Last week I did a ride on the world’s longest inner-city zipline, Zip Now London, for the second time in a year. I’m terribly scared of heights, but it has to be done, it’s just so much fun.
The zipline is located in the beautiful setting of Archbishop’s Park next to Lambeth Palace, the London pied-à-terre of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the principal leader of the Church of England and symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Since 2013, this position is held by former oil baron Justin Welby, perhaps most renowned for his defence of bankers during the banking crisis, when he was extremely helpful in explaining to the UK Parliament’s Banking Standards Commission, that the way things work is that senior executives avoid being given information about difficult issues in order to allow them to plead ignorance. By way of background he added that he would have behaved in the same way and warned against “lynch mob punishing” by naming and shaming individual bankers. A true man of God, bless him, it’s an honour that he used to be a member of Ms B’s and my congregation, Holy Trinity Brompton, before his post-oil career in religion kicked off.
All photos here except feature photo are (c) Zip Now. Feature (c) BSqB.
You make your way the 250m from the main entrance to the reception on the far end where you register, sign your waiver, and gear up. Then it goes back to near the entrance, where the 30m tall tower stands. My fellow thrill-seekers and I could clearly feel the tower moving slightly in the wind, but it did all feel safe at all times. I had to remind myself that nearly all structures are impacted by winds.
The top of the world’s tallest residential building, Central Park Tower, New York City, 420m high, sways 5 metres, the same distance that the top of the tallest building overall on this planet sways: Burj Khalifa, which is twice as high (828m, we visited it recently, blog post here). In short, a few inches of sway on this temporary structure are perfectly permissible.
There was a bit of a queue at the top, which in a way is good, because you get to see all the folks in front of you jump off the edge, and bad, because you get to see all the folks in front of you jump off the edge. I think it increased my tension to be up there for so long. I just had too much time to think about how much I fear heights, what could theoretically go wrong in such a set-up and so on. In the end I was a tad high-strung.
You step onto the three-step downward ramp and walk down to the lowest step, as soon as your gear has been attached to the rope. During all this time you hold the handle above you. Then you wait for up to three minutes until you get the go-ahead and kick yourself off the ramp. Due to the relatively significant angle (the lower tower is a lot shorter) you gain speed quickly and reach roughly 50km/h, which will give you quite a bit of pleasant headwind on a hot day.
It is a real fun, exhilarating experience. It’s over way too quickly, when the braking system kicks in. Then the staff at the lower tower will pull you towards the landing platform. I might do this again next year. Ticket sales for next season begin 2 March 2020. 5 out of 5 in my book.