined up and had a quick demonstration about how to lock on and off of the safety wire with our harness and how to move the clip correctly and then we were off!
The start is incredibly steep and requires a bit of effort to get up it and then it levels off slightly and is actually quite fun.
We took it slow as there was a big group and we had to travel at the same pace (even though Kim and I were leading the group - err, obvs!) so there was a lot of time to take in the view and the surroundings.
The walkway itself is bouncy and deliberately so, to replicate how the material of the O2 canopy might feel. Clever! We got told off for bouncing on it. Not clever. We also earned some other clever little factlets we were told we're about the construction. As it was originally created for the millennium it's a tribute to time: there are twelve posts that hold the canopy aloft to replicate the twelve numbers on a clock, the circumference is exactly 365 metres to represent the days of the year and the highest point of the dome is 52 metres to represent the weeks of the year. And we all thought it was just a big tent!
On reaching the "summit" or the viewing platform, you are disconnected from the safety wire and free to wander. At this point Kim and I noticed that everyone else was in a couple or on a date. Who'd have thought the top of the O2 was a place for romance?
|on the hoome straight...|
I suppose the lovely views over part of the city and across the river to Canary Wharf in all it's luminescent glory (including the nightly light show on the Pan Peninsula buildings) is a great setting for a romantic stroll! We could also see the Orbit structure over in the Olympic park glowing red and firey in the distance. I'd like to head back during daylight or at sunset to catch a different perspective of the city.
After a little while at the top, and a few photos (I forgot my camera so my iPhone pics are all I have unfortunately, so please excuse the quality) and we were locked back on to the wire and ready to begin our steep descent.
On reaching the end our lockers had magically arrived so we disrobed, handed back our equipment, visited the gift shop (obvs) to check out our videos (I looked ridiculous, and so didn't purchase), said our goodbyes to our guide Gary (he was a bit of a dude!) and we were on our way home to bed!
From start to finish I think the whole experience took less than two hours, was really well organised and was very reasonably priced. For more information and to book please click here.
If you're looking for something fun, different or, apparently , romantic to do this autumn I would definitely recommend it.