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Up close with The Kelpies in Scotland


By Spalding Today Columnist


I seem to have a thing for sculptures at the moment. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the artwork we found at Thorpe Meadows in Peterborough and it was interesting to discover your opinions. The large boat located next to the River Nene looked to some readers like bloated cow or a rack of lamb.

Thankfully, there's no confusing the identity of the two figures that make up The Kelpies, an extraordinary piece of art that has been drawing crowds to Falkirk, in Scotland, since it was unveiled in 2014. They are definitely horses.

Designed by Andy Scott to be 'proud equine guardians' of the gateway to the Forth & Clyde canal, they stand at 30m high. To put that into context, Antony Gormley's Angel of the North is 20m and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is 38m.

Scott always visualised the Kelpies as heavy horses, the powerhouses of the industrial revolution. He was also influenced by the Clydesdale horse, Carnera, possibly the largest working horse in the world. At 19 hands, it pulled the wagons for the local drinks company, A.G. Barr, in the 1930s. No wonder they needed strong horses if they were pulling crates of Irn Bru. Made in Scotland. From Girders.

The Kelpies (5723480)
The Kelpies (5723480)

The Kelpies are stunning to look at from afar and when they're lit up in the evening, they take on a mysterious, ethereal glow; frightening the life out of unsuspecting motorists on the M9 motorway.

Close-up, these steel sculptures are just as impressive. Duke, the kelpie that looks down, is more than happy to oblige with a kelpie selfie (kelfie?) whereas his partner, Baron, is above all this nonsense as he tosses his head back in disdain.

Located at The Helix, The Kelpies are part of a land transformation project to regenerate Falkirk and improve waterway connections between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Part funded by lottery money, the project ties in with the incredible Falkirk Wheel, which was built to join the Falkirk & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. Originally 11 locks had to be negotiated and these were dismantled in 1933.

The Kelpies up close (5723482)
The Kelpies up close (5723482)

The Falkirk Wheel is a 35m-high rotating boat lift. The design, by Tony Kettle of architects RMJM, was inspired by a double-headed Celtic spear, the propeller of a ship, the ribcage of a whale and spine of a fish.

If you happen to be visiting Scotland, I'd recommend a trip to both the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies. Both attractions are a testament to British design and engineering and are superb places to take the family. There are visitor centres and cafes at both sites and you can book tours to take a closer look at the sculptures and a ride on the wheel.

The Falkirk Wheel (5723484)
The Falkirk Wheel (5723484)

And if you're driving on the M9 any time soon, make sure you keep your eyes on the road. These mythical beasts are beautiful but bewitching.

You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk



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