The Kelpies maquettes gallop up Neptune’s Staircase

Scale models of The Kelpies, the world’s largest pair of equine sculptures, will be stabled at Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian Canal ahead of their gallop up the Great Glen to the World Canals Conference in Inverness.

The maquettes will stand in the shadow of Ben Nevis at Neptune’s Staircase – Britain’s longest lock flight – from 30th August until 11th September. The visit will mark the first time the scale models, which have been touring the world helping to promote Scotland and the Falkirk area as a visitor destination, will have paid a visit to the Caledonian Canal. The three-metre-tall sculptures have previously appeared at major events including New York’s Scotland Week, the Grand National and the Ryder Cup.

The colossal, 30-metre-tall Kelpies, which tower over a new section of the historic Forth & Clyde Canal, are the centrepieces of the £43m Helix project. The scheme, driven by a partnership of Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals and supported by an award of £25m from the Big Lottery Fund, 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.

More than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world have stood in the shadow of the sculptures since their unveiling in April 2014, bringing renewed vibrancy and income to the area and boosting the local economy by an estimated £1.5m per year. The site is now co-managed by Falkirk Community Trust and Scottish Canals.

“From Neptune’s Staircase to The Falkirk Wheel, Scotland’s canals have been associated with innovative art and engineering for more than 200 years. The Kelpies are the latest in that long line of ambitious projects fusing art and industry and we’re delighted to welcome the maquettes to the Caledonian Canal for the first time. I’m sure they will delight visitors to Neptune’s Staircase during their time on the banks.”

Richard Millar, Director of Infrastructure at Scottish Canals

Overlooked by Ben Nevis, Neptune’s Staircase is a dramatic eight lock flight situated in the small village of Banavie, just north of Fort William. This amazing feat of engineering raises the canal by 19m (62ft) over a quarter of a mile of continuous masonry and takes around 90 minutes for a boat to travel up or down the locks. Built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, it is the longest staircase lock in Britain.

A colossal engineering endeavour in the vein of Neptune’s Staircase, 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 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.

Notes to Editors

About Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for 251 bridges, 212 buildings, 256 locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and 19 water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day.

The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, Scotland’s canals are now recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year.

For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter

About The Kelpies

The Kelpies is a 30 metre (100ft) high, 300 tonne public artwork in the Falkirk area. The steel structures in the shape of horses heads form the world’s largest equine sculpture.

The Kelpies is the dramatic centrepiece of The Helix, a £43million regeneration project across 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

The Helix project has been funded via a partnership between The Big Lottery Fund, Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals.

The Kelpies creates a gateway into The Helix and the Forth & Clyde canal and is the result of a unique collaboration between the partners and Glasgow-based artist, Andy Scott.

The Kelpies pays homage to the tradition of the working horses of Scotland which used to pull barges along Scotland’s canals and worked in the fields in the area where they now stand.

Since its completion in April 2014, The Kelpies has attracted over 1.5million visitors.

The Kelpies features in a specially created timelapse film celebrating Falkirk on the new website

The Kelpies Maquettes

The Kelpies Maquettes are 3 metre high (10ft) horses heads sculptures hand crafted by renowned Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, which were made as models to create the world’s largest equine sculpture, The Kelpies.

The Maquettes are 1/10th the size of The Kelpies

The Maquettes tour the world helping to promote Scotland and the Falkirk area as a visitor destination, having previously appeared at major events including New York’s Scotland Week, the 2014 Ryder Cup,   the Grand National, the Scottish Cup Final 2015 plus the Edinburgh Festival, the West End Festival plus lots more.

About the World Canals Conference

The biggest event in the international waterways calendar, Inverness joins an illustrious list of past World Canals Conference hosts including the Grand Canal in China, Montreal in Canada and New York in the USA. As well as innovative projects from around the globe, the 2016 World Canals Conference will also celebrate developments along Scotland’s 137-mile waterway network, from the creation of The Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures on the planet – to The Falkirk Wheel’s role as the world’s only rotating boat lift and an iconic tourism destination.

Over 300 business leaders from more than a dozen countries will attend the four-day conference from the 19th – 22nd September, hearing from keynote speakers including Dr Jonathan Chambers, Team Leader in Geophysical Tomography at the British Geographical Survey; Riccardo Marini, Director of Gehl Architects; and Daniel Fabrega, Panama’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. More than 50 presentations and plenary sessions will also be held over the course of the conference.

As well as a range of high profile speakers, the event has also attracted sponsors and partners from around the globe. Red Bull; KLM; Air France; VisitScotland; the Scottish Government; the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design; Sustrans; Linssen Yachts; AECOM; Visit Inverness Loch Ness; Peter Brett Associates; Highland Council; the Inverness Common Good Fund; Scottish Waterways Trust; Rabbie’s Trail Burners; Scottish Segway Centre; Loch Ness Centre; Pickering’s Gin; and the Inverness Business Improvement District have also offered their support for the conference.

More information on the conference can be found at

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