Wandsworth Riverside Quarter had a couple of cranes set back slightly from the river. Not massive, but substantial enough to justify the moderate amount of effort needed to get to them. Set up in the dug out basement a couple of levels beneath ground, we first had to get onto the site (easy), then into the basement (quite easy). Although this was an unusual hassle, it was made considerably easier by the apparent lack of any human presence on or around the site.
The ladders are long and seemingly endless. The jib is the only indicator of distance, and eventually your arrival at the top is indicated by an absence of more ladders and a difference in construction presenting the machinery that allows it to rotate. The climb is also the point at which you’re most likely to be seen – a movement on the silhouette of the crane’s spindles could alert somebody on the ground. It’s the paranoia that makes you push on and climb faster, despite the breathlessness and tiredness that ensues.
On top it is always more relaxed. Hidden against the thicker construction of the jib, somebody would have to really be looking to see you. In Oslo recently, a guard on the Fjordcity site would check around the base of each of the 6 cranes on site, then step back 10m to look up, before repeating this. He also had a dog that could assumedly climb. We passed on these.
There’s a certain calmness when above. The only obstacle to your enjoyment is the potential of a police helicopter, or the thought of somebody coming up to get you. In all likeliness, it’s on site that you’ll be stopped, if at all. We departed after half an hour enjoying the height and absence of any visible human life, bar the odd train rolling past. Where else can you find that detachment in an urban area than up high?