23 March 2014

The View from The Monument

I love a good skyline view and since the viewing platform at the Shard opened last year, I've been meaning to go and check it out. However, the £25 ticket price and the fact that you only get the view through glass mean that I haven't exactly been in a rush, either. Meanwhile, I walk, run or ride past The Monument several days a week on my way home from work or into town.

Standing at just over 200 feet, The Monument — designed by Christopher Wren in the late 17th century to commemorate the Great Fire of London — is much shorter than its south-of-the-river neighbour, but it also costs only £3 to go up. To the consternation of some tourists, there are no lifts, just a winding spiral staircase with 311 steps, but this just adds to the fun.

Walking home this afternoon, it was a sunny day and I had my camera with me, although not my zoom lens, so I figured it was as good a time as any to enjoy the view. The staircase is very narrow, but I enjoyed my climb to the top. It makes you feel like you've earned the view.

At the top, the walkway is very narrow — it becomes very crowded once there are more than 10 people on the platform — but although there is a chain link fence between you and a 200-foot drop, you are at least out in the open. Indeed, it was quite cold and windy up there today. I started making my way anticlockwise around the walkway. First up was the City — the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater and the  Jaguar-melting Walkie Talkie.

Then, round on the west side of the platform, you can spy St Paul's and the BT Tower. Although the fence did allow me to poke most of my camera's lens through the gaps, the fence did manage to intrude in some photos. If you don't have a big DSLR lens, you'll probably be fine.

Isn't the "copper vase of flames" on the top gorgeous in the sunshine? The sky really was that blue this afternoon.

And then you see the Shard. One of the reasons I prefer to go up the Top of the Rock than the Empire State Building in New York, because when you visit the former, you get to see the latter. You can also see the Strata building at Elephant & Castle.

As you look to the east you can see Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, and my flat. Well, OK, technically you can't see my flat without binoculars, but it would be just to the right of the top walkway of Tower Bridge.

Finally, it was time to climb back down. It was a very pleasant way to spend 40 minutes and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a nice view of London in a more relaxed setting and with a much cheaper price tag than the View from the Shard.

The Monument. Fish Street Hill, London, EC3R 8AH (Tube: Monument). Website.

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