Although walking the coast of Britain is our primary objective, we also have a side mission – to go to the top of every one of the World Federation of Great Towers. There are 45 of them. If we really are going to get to the top of all of them (which I’m sure we won’t) we will have to travel to every continent in the world and visit places we would never normally go to. That, of course, is the main reason for doing it in the first place.
We have been up the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. It was accommodating enough to stand right on our Coastal Path. We have gone half way up the Eiffel Tower (meaning we’ve got to go back to do it properly). We have been up Berlin’s Fernsehturm.
But there was one tower which was much closer to home which we had not yet been up – The Shard in London. Completed in 2012 and standing at 310 metres (1,016 feet) The Shard is (at the time of publication, at least) the tallest building in Western Europe. You need a wide-angle lens to get it to fit in a photo. It dwarfs all other buildings.
The Shard is so tall that you have to get two lifts up. The first stops half way up the tower. You have to get out and cross over to another one in order to get to the very top. I’m sure this is a gimmick – a deliberate travelling disadvantage. “It’s so tall you have to get two lifts up!” is what they want you to say. And of course it works, because that’s exactly what I did say at the beginning of this paragraph.
But what we really came for were the views. Were they any good? We’d been on the London Eye on a couple of occasions and enjoyed the views from that. Oh look! There’s the Eye – down there!
And look! There’s the Walkie Talkie! This is something on an infamous building in the UK. Whether or not its infamy is known outside of the UK I don’t know, but this building has literally melted cars!
In 2013 poor old Martin Lindsay parked his Jaguar in the City of London. Two hours later he arrived to find that parts of it had melted. Was it vandals? No! It was the sun reflecting of the glass exterior of the Walkie Talkie! The developers had to pay Martin Lindsay for the cost of the repairs.
The glass exterior curves inwards and downwards, channeling the sunlight into a heat ray that every schoolboy with a magnifying glass can only dream about. Do you see the black sheet over the building in the picture? That’s a permanently fitted sunshade to stop anymore damage to the nice shiny cars of the people of London!
Most of London’s iconic buildings could be seen from The Shard. We saw the Tower of London…
There is one feature I like to see on any tall tower. It is the cherry on top, so to speak. It has to have an open-air deck. If you are going to go up a tower you want to feel the chill air and cold breeze at the top. I was pleased to see that The Shard has one.
Four Great Towers of the World Federation down (well OK, three-and-a-half)! Only 41 to go (well OK, forty-one-and-a-half)! Next stop Žižkov Tower I hope!
The Shard (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- The Shard: N 51° 30.270 W 000° 05.190