A bit of a slide at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

So finally I'm sharing more from my visit to the Arcelormittal Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford last week - the photo I shared is part of the corkscrew section of the slide.

I accepted the invite on a whim, because I thought it would be a good thing to say I've done. And it is. But I'd forgotten how tall the sculpture is. I should have known really as we visited it during the Paralympics before heading into the stadium to watch the athletics.

I forgot too how I'm not so good with heights. Well, actually that's not true. I'm ok with being up there, it's just the getting down again that I have trouble with. Which is sort of the point of a slide isn't it. 

As I got off the DLR at Pudding Lane - great name hey?  - it comes from the nearby Pudding Mill River which is a tributary of the River Lea, I quickly remembered everything I'd forgotten above, plus that I'd never ever managed to do a water slide either.  Oops.

I also started to spot what looked like a spiralling metal tunnel which looked to be a new addition since our last visit. And then I realised that that service duct-like metal tunnel was actually the slde. Gulp. I seriously thought about heading back to the DLR but forced myself onwards to get a closer look. I walked around the Orbit and took some pictures and then walked around it some more and decided to go in.

P1120221.jpg

I wasn't so sure that I'd be enjoying it, but I appreciated the encouragement.

Enjoy it!

There's a small exhibition as you go through the entrance and I couldn't help but agree with this, although I think probably more madness than sense. And from the pictures of the evening, I seem to have caught the look of madness, or apprehension, or just complete utter amazement that I walked through the door.

A slide is somewhere between delight and madness
 MY FACE IS WONDERING WHAT ON EARTH I'M DOING HERE!

MY FACE IS WONDERING WHAT ON EARTH I'M DOING HERE!

Before we headed up to the lower viewing level we were able to check out the slide from the ground. I was keen to see where we'd come out. Close up it looked much larger than it had from the outside, so that was reassuring, and it looked hard to get stuck in it, which was even more reassuring. 

Where you come out

There's plenty of wooden bench-like-beds there too for taking more unusual shots of the slide, and liking a lay down - and needing one by now as I realised what was coming - I tried them out. I was also grateful for these when my wobbly legs climbed off the chute later too.  It's not too surprising that they were wobbly though as the slide is 178 metres high, and I'm only (at my very tallest) 1.57 metres.

 AH YES, A LIE DOWN. THAT'LL HELP...

AH YES, A LIE DOWN. THAT'LL HELP...

checking out the slide from lying down

Leaving our bags in the lockers on the ground we headed up to the sliding platform in the high speed lift.  Having already checked out where I'd come out, now it was time to see where you went in. As I've already said I'm not much of one for looking down so stayed well away from the edge.

Where you go in
 ATTRACTIVE HUH?

ATTRACTIVE HUH?

Next up was the protective gear. It's not flattering, but my take on it was if they think you need it, I'd be wearing it - they are the experts after all. 

As well as the attractive headgear I'm modelling there were elbow pads and knee pads for those wearing skirts or leggings. I escaped wearing those, but as you can see wasn't looking too happy about the rest of it either. 

Actually I'm on the ramp talking myself into going ahead with it all. I tried to look down but obviously sensing my nerves wasn't allowed to look. The guy at the top was really patient with me and let me take my time to prepare myself. He also said that if I looked down I'd never do it, and I think he was probably right.

You get to sit on a very comfy mat with your feet enclosed. There's a strap to hold onto as well and your hands are just by your knees. You're told to keep your elbows in - happy to do that. To lift your head up to see what's going on - not so sure about that, or to lie back if it all gets too much - I most probably did quite a bit of this. And it's ok to scream too, tick!

The trickiest bit for me was pulling myself forward to get to the sliding position. And then to let go. I couldn't move my hand from the rail and needed to shift my weight to the right to do this. The operator had already worked out that I wasn't going to push myself over the edge so he did that for me. And I was off.

There was some screaming - mine, I think. But then I stopped screaming. It was odd. Just as I thought I'd mastered it another twist or turn or drop down or change of direction came along. The whole slide takes 40 seconds give or take, depending on a number of factors. But it was a long 40 seconds I can tell you. It was reassuring to know that I had the whole tunnel to myself and that no one else would slide down into me.

And when I stopped, I was still in the tunnel. I hoped I was at the end and had stopped short rather than being stuck somewhere along the way. I didn't feel stuck though, so as I was working out what to do a very nice lady pulled my mat from by my feet and I was out in the open. After a quick and quite wobbly high five I was once again very glad to see those bench-like-wooden-beds.

It was interesting to hear how the rest of our party coped with the slide on their way down. There were screams and yelps and even some singing, to disguise the screams and you knew if someone was on the slide by the whooshing noise and that I think could be a noise that'd become quite addictive. 

I was offered the chance to do it again, but once was enough. Somehow I expect the operator at the top already knew he wouldn't be seeing me again.  So declining a repeat performance I headed up to the observation deck, above the sliding platform and admired the views.

 LOOKING TOWARDS THE CITY

LOOKING TOWARDS THE CITY

 LOOKING AT THE SWIMMING POOL IN THE OLYMPIC PARK

LOOKING AT THE SWIMMING POOL IN THE OLYMPIC PARK

And then it was time to go. The sculpture was lit and the slide was closed. And rather than go down in the lift, I opted to walk down. There's 455 of them and well, it's how I left the Orbit the last time I visited, and it wasn't the slide so I was up for doing that again.  I'd recommend that if you visit. And it's definitely worth doing, even for height-ists and scaredy-cats like me.

ArcellorMittal Orbit lit up at night

To ride the slide tickets are £15 for adults and £10 for children. That's just for one slide, but for me once was enough, although if there are spaces you can book a second slide for just the price of the slide. You do have to book, when I visited at the start of September the first free weekend slots were into October so if it's something you want to do get yourself onto the ticket page now.

And if you'd rather be a bit more cautious and enjoy it from your front room, then take a look at this video filmed the evening I was there. 

Thanks to AttractionTix for inviting me along and letting me prove to myself that sometimes I'm not as much as a scaredy-cat as I think I am!