I’m pretty certain the last time Londoners paid any attention to a zip wire was in 2012, when Boris Johnson found himself dangling in mid-air above Victoria Park during the Olympics, helplessly waving two union jack flags like some kind of metaphor for Britain’s perpetual identity crisis.
Five years on, the zip wire seems to be the only thing to emerge from that particular incident with its reputation intact. Which is lucky for London, because the zip wire is back!
From today, and until 1 October, Londoners, holidaymakers, anyone … can hurl themselves off a 35-metre-high tower in SE1, travelling 225 metres in a matter of seconds, and hitting speeds of more than 30mph in the process. Want to move significantly faster than every car in central London? Step this way.
Of course, that’s not how Zip World London is flogging it. The pitch? Enjoy views of the London Eye and Big Ben on “the biggest, fastest, city centre zip line in the world”. The company invited the press to try it, so after (a light) breakfast I made my way to Archbishop’s Park, not far from Waterloo or the South Bank.
What I can say is that from below, it seems a lot less impressive. However, after climbing up 10 flights of stairs, emerging above the treetops with the wind blowing across you, even the enthusiasm of Zip World’s upbeat staff couldn’t shake my nerves. It is pretty damn high.
Once you take that leap, however, clutching onto handles that run down the wire, it turns into a far more pleasant experience – like getting an extra shot in your morning coffee. It’s over quickly, but lasts long enough to look around, and have a glance at the Houses of Parliament.
The only downer is the price. At £22.50 for adults and £16.50 for children (the minimum age is eight), it’s not a cheap thrill. It’s only a couple of quid less than the London Eye (£23.45 for an adult and £18.95 for a child) and that ride lasts 30 minutes.
Still, if you’ve never done it, it is fun. And if you do get stuck, I was reassured, they will come and get you. If you don’t, well you can just add it to the list of things you can do better than Boris Johnson.