London’s latest viewing platform, The Shard, offers fantastic views all across the city – I’ve seen the photos. I can only imagine the feeling: on top of the world. But when you take into account that you pay thirty pounds a ticket, your time up there is limited and there are occasional waiting lists at peak times, one starts to wonder whether the view is worth it after all. The London Eye similarly has costing, waiting and time issues. No one can dispute the incredible views; no doubt better than any other in the city, but if you value time and money and like to savour your experiences then perhaps you should consider some alternative places offering fantastic views.
The Monument: Viewing History
This isn’t free but at 10% of what it costs to get to the top of The Shard you can access one of London’s original historic public viewing platforms. You also have 311 spiral steps to conquer before the view becomes apparent, but by partaking in the climb you also get to experience a part of London’s rich history. The Monument stands 61 metres tall, 61 metres is also the distance it stands away from the start point of London’s greatest fire: The Great Fire of London. The Monument is in fact a monument to the bakery which changed London’s infrastructure forever when it burst into flames. From the viewing platform you can see the City, the river and many of London’s famous buildings. At three pounds a climb, it’s a steal.
King Henry’s Mound: The Protected View
This view has been protected since Henry VIII reign, 1710. The law stipulates that the view, framed by plants, must contain a ‘dome and a half’ width of the sky either side of St Paul’s Cathedral. Meaning nothing must obstruct its presence in the London skyline. The view itself is rather stunning in its leafy frame at the highest point of Richmond Park. It’s positioning is just so that it makes the perfect spot for a picnic. And unless you want to fork out 20p to peek through the perfectly positioned binoculars, it’s completely free.
Shooter’s Hill: A View for Romance
Not a very well known part of the city, somewhere between Blackheath, Greenwich and Deptford you’ll find Shooter’s Hill. A historic point for highwaymen attacks on passing coaches and later a burial ground, it is now quite safe to rest here. Exploration will not only unveil some of the best views of London (particularly at night) but you’ll also find the views are pretty secluded. Benches are perfectly placed for a fantastic view as well as being private enough for a snuggle and a smooch. It’s a rewarding view, providing you put the leg work in to find the place!
Parliament Hill: Panoramic View
Parliament Hill is by no means a secret. It’s Hampstead Heath’s main draw. Perhaps the best panoramic view of London, its popular for a reason. This is a great picnic spot with tons going on around, kite flyers, picnic-ers, cross country running. It is rumoured that Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby chose this spot to view the the destruction of Parliament; the outcome of the Great Gunpowder Plot. We’ll never know as the plot was famously foiled. It just goes to show, the view up there has a reputation that stretches back to the 17th Century.
Beckton Alps: View With a Twist
In its glory days it was a dry ski slope, before that it was a toxic spoil heap from the nearby gas works. All that is a part of its brief history. This artificial hill now lies derelict as a part of East Ham nature reserve. The ski slopes are now overcome by nature, but is still pretty accessible. Call it what you will, disused spoil heap, derelict ski slope, Beckton Alps contains some fantastic views towards London’s docklands. It is also fairly remote, so if you want to be pensive aloft a toxic heap – this is the setting for you. Climb at your own risk!
All views were explored by Taxi-Dave on behalf of Amitours, London taxi service. Visit more of London’s best or to book a London taxi visit amitours.co.uk.
Photo Credit (top) Andy Bold