Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies

On the way home after this, the first part of our odyssey, we paused at Falkirk to take in the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel, both enormous, very impressive structures of "proper" engineering.  Both different and both beautiful in their own way.

The Kelpies 

So, the Kelpies.  Here's one of the (many) publicity photographs that are available on-line. They're huge - 30 metres or so high and while they look like horses heads, they're actually shape-shifting mythological beasts that normally appear as horses but can also take on human form.  Kelpie stories abound in Scotland and some say that the Loch Ness Monster is actually a Kelpie.  

Here is an example of their shape-shifting abilities - the picture on the left is "The Kelpie" by Herbert James Draper (1913)!  That's quite a shape-shift!  There's connections here with mermaids and Homer's Sirens of the sea.  Whatever, the sculptures near Falkirk set the mind going and are a real conversation piece.

These ones guard the eastern entrance to a new extension of the Forth & Clyde canal and the visitor centre says that they are "a monument to the horse powered heritage across Scotland".  They really are impressive close up.
The M9 motorway goes right passed them as it bypasses Falkirk between Stirling and Edinburgh and you'd think that you'd get a good view of them from the road ... but you can't because the "powers that be" decided to construct (badly) a horrible concrete wall between the road and the sculpture.  Here's the view you get!  What a shame and what a contrast to something like the Angel of the North which is clearly visible from the A1 as you drive passed.

The Falkirk Wheel

This is the really, really impressive means of getting canal boats from The Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal 35 metres above it.  The wheel itself takes the boat the first 24 metres with locks going the rest of the way.  It does a similar job to the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire, but uses a completely different engineering solution.

In this picture, you can see the wheel itself at the end of the aqueduct at the top right of the picture.  It's not really a wheel, more like a kind of figure of eight with a trough on gimbals at each end where the boats go.  The basin at the bottom allows boats and barges to rest, wait and get themselves into the correct orientation.  The kind of taco-shaped building is the visitor centre which really is worth a visit.  There's good car parking, an easy walk through to the wheel, no entrance fee - you just wander about.  You can pay to go on a boat trip through a full cycle of the lift, but you don't have to.  And they do a very good cup of tea.  It's really worth a look because the engineering is magnificent - as the ends swing down, they really do look as though they're going to collide with the ground - they don't look like they'll fit in their troughs ... but they do.

We really enjoyed this visit and we'll be back!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Cabarfeidh Hotel (our Tripadvisor review)

This is what we said on Tripadvisor about our stay: