I'm not really a huge fan of heights. Infact, the last time I did something like this was in New Zealand on my gap year where I got caught up in the adventure hype, decided to tick everything off my bucket list in one trip and signed up to bungy jump and sky dive the same week. I was probably the most willing person they've ever had to jump out of the plane on a tandem skydive, but that was based purely on a hatred of planes, and the thought of jumping out of it was better than the thought of staying in it. I try and claim the bungy jump was pretty epic, but if you fish out the dvd hidden safely in a drawer then it becomes quite clear that after the 5th time of being told to jump the guy just loses patience and pushes me off. So loud was my scream, it was picked up perfectly clearly by the cameras positioned across the gorge about 100m away.
So... what a better way to start off Challenge Twelve than a 127m (that's 418ft for you old schoolers) abseil down Northampton Lift Tower. Have I mentioned it also just happens to be the tallest permanent abseil structure IN THE WORLD?!?
Turning off the motorway, I made a joke that maybe that tower in the distance was it. I shouldn't have joked. It was, and it was HUGE. To give you some context, its 30m taller than Big Ben and double the height I bungy jumped.
Armed with a 4 month old puppy to calm my nerves and the bluest of skies making Northampton look quite desirable I was suddenly inside the tower, in a lift, taking me to the top floor. 'Thank God it's an old lift tower' quipped the girl paired up with me whilst I made some joke about wishing we could run up the stairs instead of abseiling down. She laughed. I didn't. I was deadly serious.
One safety briefing later, I was harnessed up and ready to go. Looking for the positives in the situation I'd decided it could be worse. I wasn't having to launch myself off a platform face first, I was actually harnessed in securely unlike when I bungy jumped (that's a whole different story) plus my feet could touch the wall the whole way down. Easy Peasy.
Turns out getting to the bottom wasn't quite as easy as I thought. First you have to ignore that voice in your head asking what on earth you are doing standing on a narrow ledge 127m above the ground and screaming at you to just get down. Then you have to place complete trust in the rope as you lean over the side and start walking your feet over the side. On the plus side, arm day in the gym was taken care of courtesy of the heavy rope and not quite enough body weight to allow the rope to pass through easily. From the photographs the view was also pretty spectacular from the top. I missed this in a desire to not look down and just step over the side as quickly as possible.
Ten minutes later my feet were planted firmly on solid ground, I was alive and still in one piece. My adrenaline levels must have been pumping as I had an urge to go straight back up and do it again. Challenge one complete. Slight fear of heights and edges seemingly conquered.
Just eleven more to go...