Tomorrow will see a new icon on the London skyline, open its doors to the public for the first time. The View from the Shard – the visitor attraction at the tallest building in western Europe – will offer visitors a whole new perspective on the capital.
England has quite a history of thinking big. In celebration of all things great and not so small, Visit England looks up at some of the nation’s tallest attractions that are putting this country on top of the world.
The Shard, London (224m tall)
The View from the Shard takes visitors up 224 meters to the viewing platform on Level 69, the only place you can see all of London, all at once. Twice the height of any other viewing platform in the capital, the 360-degree view extends more than 40 miles (64 km) out to the coast and Windsor Castle on a clear day. Closer to the building is some of London’s most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and Westminster. Before entering lifts to ascend the Shard, visitors pass through a multi-media experience that gives background information on London’s history. Once upon Level 69, visitors can use Tell: scopes to learn more about the city. This high-tech, interactive telescopes can be used to zoom in on the view in real time or to find out more about the city and its history. Those who dare can further their experience with a climb to Level 72, the highest habitable point of The Shard, to stand in the open air above ground. Tickets must be pre-booked cost £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children. To book, visit www.theviewfromtheshard.com
Arcelor Mittal Orbit, Olympic Park, London (115m tall)
130,000 visitors, three proposals, and one queen… Rising over the Olympic site, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a bold statement of public art, presented a new perspective on London life during the Games. Literally lighting up London’s East End the UK’s tallest sculpture took 18 months to construct and required 560 meters of tubular red steel to form the sculpture’s lattice superstructure. A total of 2,000 tonnes of steel has been used to build the ArcelorMittal Orbit, equivalent to the weight of 1,136 London black cabs. Anish Kapoor’s creation will open again to the public at the end of March as part of a new programme of tours designed to showcase the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. For more information, visit www.arcelormittalorbit.com
Scafell Pike, Lake District (978m tall)
Did you know that this country has over 200 mountains? Of all the peaks of England, the majority can be found in the Lake District. These include Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, which sits majestically just waiting to be tackled and once described as “every inch a mountain” by legendary guidebook author Alfred Wainwright Characterised by crags and jaw-dropping views, Scafell Pike is no walk in the park. Pack a picnic and climb to the summit for an exhilarating sense of achievement. If you’re considering the challenge, visiting www.scafellpike.org.uk is the best place to start. After all that hard work why not relax at the Cuckoo Brow Inn, Ambleside. Enjoy a two-night winter getaway for £119 per person, Dinner, Bed, and Breakfast (offer valid until the end of February).
Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth (170m tall)
Soaring 170 meters above Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent, the Spinnaker Tower is taller than the London Eye and Big Ben and has already established itself as a national icon. Situated on the waterfront at Gunwharf Quays, it offers panoramic views of Portsmouth Harbour, the south coast and out to the Isle of Wight, with views stretching for up to 23 miles – breathtaking by day and a glittering sea of lights by night. View Deck 1 boasts a glass floor, where visitors of all ages can dare to ‘walk on air’; View Deck 2 is home to a Café in the Clouds, while View Deck 3 – The Crow’s Nest – is open to the elements, enabling visitors to feel the wind in their hair. Tickets cost £8.25 for adults and £6.55 for children. To book, visit www.spinnakertower.co.uk
Big One, Blackpool Pleasure Beach (72m tall)
Brace yourself for the Big One, the UK’s tallest roller coaster. Feel the adrenaline rush as you climb to a nail-biting height of 72 meters over Blackpool Pleasure beach. The attraction’s first drop boasts an inclined angle of 65 degrees and at speeds of up to 87mph – this roller coaster is an experience like no other! The Big One is also one of the longest rollercoasters, measuring over a mile in length. An unlimited rides wristband for Blackpool Pleasure Beach costs £17.50 for adults and £15 for children. To book, visit www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com
Weymouth SEA LIFE Tower, Dorset (53m tall)
Weymouth Bay is part of England’s most scenic coastland. It’s also home to some of the country’s best sailing waters and hosted the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events last summer. Soaring high above the resort, Weymouth SEA LIFE Tower provides stunning panoramic views of the Jurassic coastline – England’s first natural World Heritage Site – and out over Weymouth Bay, Chesil Beach, and Portland. Turning through a full 360 degrees and climbing to over 170 feet above sea level, this is an experience not to be missed! Tickets cost from £13 per person. To book, visit www.visitsealife.com/Weymouth
Up at the O2, London (53m tall)
Ever climbed an icon? Now’s your chance! This breath-taking attraction combines an exhilarating active outdoor challenge with a completely unique perspective on the capital. The unforgettable 90-minute experience takes visitors on an uplifting guided expedition across the roof of The O2 via a tensile fabric walkway suspended 53 meters above ground level. An observation platform at the summit will enable climbers to take in spectacular 360-degree views of the city and its many landmarks, including the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, The Shard, Historic Royal Greenwich and Canary Wharf, before descending back to base. Tickets start at £22 for adults and children. To book, visit www.theo2.co.uk/upattheo2
Angel of the North, Newcastle Gateshead (20m tall)
Up in Gateshead, Anthony Gormley’s The Angel of the North spreads its iron wings to 54 meters wide. After a controversial start in 1998, ‘The Angel of the North’ is now almost universally loved, and it seems the feeling is mutual; the sculpture’s wings are angled forward 3.5 degrees to create, in Gormley’s words, “a sense of embrace”. Free to view. For more information, visit www.angelofthenorth.org.uk.