The Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Kelpies

Easter Monday: cold, breezy and threatening rain – but we needed to stretch our legs so I suggested walking the stretch of Forth and Clyde Canal between the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel, a return trip of about 8 miles. We’ve visited both before: I haven’t blogged about the wheel, but my previous post about the Kelpies explains what they are and has more pictures, including some taken on a tour inside the heads. I do sound a little grumpy in that post. The Kelpies had only just opened and parking and catering were a problem which new visitor facilities have now solved, so this time we enjoyed coffee and a scone before setting out on our walk.

I have to admit the walk was a little disappointing. We really enjoy tramping the canal banks round Glasgow and feel there is a lot to see. This stretch was largely through industrial estates and the like, and I wouldn’t bother with it again. However, there were a few interesting sights including a series of metal sculptures representing local personalities and trades.

First up was the vinegar bottle – in 1854, McAuley’s Vinegar works stood close by. Vinegar was used as a flavouring and preservative – and to mask bad smells at a time of poor sanitation. The smells at this point were good – the building behind John is an Italian restaurant. It was too soon after our scones for lunch, but we had high hopes of visiting on our return. Unfortunately, as we discovered about 4pm, it closed between 2 and 5 😦

The next sculpture is part of a national artwork project called Local Heroes. Not being from Falkirk, I didn’t recognise Dr Harold Lyon, founder of Strathcarron Hospice in 1981, Reginald Adams who trained numerous Scottish swimming champions, and Robert Barr – although I’ve certainly heard of the latter. Barr’s Soft Drinks are a big thing in Scotland, producing its other national drink, Irn-Bru (made from girders, according to one of its advertising campaigns, and originally called Iron Brew in 1904).

Whisky bottles adorn the banks opposite the old Rosebank Distillery which stopped production in 1993. However, new owners have bought the site and trademark and it seems that a new distillery, but with the same name, will soon be rising like a phoenix from the ashes.

At Lock 16 two pubs faced each other across a large basin where the Union Canal from Edinburgh used to join the Forth and Clyde. Still anticipating out Italian meal, we let them pass.

From here, there was quite a long stretch with nothing much to see until the colourful canal boats suggested we were getting close to the Wheel.

And here it is! The Falkirk Wheel opened in 2002 and links the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals replacing the old link of 11 individual locks, which was dismantled in the 1930s. A boat enters one of the wheel’s gondolas, each of which holds 500,000 litres of water, and the turning of the wheel then lifts it up or down to the level of the other canal. You remain in the correct position at all times, this is not a fairground ride! You can just see a boat emerging in the second picture below.

By this time, the threatening rain was a downpour and we set off back towards the Kelpies, discovering the closed restaurant on the way. There was nothing for it but to take our cold, wet selves home and cook our own dinner!

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk which this week is in my native Northumbria.

81 thoughts on “The Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel

  1. Elaine - I used to be indecisive June 10, 2018 / 03:19

    I think the Kelpies are amazing. My mum and I went to visit not long after they were open to the public and suffered the same lack of decent visitor facilities and parking as you did. It’s good to hear that they have improved now. My mum and I also visited the Falkirk Wheel, not too long after it had opened – maybe a year or so. We thought it was pretty amazing too!


    • Anabel Marsh June 10, 2018 / 06:11

      Yes, I feel they were underprepared when they opened. Both structures are amazing works of engineering in their different ways.


      • Elaine - I used to be indecisive June 10, 2018 / 19:14

        Perhaps they felt it was better to open than not, and that a portacabin for tickets and a snack kiosk for hot drinks was enough to keep us going. We certainly didn’t fancy sitting outside having a coffee the day we visited – it was a bit chilly!


  2. rosemaylily2014 June 4, 2018 / 12:27

    Looks an interesting walk Anabel despite the weather. Hope you managed to quickly cook up something warming afterwards though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 4, 2018 / 18:15

      We did! We were just too wet to enjoy sitting in a restaurant by the end of the walk, so a quick dry out at home, a hot meal and a glass of wine did the trick.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. dunelight June 1, 2018 / 04:24

    Those Kelpies are magnificent, and, after looking up info on the Falkirk Wheel and watching a youtube video on it’s engineering, the Falkirk Wheel is brilliant.
    Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Karen Hume May 31, 2018 / 00:08

    I have a video about the Falkirk Wheel that my aunt brought over from Scotland. I hadn’t bothered to watch it, but now I will.
    Hmm, a video in the comfort of my home, or a cold wet walk to see it for real. This time I’m opting for the video.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) May 30, 2018 / 14:55

    I saw the Kelpies and Falkirk Wheel the last time I was in Scotland, but we just drove between them. We weren’t brave enough to walk in the Scottish weather!
    I kind of hate when restaurants close between lunch and dinner. I can understand why, especially if it’s a small family-run place, but I’m not a big lunch eater so I’m definitely ready for dinner by 4 on days when I’m not at work, and if I’m eating in a restaurant, I’d rather go early and beat the crowds. I think mine is probably a minority opinion though…I’m always kind of shocked when I see restaurants hopping at 8 or 9 at night – I get way too hangry to wait that long to eat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh May 30, 2018 / 16:54

      Yes, I’d skip the walk next time. I don’t mind going out for dinner at 7:30 or 8pm if that’s the point of the evening, but if we’re out walking we usually want to eat as soon as we’re finished. When kitchens shut at 2 we’re usually miles away. I don’t think it’s good for tourism.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. maristravels May 30, 2018 / 11:18

    What amazing sculptures. I just love the Kelpies. You are a great PR agent for your area, you’ve filled me full of enthusiasm to get up there and see the sights you’ve blogged about. Not sure if I’m so keen on walking in rain and cold though, I’m very much a fair weather walker – and I do need constant coffees, scones if they are available too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anabel Marsh May 30, 2018 / 13:26

      Yes, I would definitely give the walk a miss but the kelpies and the wheel are easy to drive between, and both have cafes. I’m glad you feel inspired to visit! Give me a shout if you do.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ann Coleman May 29, 2018 / 21:16

    Those sculptures are so interesting! They were worth the walk all by themselves, but I’m sorry the restaurant you were hoping to eat at was closed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh May 29, 2018 / 22:33

      I think everything, including our mood, would have been a lot better in the sunshine!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Birgit May 29, 2018 / 14:39

    The sculptures are quite neat to see. The last picture of the closed restaurant is actually quite spectacular I think. It looks like a lovely walk although it would be nicer without the downpour

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh May 29, 2018 / 16:31

      It would be MUCH nicer without the downpour! Never mind, we’ve just had a scorching weekend so can’t complain too much.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. RuthsArc May 29, 2018 / 12:31

    Both the kelpies and the wheel are fascinating and we’ve visited a couple of times. The other sculptures look interesting too. Thanks for sharing, Anabel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh May 29, 2018 / 13:33

      Aren’t they? I hope you got better weather than we did (though, to be fair, we’ve been there in sunshine too!)

      Liked by 2 people

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