London – Westminster (Borough of) – Marble Arch Mound

I’m a bit behind with my blog efforts at the moment, but I’m now in London after a successful few days in York at the LDWA NEC meeting. But more about all that in other posts.

It’s fair to say that this project at Marble Arch on Oxford Street in London has been causing some controversy recently. It’ll an artificial construct which is there for just a few months until January 2022 and it’s effectively lots of scaffolding with some earth dumped on top. It’s quite unpopular judging by the local press, but I really like it, I think it’s quirky. And, I’m an expert in hills as everyone knows as I’ve summited Beeston Bump in Norfolk.

The opening was a bit of a disaster and everyone was refunded their admission fee money. Given that, the nice thing about this is that the mound has been made free of charge for everyone in August, so I took advantage of that little deal. I had to pre-book on-line yesterday for a visit today, but there was lots of availability.

The ticket checking process was all a bit informal, with two young team members jostling over who could get my QR code to scan first. I quite liked the informal approach, although I suspect they’ll get some complaints if they’re not careful from some grumpier people. The security process was also informal and the team members conversational, although this a project that is heavily overdone with staff at the moment.

I started my ascent and it was raining, which wasn’t ideal if I’m being honest. I wouldn’t say that the steps were slippery, but the entire scaffolding structure is visible through the gaps and I didn’t like that as I’m scared of heights. But, I remained very brave as everyone who knows me would imagine….

The trek up the scaffolding continues and it’s 25 metres to the top (so, that’s nearly a mountain).

The views now start to become apparent. There have been some complaints that the views aren’t very exciting, but to slightly misquote one of my favourite BBC comedies:

“Well, may I ask what you expected to see from Marble Arch? Sydney Opera House, perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically?”

More views from the top. There was a sheer drop on just one side, and I didn’t dare poke my phone through the fencing at that point in case I dropped it and it smacked onto someone’s head (likely breaking their head and my phone). Otherwise I thought that it was a different perspective of this part of London.

There is going to be an exhibition reached by going down those stairs, but it’s closed at the moment. The popularity of the summit is visible here, with two team members sheltering in the rain.

Stuart Love, the Chief Executive of Westminster City Council, said:

“Now is the time to bring the buzz back to central London and to see people visiting the West End again. We are working hard to resolve the outstanding issues and create an attraction worthy of our fantastic city. It’s going to look great and be an amazing experience once we’ve got it ready!”

And time for the descent. My biggest complaint about this arrangement is that it’s not there long enough, it’s being taken down in a few months. So that’s a lot of resources to build a big fake hill and then take it down again, without any real meaning. It was meant to increase the number of people visiting the area, although I’m really not entirely sure that Oxford Street has many problems with that. I’m not negative about what they’ve done though, I like it as it’s quirky, it’s a talking point and I can imagine that kids will like it. I’m quite pleased to have experienced it and hope that it increases a bit in popularity over the next few months.