, , , ,

I fear a lot of things – spiders, telephones, excessive social interaction – but one thing I do not fear is heights. This is just as well, since another thing that my friend and I did when she was staying with me was go up the Shard.


Ground floor entrance to the View


Wall of quotes celebrating London

You have to book in advance and yes, the price is extortionate (nearly £20) but the view from up there is incredible. In fairness the experience is planned really well: your ticket is timed, and you have half an hour from the stated start time on your ticket to go in. Once inside, you have to queue for a very short while in order to go through an airport-style security system. This isn’t as scary as it sounds: the staff are all cheerful and friendly. To reach the very top you have to go into two different lifts, both of which made my ears pop owing to the sheer speed of travel! I liked the moving images and videos on the ceiling of the lifts.

Once up, there are two levels: one which is fully indoors, and another, the highest, which is slightly open to the elements. Luckily the day we’d chosen was a good one, with little wind and not too many clouds, so we got a clear view over London while suffering only mild chills. The space was busy, but not too crowded, as it surely would have been if tickets weren’t timed.

And what a view it is. I’ve been on the London Eye and I’ve been to the top of the ‘Gerkhin’, but the Shard is something else entirely. My friend and I stayed up there for ages, pointing out landmarks and trying to identify random buildings. This is definitely an experience where pictures say much more than words ever could.


The ‘Gerkhin’, the ‘Walkie Talkie’… and I don’t know the names of the other buildings!


Looking approximately west towards the Thames


Blackfriars Bridge, the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge


The London Eye, which looks tiny from here


St Paul’s Cathedral


The Tower of London


Battersea Power Station


The BT Tower, with Wembley in the background