If the start of this new week already has you looking for something new to do to excite and entertain you at the weekend then today's post may well be for you.
Last week I was kindly offered the opportunity* to clamber into some climbing gear and make my way up to the top of the O2 Arena in Greenwich to experience the climb and take in the sights and sounds of the city from the 360 view that the viewing platform allows. If this tickles your fancy, is currently on your to do list or if you are looking for a little summer adventure in the city then here are some photos and details of what to expect when you embark on a trip 'Up At The O2!'
I'd been aware of the option to climb to the top of this world famous arena for a little while now and it was firmly on the to do list but was one of those things that I just kept forgetting to get around to. Having been I'd definitely say that it's well worth the effort. It isn't too testing, although your calves might initially tell you otherwise, and is a unique way to absorb some of the sights of a side of London that you may not otherwise get a glimpse of.
Now maybe I don't pay enough attention to these sorts of things but I never realised that the Dome itself is 365 metres in circumference, a metre for each day of the year. It has 12 towers protruding from the top of the circus-like canopy, one for each month of the year and the centre point of the construction is 52 metres above ground level - yes you guessed it, a metre for each week of the year. This unique structure, that was only ever meant to be temporary but is fast becoming one of our best loved landmarks, is quite a fascinating build and is happily becoming part of the furniture on the landscape of London. Just don't ask anyone what's going to happen when the giant 'temporary' canopy finally needs replacing!
When making the climb to the top you are given a full briefing and helped into some pretty fabulous climbing gear! The necessary harness, relevant clothing (depending on the weather) and some proper climbing shoes to ensure you don't slip on the fabric-like surface as you make your way up and back down from the viewing platform.
You can take a small camera and your phone up with you, zipped into the pockets on the suit you're given. You can't take photographs until you safely reach the top. Although you'll probably be concentrating on negotiating your ascent and descent safely anyway, plus if you drop anything then that's pretty much a very bouncy bye bye to your beloved items!
We took our climb at around 6pm which I think was a great time to catch both a glimpse of the setting sun on one side of the city combined with the bright blue skies on the other.
You make your way to the top via a specially designed walkway that feels pretty much like a giant trampoline - hence the previous bouncy reference. Clipped onto the steel cable system, the beginning of the ascent is fairly steep but evens out pretty quickly. So if your calves start to burn in anticipation of a hefty climb don't panic the pain will ease pretty fast! I think the first few minutes were a bit tougher than expected but after negotiating the first stretch of walkway it all got a lot simpler and much more comfortable.
After a brief climb you reach the top and the central viewing platform at which point you can unclip and freely wander around taking in the sights below and snap happily away around the stunning 360 view. Our guide Cecily was fantastic and pointed out all of the interesting points of the vista around us - as well as having a great nose for the various enticing food smells winging upwards from the array of restaurants in the arena below us! She explained that the climb can take place in all kinds of weather, come rain, shine or snow and is suitable for all ages and experiences.
As the group behind us made their way onto the platform it was time for us to make our way down. This was probably my least favourite part! The last stretch of walkway going down seemed very steep to my eyes - but what goes up must come down and after the initial uncertainty I made my way down to firm ground again without any mishap or concern so needn't have worried. As our guide explained, even if you were to slip over and slide down you would still be perfectly fine thanks to the safety of the cable system. Plus the specialist climbing shoes that you're provided with do the job when it comes to supporting your grip and keeping you upright.
The entire experience took around 90 minutes and was great fun. Taking the climbing challenge and seeing the sights provided a good bit of exercise, adding nicely to my step count for that day! If you're thinking of giving it a go I'd certainly recommend it, you'll be glad you did and will I'm sure enjoy soaking up a little bit of the city from such a unique location.
Have you conquered the summit of London up at the O2 or is this something you think you'd like to try? Let me know what you think. Or if you have any other adventurous suggestions that I should try in the city I'd love to know. Always one for trying something new!
For more information and to book your climb check out the website: Up At The O2
Happy Monday and see you soon.
*My climb was complimentary as part of being invited along to review. My opinions are however 100% honest and completely my own. If I hadn't enjoyed it I wouldn't be sharing it here today.