Climbing to see Big Ben – a room with a view

When people think of London and British landmarks, what top three come mind? People normally say Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge.

Well a couple of years ago, Mr Kiwi, my brother-in-law, a very good friend and I played London tourists for the day. It was awesome. I think I’ll have to split the day into 3 posts, or you may curse me for the sheer length of time it takes your computer to load!

It doesn’t look THAT tall.. I think…

Firstly we climbed about 210 feet high (the total tower is 96.3m, roughly 16 storeys) tower, by way of of a 334 step spiral staircase. Not just any fly-on the wall, blase turn-of-the-century run-of-the-mill tower, but up the big daddy. Elizabeth Tower (previously St Stephens Tower & renamed in 2012 to celebrate ‘er madge’s Diamond Jubilee) is known to the World at large as Big Ben, and you get to see the fascinating mechanism and clock face that comprises the world famous icon, then the enormous bell himself.

With this looming, I’ve been in secret training for this, and it’s had me on the stair machines in the gym for a while, building up to 10 minute sessions (you may think ’10 minutes? That’s nothing!’ try it, I dare you. It’s surprisingly hard!), and I am so glad I have been. As a bonus our guide said we were a rather fit group, and because of such we were up there in double quick time, meaning we spent more time listening to the beautiful bells up close. I’ve never been called ‘fit’! The guides do this climb 3 times a day and 15 times a week – they definitely aren’t gym Turkeys. 

We got to watch all of the mechnisms at work, see the famous pennies keeping the pendulum ticking regularily, check out the 32ft clock faces and best of all see Big Ben himself. It was such a fantastic thing to do, a moment that you never forget methinks.

I’m not going to bore you with all of the geeky fun facts, like the bell is a bit cracked, all 13.7 tonnes of it was winched up the Tower by 8 men, taking them a total of 32hours, and the E note Big Ben is famous for, is now E flat.. Go, I implore you. Or, check out Big Ben’s official website for more info than you can shake a stick at. Big Ben also has Twitter. Awesome.

The tours are (as of writing) free, and can only be done by UK Residents, but it’s so easy to do. Check-out their website and let me know what you think. Do it, it was amazing. I was only able to take a couple of very very sneaky pics, but we left grinning ear to ear.

Are you a UK resident & did you realise that this can be done? For free?