Artfully timed to coincide with the completion of the Shard, western Europe’s tallest building, Skyline London offers a neat little guide to London’s loftiest vantage points. Most guidebooks promise a different perspective on the capital, but this one delivers by its very nature.
Around 50 viewpoints are included, ranging from restricted skyscraper peaks to public hilltops — Parliament and Primrose Hills, naturally, but also some lesser-known heights like Horsenden Hill and Point Hill. Along the way, we discover rooftop restaurants, repurposed slag heaps and a destination car park.
Each entry gives a brief introduction to the edifice followed by detailed descriptions of the views to each cardinal point. The book is designed to be taken with you, and includes several maps showing sight-lines from the more commonly visited pinnacles.
You’re guaranteed to discover a few surprises, like the restaurant on top of the Pan Peninsula building in Canary Wharf, or the views from Ankerdine Crescent near Woolwich. As a tour guide, Caroline Dale includes plenty of insightful anecdote, such as the lack of finish on the back of the statues on St Paul’s…the architect didn’t intend you to see them from above and behind.
We found it ever so slightly irksome that viewing heights aren’t always included, and when they are, they’re sometime in feet and sometimes in metres. But these are minor quibbles that only the geeks among us will care about.
With so many tall buildings in London these days, omissions are inevitable. The Orbit Tower on the Olympic Park, Up at the O2, and the new cable car all presumably missed the publication deadline, while SushiSamba at the top of the Heron Tower (opened last week) did get a look in. When you add in the Walkie Talkie and Cheesegrater buildings, which will complete in the next couple of years, a second edition will soon be needed.
Skyline London by Caroline Dale is out now from Aurum Press. Buy here.
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