Today, nearly half a century after the local authorities had to relocate two hundred west London families because of the newly built Westway elevated motorway, what makes this part of the city so appealing is the presence of what’s probably the best leading/top roping wall in the English capital. However, let’s dive “under the Westway” as the guys from Blur would say, and discover Westway sports and fitness centre, home of one of the biggest climbing venues in the city.
“The best place in the world. It has everything you need… I practically live here.” – Louis Parkinson
While walking around the streets or at the shopping mall for example (please, do not judge this idea too hard), you may find yourself in front of a glass wall and behind it – like in a big aquarium – strong people battle gravity. You witness a different climbing fauna and immediately are impressed – a thousand reasons make you crave trying some of the things these people do.
The picture is similar with Vauxwall Climbing Centre at the heart of London. While curiously observing the busy South Lambeth Road – only two minutes from VauxHall Station, you’ll come upon the sheeny windows and orange-blue colors of VauxWall. You will notice the occupied hosts working their stuff at the reception desk and behind them – all kinds of species: smaller and bigger fish, powerful whales showing off their fitness and slick boulder sharks swimming gracefully through their sporty entertainment in the climbing aquarium.
Cruising around Bermondsey I couldn’t stop thinking of biscuits. Usually my hyperactive mind starts overcoming its ADD around the early afternoon and the different voices talking inside my head are harnessed in the single adequate transmission of their master. By this time of the day, my London tour brought me in front of that massive Victorian industrial park. The sign read “Biscuit factory”.
“Master should write about this,” the voice said.
“Wait, what should I write about?”
“It’s not cookies for sure.”
Few meters ahead, there was the sign with the monkey on it. Now that was something familiar. The Arch Climbing Wall! Without further hesitation, I entered the yard.
“BINGO! A bouldering wall! Master knows he cannot resist,” the voice was giggling.
Wikipedia says that “Mile End is a district in East London, England, 3.6 miles east-northeast of Charing Cross.” For me – yet another cityscape spreading in front of my eyes as I come out of the tube. My destination – the famous Mile End climbing center, the only thing I was associating with this geographical concept in East London.
Intending to write my first climbing wall review for the “London’s finest” project I jumped straight into the gym located on a beautiful riverside and surrounded by a calmingly green landscape. I approached the venue, immediately instagrammed my presence and entered replete with curiosity. Once inside – straight to the reception, smiling suspiciously and asking tons of questions. That’s what I mean when I call myself “an alien climber” – locals are looking at me as if I were the first V-1 flying bomb that hit Mile End in 1944 during WWII – something foreign, unknown and totally unexpected. In the best scenario I could be a nerdy and bothersome beginner or some sort of mystery customer.