Category Archives: Falkirk

Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, Scotland

September 2017

Leaving the Kelpies, we headed for another technological marvel 5 miles away, the Falkirk Wheel. The wheel is a rotating boat lift that connects Forth and Clyde Canal below with the Union Canal above. There are two ways to transport a boat between waterways at two different elevations. A common method is to employ locks, the other is to physically lift the boat from one waterway and place it on to another.

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The Falkirk Wheel from the car park.

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Closer perspective from behind. Those massive gears.

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Boats at the basin of the Falkirk Wheel. This basin is man-made.

The lift is named after the town it resides, Falkirk in central Scotland. The wheel raises boats up 24 metres (79 ft), but the Union Canal is still 11 metres (36 ft) higher than the aqueduct which meets the gondola above. Boats therefore have to pass through a pair of locks to be connected to the Union Canal above. The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world and is regarded as an engineering landmark.

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What the boat trip entails.

The two canals were previously connected by a series of 11 locks that stepped down across a distance of 1.5km. With a 35-metre (115 ft) difference in height, it take most of the day to pass through the 11 locks. Over 1000 people were employed in the construction of the wheel, which has been designed to last for at least 120 years.

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Boats anchored at the Wheel’s basin.

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View of the Falkirk Wheel from the back.

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There are water locks from the basin to Forth and Clyde Canal below.

This is truly an absurd creation. Boats enter one of the Wheel’s gondolas and are lowered or raised, along with the water that they float in, to the basin below or the aqueduct above. It works on the Archimedes principle of displacement. The mass of the boat sailing into the gondola will displace an exactly proportional volume of water so it balances the original total mass. The equal weight allows the gondolas to remain perfectly balanced. The wheel rotates through 180° in 5½ minutes.

A spectacular piece of engineering to watch in action. No fees for entrance but a £3 parking is imposed. For a fee, you might want to try a boat ride that takes you up the canal and back down. Boat trips on the wheel departs approximately once an hour.

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Two boats parked alongside in the gondola at the basin. Gondola rear door closing.

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The gondola being lifted out of the water anti-clockwise.

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Half way through the transfer process.

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Safely connected to the aqueduct above. Front gondola door opens and the boats sail away.

Pictures or videos are worth more than 1,000 words.

The Forth and Clyde Canal connects to the Keplies, then into river Carron and eventually meets the Firth of Forth, the estuary that leads to the North Sea. So theoretically, you can take a boat from the Falkirk basin and sail right up to the North Sea.

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Water play park by the basin. No, you don’t get to play or swim in the basin.

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The children’s water play park.

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The dry park.

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A visitor centre is located on the east side of the lower basin.

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Mini sculptures of the Kelpies at the car park.

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kelpies

The Kelpies, Falkirk, Scotland

September 2017

Right out of Edinburgh airport, the first attraction on our itinerary is a visit the Kelpies located in Falkirk about 19 miles away. The Kelpies are two 30 metre high horse-head sculptures made of stainless steel. Each weighs 300 tons and took only 90 days to erect. They are the largest equine sculptures in the world. After a ½ hour drive, we reached the Kelpies.

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Towering over the greens as seen from the car park.

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Pathway from the car park to the Kelpies.

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Side view of one of the horse’s head from the canal.

The Kelpies is part of ‘The Helix’, a land transformation project to improve the connections between and around 16 communities in Falkirk district. It’s a unique outdoor space that includes woodland, canals, a central park with lagoon and a network of cycle paths, walkways, ‘The Kelpies’ and another piece of engineering marvel, ‘The Falkirk Wheel’ which we will be visiting next.

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The canal along side the Kelpies.

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Vegetation along the canal.

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The fragile vegetation and the stainless steel Kelpies.

The Kelpies is set in a beautiful park standing next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal, and near River Carron. Entrance is free. Parking nearby the sculptures cost £3, otherwise free parking is 15 minutes walk away. The sculptures are a wonderful feat of engineering towering from the ground up. We visited during the day but have read that they are lit at night which would be even more spectacular. Tours are conducted that will take you inside the sculptures at a price, of-course.

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From afar, the grass surrounding the Kelpies.

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Small group of visitors during our visit. Expect large crowd during rest days.

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A sense of dimension with a couple of people standing at it’s base.

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From a different angle.

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The Kelpies are almost surrounded by water.

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Close-up of one of the Kelpies.

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Another close-up view.

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Magnificent piece of art or is it engineering.

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The two horse’s head as seen from inside the cafe.

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