Apart from flying over the city by plane, there is no better view. Brighton… To the east, I can see the chalk cliffs of the Sussex coastline receding into the horizon. Below the frame of the West Pier is in the milky green sea, and the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Wheel rise above the architectural network that stretches throughout.
How are these magnificent views possible? I do British airways Climbing to the top of the i360 tower.
Climbing the BA i360 observation tower is already an exciting experience. The capsule, opened in 2016, slides up and rests at 450 feet (138 m) in the sky, revealing 360-degree views of the city, coastline and beyond.
Eilbhe McMahon of MailOnline Travel is at the pinnacle of the British Airways i360 Tower Top Climb, which opened to the public earlier this year.
On the left, Eilbhe climbs the inside of the tower, making his way to the top, which is 531 feet (162 m) high. There is a red light at the top of the tower (pictured on the right) – officially the highest point in Brighton.
The capsule in the BA i360 observation tower, which opened in 2016, reaches a maximum height of 450 feet (138 m).
An even more exciting challenge now opens up for the public. Visitors can climb a series of internal staircases to the top of the tower – a route primarily intended for technicians – and get a bird’s eye view of Brighton from 531 feet (162 m).
Initially, when I am asked to climb, I don’t really have to deal with altitude.
This indifference continues as I walk to the base of the tower, where two technicians – both named Josh – walk me through a security demonstration and we climb up in a donut-shaped capsule.
It is only when the capsule slows down to a stop in the middle of the tower and we go inside that fear really arises.
I make the mistake of looking down. A staircase inside a snake leads to the base of the tower, and under my feet it drops abruptly. Technicians inform me that only one person has ever given up on a climb at the last minute when they too faced this huge fall. My legs are starting to shake.
“I make the mistake of looking down,” says Eilbhe of going up. The photo shows a view of the observation deck from above.
What remains of Brighton West Pier can be seen by climbers when they reach the top of the tower.
Climbers can admire the “architecture that stretches around” the lookout tower.
“To the east, I can see the chalk cliffs of the Sussex coastline disappear into the horizon,” Eilbhe says of the species.
Western view from the tower. The silver tanks at the top of the tower act as ballast, keeping the tower stable in high winds.
The Tower Top Climb costs £ 99 for the British Airways i360 and is only open to children aged 12 and over.
One of the technicians hooks me safely to the leash, and although I know I have no chance of falling, it’s still awful.
Climbing the stairs, I feel like my legs and arms are shaking too much to hold my grip, but finally I reach the mezzanine where a second technician is waiting for me. This is the first uphill pit stop with 105 scaling steps.
Near the top, one of Josh’s two tells me about the inner workings of the lookout tower. He allows me to press a huge red button on the wall, which activates the watch pod’s brakes. The whole tower is buzzing with sound.
Engineers working at the i360 lookout tower are often required to scale the entire tower using a ladder system in place.
Eilbhe believes the journey will be “much less stressful” on the way back.
Silver tanks are lined with the walls at the top, which the technician explains are filled with Australian rainwater (literally – the tanks are manufactured in Australia and shipped with Australian rainwater).
These tanks act as ballast, keeping the tower stable in high winds. On stormy days, the tower can swing up to 3.3 feet (1 m), creating a swaying sensation like a boat in the ocean.
For repairs and maintenance, the engineers working there are often required to scale the entire tower from base to top by stairs, and they carefully time the climb.
Josh says his best time is 19 minutes, but shows that another of the technicians can climb to the top in just nine minutes.
A red light is on at the top of the tower. When the wind whirls around me, I touch the lighthouse, which is officially the highest point in Brighton. After enjoying the beautiful views, it’s time to descend.
It’s significantly less of a hassle on the way back, but the last stretch causes another shiver.
However, my nerves instantly calm down when we return to the capsule when I am handed a festive glass of Nyetimber sparkling wine.
As the capsule moves down, Brighton becomes larger in front of me, no longer from a bird’s eye view, but larger than life. I enjoyed every minute of the ascent – and I feel that I have overcome even the fear of heights, which I did not even know about.
The British Airways i360’s Tower Top Climb is £ 99 and is only open to people aged 12 and over. Tickets include a BA i360 pod flight, a tower climb, a selection of photographs taken during the tour, and drinks from the Nyetimber Sky Bar. Climbing to the top of the i360 tower takes place from Thursday to Sunday from 8.00 to 9.30. For more information visit britishairwaysi360.com…
The Holiday Inn Brighton – Seafront is directly opposite the British Airways i360 Observation Tower. Double rooms start at £ 96. For more information call 0333 320 9324 or visit hibrighton.com…