The rubbery material underfoot causes us to bounce gently on the walkway as we navigate the steep 30 degree climb ahead. The wind blasts across our faces and the rain whips our bodies causing both hands and ears to go numb with cold. It feels as if we have been caught in a storm, at risk of being blown away into the night.
However, we are securely fastened to a central fence on the walkway, via a cable and body harness with a guide watching our every move, so it is completely safe.
Climbing the O2 Arena in North Greenwich is relatively new attraction to London, which first opened in June. Perhaps a summer booking would have been more relaxing but tickets for peak climbs on the weekends are sold out months in advance. However, the autumn weather makes it an adventure! The blue flexible walkway leads from ground level directly over the top of the centre of the dome 52 metres above the ground, where there is a 360 degree viewing platform, and down the other side. From here you can view the sights of east London from the skyscrapers of the docklands to city airport, the Olympic Park and Thames estuary stretching beyond. By climbing in the early evening you can experience the stylish ambience of the city with the bright city lights contrasting with the dark sky overhead and the dark shadowy silhouettes of the buildings in the distant. Occassionally planes fly low overhead on their approaches to the airport and together these are a sight to behold.
Up at the O2 offers a unique picture of a rapidly developing and often ignored part of the city. From here you can see that East London has more to offer than just the trendy bars of Shoreditch