Visitors to one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions will now be able to sail in the shadow of giants, thanks to the launch of new passenger boat trips at The Kelpies.
The boat trips, which will see passengers cruise between the colossal horse sculptures along the Forth & Clyde Canal with The Helix, will give the unique opportunity to experience The Kelpies from water. A guided tour on foot inside the majestic monuments to horse-powered heritage will also form part of the trips.
Designed as a monumental gateway to Scotland’s inland waterways, The Kelpies reflect the legacy of the Falkirk and Grangemouth area, where horses once played a key role in canalside industry. The new boat trips will allow visitors to sail between the world’s largest equine sculptures, as intended when they were originally constructed.
From Thursday 21st September, visitors will be able to purchase tickets for their unique boat trip from The Horsebox Café in The Helix. Boat trips will run Thursday to Sunday along the canal.
The Helix, driven by a partnership of Falkirk Council, Scottish Canals and the Central Scotland Green Network Trust, and supported with £25m in National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund along with £480,000 of funding through Sustrans Scotland’s Community Links programme, has transformed 350 hectares of underused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a vibrant parkland, visitor attraction and marine hub with the canal and The Kelpies at its heart. The site is now managed by Falkirk Community Trust on behalf of the partners.
Since The Helix was opened in April 2014, more than 2.5 million visitors from all over the world have stood in the shadow of The Kelpies, taken to its 27km of paths by boot or bike – which form a key part of the National Cycle Network – or watched boats travelling along the new canal. The project has brought renewed vibrancy to the area and boosted the local economy by an estimated £1.5m per year.
Clad in almost 1000 shimmering steel panels, standing the same height as six and a half double decker buses, and weighing more than 600 tonnes, The Kelpies are a monumental addition to the Falkirk and Grangemouth skyline that are estimated to be seen by more than 50 million people per year from the canal, the M9 motorway, and The Helix itself.
Inspiration for The Kelpies came from the heavy horses which pulled boats and cargo along the towpaths of the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals in their heyday. The transport arteries of the Industrial Revolution, the canals and the horses that walked them played a huge role in the development of the area. The sculptures’ name was derived from the mythical Celtic water horses which could transform their shape and which were reputed to have the strength of 10 horses and the endurance of many more.
Originally envisioned as a moving boat lift, during the early design process the notion of The Kelpies changed to monumental sculptures symbolising the industrial past of both the canal and the communities that line its banks. Glasgow-based artist Andy Scott – Scotland’s best-known equine sculptor – transformed The Kelpies from idea to reality, imagining a colossal gateway towering either side of the canal to welcome weary sailors and visitors to the nation’s hospitable shores.
For more information on boat trips at The Kelpies, see www.scottishcanals.co.uk/destinations/the-kelpies/kelpies-boat-trips/