You don’t have to leave London to summit an iconic climb. Whilst the city is lacking in mountains, you can satisfy your urge for adventure as an urban mountaineer at Up at the O2.
Simply Health invited me to get active and explore London with a walk across the iconic arena, whilst tracking my steps with a Fitbit Flex.
The experience starts at ground level with a safety video and health questionnaire, before getting kitted out in a jumpsuit, safety harness and walking boots. The suits were absolutely huge with the crotch around my knees!
As a group we were led up a staircase to the beginning of the platform and connected into the safety guideline. The constant connection to the central railing means that there is no chance of slipping and falling off the walkway. There are several ‘gates’ along the way which you have to manoeuvre your safety catch through- I found this quite tricky especially with cold hands! Strong winds were blasting from all angles throughout our ascent especially towards the top of the dome.
The walkway made from a tensile fabric is suspended 2m above the roof of the arena and is 380m long. It was very tempting to bounce on the trampoline-like surface, although we had been warned not to. I was surprised at how steep the first section of walkway was, I could definitely feel it in my calves walking up at such a gradient. The surface is also ridged to provide some grip underfoot and stop you slipping in wet weather.
Reaching the viewing platform 52 metres above the ground, we detached our safety lines and explored the summit. We could see landmarks across the city including the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, the Thames Barrier, Canary Wharf and City Hall. In fact, we could almost see all the way home to Hornchurch in Essex. The railings around the perimeter of the platform feature information about the history of London and the sights in our eyeline.
After plenty of photo opportunities, it was time to descend back to the ground. The gradient is even steeper on the return journey, it feels as through you might fall forward and knock the other climbers down domino-style! I wondered what it would be like to cycle over the walkway- that would certainly be an exhilarating ride!
The climb itself takes around an hour, it’s possible to do it much quicker but you are encouraged to take your time as a group. It’s suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and whilst it’s not quite on par with scaling Everest, it is definitely an experience worth doing. According to my Fitbit, I took around 1500 steps during the climb. There was actually a medal for sale in the gift shop to commemorate the challenge, I must admit I was tempted to add it to my collection!
We climbed at 5.30pm, although in hindsight it actually would have fantastic to go slightly later and experience London at sunset.
Simply Health provided me with the Up at the O2 experience and Fitbit tracker, but all opinions are my own.
Have you climbed the O2? Do you have any other interesting ways to stay active in the city?