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Discovering the ‘glorious view’ from Brighton’s highest point on BA i360’s new Tower Top Climb

Aside from flying over the city by plane, there is no better view of Brighton. To the east, I can see the chalky cliffs of the Sussex coast fading into the horizon. Below, the West Pier corpse sits in the milky green sea, and the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Wheel tower above the web of architecture that stretches around it.

How are these glorious views possible? I’m doing British Airways i360 Tower Top Climb.

Ascending the BA i360 observation tower is already an exhilarating experience. The capsule, which opened in 2016, glides upward and rests at a spectacular height of 450 feet (138 m) in the sky, offering 360-degree views of the city, the coast and beyond.

Ailbhe MacMahon of MailOnline Travel on the cusp of British Airways i360's Tower Top Climb, which opened to the public earlier this year

Ailbhe MacMahon of MailOnline Travel on the cusp of British Airways i360’s Tower Top Climb, which opened to the public earlier this year

Ailbhe climbs inside the tower and heads to the top, which stands at a height of 162 m (531 ft).

Ailbhe climbs inside the tower and heads to the top, which stands at a height of 162 m (531 ft).

There is a red light at the top of the tower (pictured), officially the highest point in Brighton

There is a red light at the top of the tower (pictured), officially the highest point in Brighton

On the left, Ailbhe climbs inside the tower and heads to the top, which stands at a height of 162 m (531 ft). There is a red light at the top of the tower (pictured right), officially the highest point in Brighton

The BA i360 observation tower module, which opened in 2016, reaches a maximum height of 450 feet (138 m)

The BA i360 observation tower module, which opened in 2016, reaches a maximum height of 450 feet (138 m)

The BA i360 observation tower module, which opened in 2016, reaches a maximum height of 450 feet (138 m)

Now an even more exciting challenge is open to the public. Visitors can climb a series of internal stairs to the top of the tower, a route intended primarily for technicians, and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Brighton from 531 feet (162 m) in the air.

Initially, when I am offered the opportunity to climb, I am not fazed by the height.

This nonchalance continues when I reach the base of the tower, where two technicians, both named Josh, guide me through a safety demonstration and we make our way up into the donut-shaped capsule.

Only when the capsule slows down to a stop in the middle of the tower and we enter the interior does the fear really set in.

I make the mistake of looking down. The inner staircase winds its way to the bottom of the tower, with a steep drop below my feet. The technicians inform me that only one person has refused to do the climb in the last minute, when they also faced this immense drop. My legs start to shake.

“I make the mistake of looking down,” Ailbhe says of the climb. The photo shows the view of the observation capsule from the top.

Climbers can see what remains of Brighton's West Pier when they reach the top of the tower.

Climbers can see what remains of Brighton's West Pier when they reach the top of the tower.

Climbers can see what remains of Brighton’s West Pier when they reach the top of the tower.

Climbers can admire 'the network of architecture that extends around' the observation tower

Climbers can admire 'the network of architecture that extends around' the observation tower

Climbers can admire ‘the network of architecture that extends around’ the observation tower

`` To the east, I can see the chalky cliffs of the Sussex coast fading into the horizon, '' Ailbhe says of this view.

`` To the east, I can see the chalky cliffs of the Sussex coastline fading into the horizon, '' Ailbhe says of this view.

“ To the east, I can see the chalky cliffs of the Sussex coast fading into the horizon, ” Ailbhe says of this view.

The western view from the tower.  Silver tanks near the top of the tower act as ballast, keeping the tower stable in high winds

The western view from the tower.  Silver tanks near the top of the tower act as ballast, keeping the tower stable in high winds

The western view from the tower. Silver tanks near the top of the tower act as ballast, keeping the tower stable in high winds

The British Airways i360 Tower Top Climb costs £ 99 and is open to ages 12 and up only

The British Airways i360 Tower Top Climb costs £ 99 and is open to ages 12 and up only

The British Airways i360 Tower Top Climb costs £ 99 and is open to ages 12 and up only

One of the techs hooks me securely to my harness and while I know there is no chance of me falling, it is still terrifying.

Climbing the ladder, I feel like my legs and arms are shaking too much to hold my grip, but I finally reach a mezzanine, where the second technician waits. It is the first pit stop on the climb, with 105 steps to climb in total.

Near the top, one of the two Josh tells me about the inner workings of the observation tower. He lets me press a huge red button on the wall that activates the brakes on the observation pod. The entire tower resonates with sound.

Engineers working on the i360 viewing tower must often scale the entire tower using the ladder system instead.

Engineers working on the i360 viewing tower must often scale the entire tower using the ladder system instead.

Engineers working on the i360 viewing tower must often scale the entire tower using the ladder system instead.

Ailbhe finds the journey to be 'significantly less stressful on the way back'

Ailbhe finds the journey to be 'significantly less stressful on the way back'

Ailbhe finds the journey to be ‘significantly less stressful on the way back’

The silver tanks line the walls at the top which the technician explains are filled with Australian rainwater (literally the tanks are made in Australia and shipped with Australian rainwater in them).

These tanks act as ballast, keeping the tower stable in high winds. On stormy days, the tower can swing up to 3.3 feet (1 m) at the top, creating a rocking sensation similar to being on a boat in the ocean.

To carry out repair and maintenance work, the engineers working there often have to scale the entire tower from base to apex up the stairs, and are meticulous about timing their ascents.

Josh says his best time is 19 minutes, but reveals that another of the technicians can climb to the top in just nine minutes.

At the top of the tower, there is a red light. With the wind whirling around me, I raise my hand and touch the beacon, which is officially the highest point in Brighton. After enjoying the beautiful views, it is time to make the descent.

It’s significantly less stressful on the way back, but the final leg triggers another nervous breakdown.

However, my nerves instantly calm down when we go back inside the capsule, when I am handed a glass of Nyetimber sparkling wine to celebrate.

As the capsule floats down, Brighton grows larger before me, no longer a bird’s eye view, but larger than life. I enjoyed every minute of climbing and feel like I’ve even overcome the fear of heights that I didn’t know I had.

TRAVEL FACTS

The British Airways i360 Tower Top Climb costs £ 99 and is open only to ages 12 and up. Tickets include the BA i360 capsule flight, the tower climb, a selection of photos taken during the experience, and a drink from the Nyetimber Sky Bar. The i360 tower top climbs run Thursday through Sunday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. 9.30 m. For more information visit britishairwaysi360.com.

The Holiday Inn Brighton – Seafront Hotel is directly opposite the British Airways i360 Observation Tower. Double rooms start at £ 96. For more information, call 0333 320 9324 or visit hibrighton.com.

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