I’ve been watching the Shard grow from a hole in the ground to an amazing finished building which catches the eye where ever you are in central London.
This week I finally got round to going up it and it certainly lived up to all the hype I’d heard since its opening in February. I awoke on Monday nervously looking at the sky as I really wanted a fine day. Western Europe’s tallest building can be hidden in or even above the clouds as I’d seen during the Jubilee river parade – that famous day of dreadful weather when the top of the Shard disappeared into the clouds! However, it turned out to be a fine morning and I reckon having been there that a visit would be fun even in poorer weather.
|Losing the top at the Jubilee River Parade|
For those who like to know these things, we say it’s ‘the tallest building in Western Europe’, because there are buildings going up in Moscow that already beat our Shard.
Arriving at London Bridge station you can see that the whole area is being developed and the Shard is the focal point of this transformation. You turn the corner and there it is – streaking up into the sky. The entry is welcoming with a member of staff there to greet you and point the way and as I was there at 10am on a Monday morning I just walked straight through the airport style security into the first of two lifts.
Lift one takes you to floor 33 and you cross over to zoom silently up to floor 68. You can chose between the covered viewing platform on floor 69 or the more open air one on floor 72 but there are still glass walls so don’t worry. The top platform at 244 metres above ground is truly spectacular with 360 degree views across the rooftops of London to the distant hills and along the Thames through to the Thames Barrier and beyond. You can look directly up into the open air and see the points of the glass reaching into the sky that give the tower its name, though I must admit that made me feel a bit wobbly! A couple of workmen were doing some repairs on the outside of the building and I could barely watch – not a job for many people….
|Arriving at the top of lift two|
|Workman fixing his harness|
|Nerves of steel!|
You can stay as long as you like, spotting landmarks and watching the clouds pass and even helicopters which fly across the skies at your level! On floor 69 there are great telescopes which show you the key buildings and have an info function if you want to learn more about each one.
Here’s my gallery of photos so you can enjoy the View from the Shard. Looking west you can follow the Thames and its bridges and see St Paul’s, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Wembley Stadium
Looking east you can again follow the Thames, see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and on to Canary Wharf and the Thames Barrier:
|The Thames curving east|
|The Tower of London|
|Canary Wharf through to the Thames Barrier|
The platforms are spacious and have plenty of viewing spots. The telescopes are free but timed to 2 minutes to keep people moving around and not hogging them!
|The platform at floor 69|
|One of the many free telescopes|
|Extra info from the telescope|
You can look into the City with new buildings going up, as always…. Beyond the City, the Olympic village comes into view as well with the stadium and Orbit bringing back great memories of London 2012.
|The Olympic stadium with the red of Orbit|
It can be blowy on floor 72 and here’s yours truly looking a little wind swept!