Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, Scotland

Oh Scotland – we love you.

Even on the one day that you rain on us.

We still love you.  We’re just dressed much warmer than usual

On this day, on this particular road trip, we were after the Kelpies (the world’s largest equine sculptures) and the Falkirk Wheel (and engineering marvel).

First, the Kelpies:

The name was chosen by Scottish Canals at the inception of The Helix project, in 2005.[5] The Kelpies name reflected the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland’s inland waterways. The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area.[6]

According to sculptor Andy Scott, “The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures.”[7] He also said that he “took that concept and moved with it towards a more equine and contemporary response, shifting from any mythological references towards a socio-historical monument intended to celebrate the horse’s role in industry and agriculture as well as the obvious association with the canals as tow horses”.[7] In 2008 Scott created three-metre-high miniature versions in his Glasgow studio. These were then scanned by lasers to help the steel fabricators create accurate full-scale components.[8]

According to Scott the end result would be “Water-borne, towering gateways into The Helix, the Forth and Clyde Canal and Scotland, translating the legacy of the area into proud equine guardians”.[9]

During the first year following the opening, nearly 1 million people visited the sculptures.

They are absolutely amazing. Even on a rainy, dreary day – the enormity, the intricacy, the magnitude.  Amazing.   There was a post card and tea towel, and likely a few other things that showed what the horses bodies look like under the water (in theory) – which makes the horse head positioning make complete sense.  I can’t find a picture of this anywhere; fricking-frick.  It was so awesome.  Guess it means another visit.

They’re apparently quite spectacular at night as well.  That will be on the next trip also.


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So on to the Falkirk Wheel.  An amazing engineering feat, which doesn’t sink in until you see it in motion. It was raining and cold – but we stuck it out to see the wheel in motion twice.

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Scotland, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The lift is named after the nearby town of Falkirk in central Scotland. It opened in 2002, reconnecting the two canals for the first time since the 1930s as part of the Millennium Link project.

The plan to regenerate central Scotland‘s canals and reconnect Glasgow with Edinburgh was led by British Waterways with support and funding from seven local authorities, the Scottish Enterprise Network, the European Regional Development Fund, and the Millennium Commission. Planners decided early on to create a dramatic 21st-century landmark structure to reconnect the canals, instead of simply recreating the historic lock flight.

The wheel raises boats by 24 metres (79 ft), but the Union Canal is still 11 metres (36 ft) higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel. Boats must also pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and one of two working boat lifts in the United Kingdom, the other being the Anderton boat lift.

Rides were available – but we didn’t do it. I found it more interesting to watch – to see the whole thing in motion.  Amazing.



One of the only days that it really rained during our entire time in England and Scotland.

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