One of the lovely things about social media is its ability for us to keep in touch with people. I’m a great user of different social media for different uses, and during this trip I was frequently on Facebook, posting pictures and updating where I was, especially when I was traveling (a quick way to let my husband, family and friends know where I was). As a result of my activity, I met two friends I had not seen for many years, who had spotted my travel plans. It was particularly fun as only one of them is on Facebook, and we were able to surprise the other one by turning up at his place of work, which just happens to be the Falkirk Wheel.
What is the Falkirk Wheel? Well it is the world’s first rotating boatlift, designed to raise or lower boats between two different height canals. Opened in 2002, it is both a fantastic piece of engineering and a work of art. As the Wheel turns (you can hopefully get an idea from the pictures above), water and boats, contained in two large gondolas, are transferred between an aqueduct linking the Union Canal and the Forth & Clyde Canal. It links two of the main canals in Scotland.
On the deck of the barge
View from the deck going through the wheel
I was extremely lucky as my friend works on the boats, and I was able to stand with at the controls so to speak and see quite a different view to the usual tourists. It was a fantastic experience and one of the highlights of my trip to Europe this year. I highly recommend it as a place to go and things to see on any trip to Scotland.
From there, it is a short distance to the newly opened Helix where you can see The Kelpies, magnificant giant sculptures by Andy Scott of horses heads. These 30m high sculptures can be seen from quite a distance and are extremely impressive, both from a distance and close up.
1:10 scale models of the Kelpies models were displayed in New York City from 21st March to 2nd April this year. What is nice about both of these developments, is the use that locals are making of the parkland, cycle lanes and other activities provided. It is not just about encouraging tourism, but also about investing in the area.
While you are in that part of Scotland, you can also take time to see where the Antonine Wall, the “northwest frontier of the Roman Empire” was situated.
And so my trip back to Europe came to an end with a final night with friends in Glasgow. I am now back in Wellington, so normal blog service will be resumed in the next post.