Working near the Tower of London, and miserably commuting on the Northern Line, I walk past The Monument every morning. Amongst the glass skyscrapers of London’s square mile, there is a vast amount of history in the city that gets overlooked by us tired financiers. All we want to do is get home, without looking up from the floor or from our copy of the Evening Standard, with no conversation, and with minimal manners if we can help it. And I must admit that The Monument was something that I overlooked for months, until I learnt you could actually go up the thing!
I mean they don’t make it obvious! I found it out from an advertisement on the Oxford Circus elevators, not from walking past it every day! There is no clear entrance, no queue, no striking mention of it at Monument station. They should make more of an effort bringing the public in, because for the price of a pint you can go to the top of a mark of history and get a view over the city. It does involve 311 steps however, up a thin stairwell, which isn’t ideal for two way traffic and gets pretty stressful. But all that means is that by the time you’ve reached the top, the view is well deserved. I don’t imagine you’d feel the same sense of achievement getting a lift up the Walkie Talkie. The view down the middle of the spiral staircase is pretty impressive too (but it takes some balls to hang your phone over the edge to take a pic). You also get a little certificate of this achievement to take home with you.
I’d imagine the view from the Walkie Talkie would be much better though. When it was built, the Monument probably soared over the city skyline. But these days, while still being tall, it’s not far above the average office block, and the view is unfortunately dominated by rooftops and cranes. You do get a nice view down the river though. I also didn’t learn much about the history of it in the process and must admit than some educational signs on the way up would have been a good addition, but then again, that would have encouraged loitering on the already restricted staircase. All in all though, for a Sunday afternoon, a walk up the monument is worth the £4. But don’t expect to see for miles upon miles when you’re up there, or learn much about the history of the Great Fire of London. It’s tall, but there are taller things on the block.