Not for the frail, the weak, the infirm or the couch potato, the climb – and it is a climb – over the top of the O2 Dome is something to add to the list of things to do in London even if you’re a Londoner. Hell, especially if you’re a Londoner!
If you’re lucky, you’ll have the lovely Sofia as your guide. All the guides have climbing experience – and not just in and out of the bath. The slightly annoying intro safety briefing is the only limp part of the whole experience. But of course, that’s for the tourists, not us! It frankly goes Up from there.
You get issued with a nice blue climbing suit – if the weather is in any way clement, take off a few layers before you put it on – and some hiking boots. Oh, and a full body harness. And a damn great bit of metal which you get taught to clip on to the harness and the safety cable while you climb. The health and safety numpties must have been all over this like a rash.
And then its out the door and up some steps to a platform where you practice clipping yourself on and off the safety wire.
And then you’re off. And it really is a climb. The gloves you get issued with really come into their own for pulling on the guide cable. And its up and up and up! The view of London, back towards the Greenwich Naval College and well beyond, gets more dramatic with every step.
Eventually, you reach a viewing platform perched above the top of the O2 Dome. Here you unclip your safety harness and marvel in the clear demonstration below you that no grown up has ever really taken a long term overview of planning anything in London since the Great Fire. But hey – its spectacular.
Here’s the lovely Sofia and a couple of climbers:
The new Emirates airline (pods on wires) whizz over the Thames with the Thames Barrier clearly visible. In this picture, they’re trapped in North Greenwich Station.
I’m not sure what they teach kids in Geography these days but a guy who had just taken his GCSE in geography – the Olympic area a specialist subject – couldn’t understand why the barrier would control the water. We took a picture for you guys to tell him.
Canary Wharf’s tower blocks loom above the river, failing to contain the avarice of their occupants, while Amish Kapoor’s creation, red and sentinel outside the Olympic Village, appears to droop from heat exhaustion in the distance, like a Guardsman fainting before the Queen.
OK, so there’s lots of things worth doing in this town, tourist or not. Now there’s something else to add, right at the top of the list.