The Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies

Wednesday, half way through the working week and what I’ve decided is going to be my catch up day. Nine months on the road gives you a lot of material to work with! So here’s one from May this year…

If you’re ever passing between Glasgow and Edinburgh you would be wise to take a detour to Falkirk. Just a short distance apart along the canal are two highly successful regeneration sites which are more than worth a visit. On our meandering way north towards Stirling we decided to take a look.

Our first stop was the Falkirk Wheel, a landmark engineering project built to move canal boats from the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal. It is the only boat lift of it’s kind in the world and an awesome sight, both eminently practical and weirdly beautiful.

The Falkirk Wheel and visitors centre. An inspiring engineering project led by British Waterways.

After a waterside lunch in the cafe, the giant arms of the wheel towering above us, we decided to cycle along the Forth and Clyde Canal to see the second spectacle of the day,  The Kelpies.

The day was warm with a gentle breeze and the four mile towpath was framed by fragrant may flowers, cowslips and red campion. After passing through a relatively urban landscape the path opens up into fields of rippling grasses and suddenly you have your first sight of the sculptures. Their sheer size is almost difficult to process. They are vast, incongruous and truly beautiful.

The first sight of these fascinating sculptures from the canal towpath. The sheer scale of them is hard at first to process, the flat landscape only heightening their impact.
View from the canal bridge
The Kelpie is the name given to shape-shifting water spirits in Scottish mythology. Usually appearing as a horse, they are said to inhabit many a loch or deep pool.
According to sculptor Andy Scott, “The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures.” 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” (wikipedia)

Horse from Black Loch

After reading about The Kelpies, I realised one of my favourite childhood books was inspired by this Scottish myth. The Horse from Black Loch by Patricia Leitch.