Up and Away at the O2

Living so close to the O2, or the Millennium Dome as it used to be known, climbing it was something I just had to do when they started running the activity.  I often go to the O2 for a night out and Alex always comments on how much he loves the view of London from here so I thought the climb would be a great idea as a birthday present for him.

As we made our way towards the giant white dome, knowing that we would be climbing all the way over it rather than just going straight inside for a show or meal as we usually do, it suddenly seemed like a whole new building.  It towered over us with its steep curved sides and the whole idea started to seem slightly crazy!

Not ones to chicken out though, we signed in and, after watching a cheesy safety video, the excitement began to set in as we got suited up in our very sexy bright blue jump suits.  They do keep you warm though so just go with it!

See, very sexy ;)

See, very sexy 😉

I’d strongly recommend wearing some decent hiking shoes or boots as the climb is pretty steep and you need something with a good grip.  If you don’t have any of your own you can borrow some boots there but I didn’t really fancy putting my feet into smelly shoes that other people had used, so made sure I took my own!

Being winter there were only 4 of us doing the climb but this made the experience better as we could take our time and we got to chat with our guide a bit more than we would have done in the usual group size of 15.  Be warned, in the cold weather it is absolutely freezing!  The top of the O2 is completely open and you have a full 360 degree view out over London, and being right next to the Thames, it gets very windy and cold at the top.  This is where the jump suit came in handy and a hat and gloves were also a must in winter!

We both found the climb up very easy – the first section was the steepest and once we were over that it was just like walking up a hill.  We’re both quite fit, in our 20s and have done a fair bit of hiking before so those who are older or not quite as fit might struggle a little but, honestly, it’s perfectly doable.  We were harnessed up so couldn’t fall anywhere (the walkway was bouncy so I kept imagining falling off and sliding/bouncing all the way down like I was on a big bouncy castle slide!) and we held onto the rope along the side for extra support.  Once we made it to the top (and had breathed a sigh of relief) we took our harnesses off and had a wander around looking at all the sights.  Our guide pointed out sights including Canary Wharf, Greenwich Park, the Shard and locations from James Bond movies.

Walking around the platform at the top of the O2

Walking around the platform at the top of the O2

Another bonus to the jump suit (as well as being deadly sexy of course) is that it has a little pocket you can fit a camera into (iPhones or small cameras are fine) which means you can snap away to your heart’s content up there and get loads of lovely pics of the views.  I’d booked a climb that would get us up there for sunset and, go me, I managed to time it perfectly!  We got to see the view both in the light and dark and got some great sunset photos from the top.

Then it was time for the climb down and, if you don’t like heights, you may struggle a bit here.  At points the walkway looked like it just dropped off the end it was so steep and I did hesitate a couple of times, thinking I was walking to the end of the plank on a giant white dome-shaped pirate ship.

The walkway looking like it just drops off at the end

The walkway looking like it just drops off at the end

The good thing about being in a small group is that we could take our time and, despite Alex whizzing off way ahead in front of me, I still wasn’t the slowest by a long shot but the guide always stayed with us so you can take as long as you need.  I did think it was very steep and the bouncy surface didn’t really help – I clung onto the rope pretty hard as I felt like I was going to slip the whole time – this is where the good grip on your shoes comes in handy!  Don’t let this put you off though as we were told that 80 and 90 year olds had done the climb so it can be done and is totally worth it!

If you’re in London and take a trip to the O2 or just fancy doing something a bit different, this is definitely something to check out.  I’d love to do the climb again in the summer when the weather’s warmer and the sunset will be even nicer.  Doing this was one of those things that made me realise what a fantastic city London really is.

5 thoughts on “Up and Away at the O2

    • Ayla says:

      It’s not that high – nowhere near the likes of Sydney Harbour Bridge – but it is very steep coming down so if you don’t like heights it’s probably not ideal.

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