The o2 arena will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year; it will also be 5 years since the structure was modified with a walkway now knows at Up at the O2. The giant walkway allows you to climb over the entire arena and enjoy spectacular views at the 52 metre high summit. The fabric walkway is 380 metres long and has a 30° incline at its steepest point.
I’ve been wanting to climb the O2 for a long time now, so I’m thrilled that I can finally cross it off my list! The climb was not as difficult as I had imagined and the views were spectacular. I came away feeling I’d done something pretty unique and had had a great time. The highlight is definitely reaching the summit and enjoying the view.
Climbing over the o2 is fun, unique and not as hard as it looks. This, coupled with a fantastic view, makes climbing the o2 one of London's top activities.
The location of the Up the O2 experience is extremely easy to find. Make your way to North Greenwich Station on the Jubilee Line, as you exit the station walk towards the O2 arena (it’s pretty big and you won’t miss it). Once you are near the main entrance to the areas take a left and you’ll see the ‘base camp’ of the Up the O2 experience.
You’ll also notice the large glass staircase leading to the start of the walkway, so you really can’t miss it.
Preparing for the walk
Once you find the base camp you show your tickets to a member of staff at reception and you are promptly led into a seated room with your fellow climbers. There can be up to 15 or so climbers at any one time-slot however group sizes can vary and there were only 3 other climbers with me.
You must fill out a form that signs away your life (you accept that the O2 isn’t to blame if you fall off and break am arm, don’t worry it’s never happened). You’re then introduced to your instructor who will be with you throughout the whole journey to assist with climbing. You will be shown a short introduction video and after 5 minutes or so you’re ready to get into your climbing gear!
While not particularly fashionable, the climbing gear is necessary and fairly comfortable. You’ll be given a jacket, climbing shoes and a harness.
Starting your climb
Your instructor will take you to the starting point of the climb and instruct you on how to use your harness. I won’t try and explain it here, but all you need to know is that it’s very easy. The climb is slip into 6 sections, 3 going up and 3 going down. The start of the climb is the most difficult as its the steepest at 30°. While it may look difficult, it’s actually not much harder than walking up a hill.
Can anyone climb the o2?
From what I’ve seen, yes! Up at the o2 are equipped to accept disabled guests and there were plenty of elderly people climbing in the group before mine. If you are wondering whether you have the capability to do this climb the answer is almost certainly yes. The only restriction is that there is a minimum age of 11 years old.
I quickly got used to the system of gears you use to pull yourself up the walkway and I was able to enjoy the view as I made my way up. You’ll notice that the walkway will bounce slightly as people walk across it, but this is completely normal so don’t panic!
As someone who is terrified of heights I was concerned that I really wouldn’t enjoy the experience, but I was pleasantly surprised! Even as I walked up the relatively thin walkway I didn’t once feel apprehensive.
Reaching the summit
It will only take you about 20 minutes to reach the summit of the O2. Your instructor will likely take the time to point out some monuments and visible landmarks. A shout out to my instructor, who’s name unfortunately I have completely forgot, but he seemed very knowledgeable helpful and cheerful during the whole experience.
You are let loose on the viewing platform for around 20 minutes, during which time you are unattached from your harness and free to walk around and enjoy the multiple views.
I was actually very surprised at how great the view is from the top of the O2. I’ve been to most of London’s best viewing points, including the top of The Shard and the Walkie Talkie, yet I found the view from the O2 to rival them. The summit is only 52 metres high, so technically you can’t see as much as you would from those highest viewing points, however the fact that you are outside and that you got there by climbing a giant monument makes it that much sweeter.
I was lucky enough to visit on a clear and sunny day (even if it was a bit chilly), which certainly made the view particularly beautiful. You can see all of east London, including the dramatic skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, and well beyond.
This place is selfie heaven and you are encouraged to bring your phone, however you can only use it at the summit and you won’t be able to bring any other cameras with you.
What goes up, must come down. After 20 minutes you’ll be gathered together at the start of the decent and hooked back onto the cable. I actually found the decent more difficult than getting up! Gravity will be fulling you down after than you want to go, but thanks to the grip on your shoes and the bounciness of the walkway, you’re in no danger of falling.
It should only take around 10 minutes to get back down, after which point you can collect your things (which have been brought over from the starting point) and browse the customary gift shop. In total the experience takes between 60-90 minutes depending on how many people are with you and how fast everyone climbs!
I’m always on the lookout for unique things to do in London and I think this certainly qualifies. At a cost of £25 per person this certainly isn’t a cheap day out, but still something I’d definitely recommend doing none the less. You do get a sense of accomplishment having climbed to the top of a world famous landmark and the view is one of the best I’ve seen.
London Writer and Blogger. Featured in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times.