Great view - and a Big One!

6
Have your say

Wow, what a view! Since I moved to Blackpool The Big One is the view which has greeted me every time I open my bedroom curtains in the morning.

I walk past it most days and have longed to experience its thrills like the countless thousands of revellers who take to its rails each summer.

The Gazette's David Sharman at the summit of the Big One.

The Gazette's David Sharman at the summit of the Big One.

So naturally when a muttered suggestion from my bosses came my way involving Europe’s fastest roller coaster I jumped at the chance - not realising that what they actually wanted me to do was climb up its not inconsiderable 235ft frame.

It sounds frightening – but this is exactly the experience visitors to this season’s Illuminations can share, as bosses at the Pleasure Beach allow the 420 steps to the top of the Big One to be climbed for the first time.

The walks, which have to be booked in advance, will take place on September 6, 13, 20 and 27, and October 4 and 11. Climbers (a maximum of six per climb) will even receive an certificate to prove they conquered the challenge.

Now heights don’t normally bother me. I’ve never had a problem with flying and could merrily tap dance on the glass ceiling of the Tower should I be so inclined (or talented enough). But the only thing here to protect me from both the elements and gravity is a lead attached to the coaster’s railings.

Reporter Dave Sharman walks to the top of the Big One

Reporter Dave Sharman walks to the top of the Big One

“Just pretend you’re walking a dog” our two guides, senior operator Dave Brooks and operator James Moulton, offer cheerfully.

So with our fictional and apparently fearless cocker spaniels in tow we begin the ascent, rising slowly above a still sleepy Blackpool at 7.30am.

At first the breeze seems gentle. But soon it reveals itself with a fuller, more brutal force, creaking its way through the framework of this magnificent structure. Despite this unsettling presence the climb itself becomes enjoyable as we pass through the indicators at 50ft, 100ft, 150ft - detaching us from reality and revealing the entirety of the Fylde as a model village, with toy cars and buses tootling merrily along its streets.

After around 10 minutes we reach the 235ft apex of what was once the world’s tallest and steepest roller coaster.

It’s a title it sadly no longer holds, but the view is still quite something - in spite of the now much stronger wind’s apparent vexation at our passage to such a height.

A haze obscures our views of both the Bowland Fells to the east and the expanse of the Irish Sea to the west - but down below we can see with perfect clarity the Pleasure Beach’s array of amusements and the distant outline of The Tower.

It’s with a heavy heart that we begin the descent after seeing such wonderful sights.

To experience a climb to the top of the Big One yourself, book online at www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com.

How to secure your trip to the top of the Big One

The walks take place on September 6, 13, 20 and 27 and October 4 and 11 and can be booked online in advance at www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com.

There is a maximum of six climbers per walk and there will be two climbs on each event. Every climber will receive an certificate.

Nick Thompson, deputy managing director of the Pleasure Beach, said: “The Big One is one of the most iconic roller coasters in the world.

“It was a world’s first for its sheer height and speed and we want to give riders an experience no other amusement park can give them.

“Walking the Big One is an amazing experience and it gives the climber a unique view of the park and the rest of the Fylde Coast.”

Follow us on twitter @The_Gazette and like our page on facebook to keep up with all the latest news.