Jess, aged 14, writes: As someone who is interested in technology and engineering, I was very excited to visit Falkirk with my Grandma, her friend, and my uncle. Falkirk is a town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland and is just over 20 miles north-east of Glasgow, making it perfect for a day trip. We had two things we wanted to do in the day: visit the Kelpies (the world’s largest equine sculptures) and the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift. For someone interested in mechanics, the day was a treat – both attractions were incredible, and there was lots to do nearby.
The first place we visited on our trip was the Falkirk Wheel. This is a giant boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal in the most spectacular way – the wheel’s gondolas rotate, lifting boats 35 metres up in the air. I was amazed by how quiet the machine was, and how simple it seemed (obviously, this is not the case: the wheel cost £84.5m, and took years to finish).
It was all good and well to admire the wheel, but I wanted to try it out for myself. My uncle and I took a fifty minute boat trip from the Visitor Centre, up the Wheel, and onto the Union Canal, which was a really cool experience. The boat was spacious, had large windows, and had a very nice man who was telling us about the wheel. It was amazing for the boat to be slowly lifted into the air, and the views underneath us were gorgeous. I found it fascinating to see such a marvel of engineering in action.
Next, we were shown a video about the history of the two canals we had been travelling on. We went through a dark tunnel, but I hardly noticed as I was engrossed in learning about the Wheel. I was amazed that the Wheel carries over 600 tonnes of water at a time, and that it can hold up eight boats!
Even though it was fifty minutes long, the tour seemed to go really quickly. Soon, my uncle and I departed the boat, just in time for a quick picnic and a trip to the gift shop. There were loads of activities for the children and space to run around, and I liked running on some interactive gears to make them spin.
However, the highlight of our trip to the wheel had to be going zorbing on the lake. I stood inside a giant inflatable bubble, was pushed into the water, and had to try to stand up. Needless to say, most of the time I spent in the ball was on the floor, but I really enjoyed it and must have spent at least ten minutes in there.
Next, it was time to visit the Kelpies in Helix Park. We drove for about five minutes, parked, and then walked for about ten minutes to get there, and I was astounded. The Kelpies are two gigantic horse-head sculptures, and are absolutely stunning. They were so big and beautiful, and I couldn’t comprehend how they had been built! Later, I discovered that they are the largest art pieces in Scotland.
We opted out of taking a guided tour around the Kelpies, and instead decided to have a walk around the park. It is absolutely massive, with lots to see and do. I spent ages on the kids’ playground with climbing frames and slides (it’s not so often I do this as I usually tower over all of the other children), enjoyed a walk through the vast expanses of grass, and bought a delicious (and well-priced) cake from the cafe. There was more we could have done too – there were lots of gorgeous cycling routes, pedalo boats, kayaks, canoes, and fountains to wade around in.
Overall, I had a really great day discovering Falkirk. Both the Wheel and the Kelpies were absolutely incredible, and there was a lot to do. The area was gorgeous, and it would be great for adults and kids alike. If you are in Glasgow or Edinburgh with time to spare, I definitely recommend visiting.
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