The Falkirk Wheel Scotland

the falkirk wheel scotland workingIt was while driving on a trip north from Ayrshire that we stoped to visit the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland.


Planing to spend a few days in Aberfeldy Perth and Kinross, we were looking for something else to do break up the journey.

The Falkirk Wheel came to mind as this would be a first for our daughter and grandchild. My wife and I had visited this fantastic structure with its ability to lift boats up to the higher-level canal before but only for a short stay.

The Kid Needs to Know – What is a Boat Lift

Image answers the question to what is a boat liftWell you know what little ears are like. Our conversation about the boat lift, spiked our granddaughter’s imagination and a flow of questions followed.

Like so many children of her age she needed to understand exactly what a boat lifts was. With questions like. “Was it like a big giant hand that grasped the boat and lifted it out of the water”?

“Did the people not fall out of the boat”?

In the car with the kid were her mother, her gran and me (papa) and between us we came up with a couple of explanations. Probably not in depth but certainly more realistic than a big giant hand.

Among our explanations were that. the Falkirk Wheel boat lift was used to raise boats from one level of water to a higher level.

And the fact that it was a rotating lift, rather than the more common vertical lifting types.

As you can imagine, our explanations put an end to any more questions about boat lifts, as the youngster took a nap.

The Falkirk Wheel Scotland For Those Less Sleepy

The Falkirk Wheel, the first and only rotating boat lift, was opened in 2002, with the purpose of connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.

The previous method of joining both canals to allow vessels to navigate coast to coast through the central belt of Scotland was to use a flight of eleven locks.

These were removed in 1933. Many private pleasure boats use the Falkirk Wheel on the journey traveling East to West and vice versa using their licence permits.

There is a spacious visitors’ centre at the site where boat trips can be purchased.

This lets you experience the action of the wheel lift the same as over a million visitors have already done.

one of the caissons that carry the boats

One of the Two Caissons

The gondolas that carry the boats up and down to connect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal are referred to as Caissons. They can carry 4 canal boats of around 60 feet long.

There are lots of marvellous engineering information available about the wheel for visitors to learn. But there is one interesting statistic in particular that sticks in my mind during our visit, which is:

That it only takes about the same amount of electricity as boiling eight normal household kettles of water to raise the wheel to the top level.

The Falkirk Wheel and Kelpies for an Interesting Day Out

falkirk wheel and kelpies in central scotlandIf you find yourself in the central belt of Scotland and looking for something to pass the day then the Falkirk wheel coupled with a visit to see the 30 metres high equine structures named the Kelpies, would do the job very well.

Both sites are easily reached from Edinburgh with the distance of around 25 miles, from Glasgow 20 miles and Stirling 16 miles.

The distance from the Falkirk Wheel to the Kelpies is only 4.7 miles.

Apart from our visits to the wheel and the Kelpies, during this couple of days break we also visited: Duncarron Medieval Village, The Scottish Crannock Centre and the fantastic walk up The Birks of Aberfeldy.

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