It’s surprisingly springy on the roof of the O2. You have to resist the urge to go boing boing boing as you reach the summit of London’s former Millennium Dome.
‘Do not bounce!’ Our instructor had issued a stern warning before the climb, ‘You’ll make it really wobbly for all those coming after you!’
When I told my little ones that Babes about Town had been invited* to go Up at the O2, and that it involved scaling the roof of the building, their eyes grew round.
‘We will be very afraid, Mummy,’ they said in small voices. So much for those Spiderman outfits! I assured them the climb is geared towards adults and kids ages 10 and over and you have to be at least 1.2 metres high. You also need to be physically and medically fit, less than 21 stone, and as TLC might have sung, ‘unpregnant’.
Up at the O2 is a London attraction that opened in 2012 and has had more than visitors making the sometimes steep, occasionally strenuous ascent (and surprisingly challenging descent).
When my friend Jo and I arrived at the Up at the O2 entrance, we were pleased to see there was some kind of walkway and that we wouldn’t have to go up on our hands and knees and abseil down!
We were also relieved not to have to wear the bulky climb suits as it was a mild evening, and our group could get away with climb vests that included pockets for mobile phones.
After signing your life away on waiver forms and watching a mildly ridiculous safety video, you’re led through by the chatty instructor to the locker room. Here you’re given lockers to stow your stuff, ECCO climbing shoes for added grip, and you’re advised to use the toilets as, obviously, there are no loos on the top of the O2!
We got buckled into our safety harnesses and a heavy climb latch that attached to the cable travelling the length of the walkway – essentially the only gear securing us from a near 52 metre plunge.
Whenever I try anything slightly dangerous, there’s a distinctly Nigerian voice in my head saying things like ‘See your head like O2! Who begged you to be climbing roof?’ and imagining the disdain I’d receive from family and peers if anything went wrong. Luckily I felt perfectly safe throughout the activity.
Within 10 minutes of the climb, I was already breaking a slight sweat and could feel my thigh muscles working. It’s a bit stop and start, as the climb latch is tricky to manoeuvre at points. But as the roof curves, the climb gets more comfy and you can take in the gorgeous sights, sparkling Thames, city buzzing below.
We went on a Sunset Expedition and London looked absolutely stunning from the top of the O2, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the capital. You get about 20 minutes to take in the sights, look for major landmarks, and pose for photos before making the climb down to the other side.
The entire trip lasts around 90 minutes and it’s an exhilarating experience. Definitely one for your London bucket list and a great event to add to your half-term activity planner for older kids.
Afterwards we went to nearby Brooklyn Bowl for an evening* of bowling and delicious platters of ribs, sliders, fried chicken and pizza, yummy brownies and ice cream and gigantic banana splits. The main attraction was a live music show by Take Me to the River, a supergroup composed of members of famous ‘70s bands playing a blend of soul, funk, rhythm & blues and covers.
The crowd was mostly die-hard fans and the atmosphere was electric. After seeing big acts on huge stages at various festivals over the summer, it’s easy to forget how thrilling live music can be in an intimate space. Some major names have featured at Brooklyn Bown and it’s a cool spot for a Dates with Dads night out, or somewhere to bring the whole family along to some day.
Visit Up at the O2 to book your own adventure!
*complimentary review experience