Tuesday 17 February 2015

Falkirk - Canal walk

Life has been pretty sedentary since I returned from my trip back home. I was craving to move my muscles but not stretch them either. Falkirk was close by and though I had been planning to visit the Kelpies for a while, it had not materialised for various reasons, maybe mainly because it was close by. The weekend looked nice and sunny, so decided to pack in an itinerary of visiting the Wheel first and then walk by the canal to the Kelpies. 

So on this very cold Sunday of the first day of February, I eventually decided to make my first day trip of 2015. I had been to the Falkirk wheel before but had taken the bus. This time I decided to walk. From Falkirk Grahamston took the Camelon road to Glenfuir road and got on to the Forth and Clyde canal near the lock-gate 13. After this it was a pleasant and picturesque 1.5 miles to the Wheel. Going the other way for about 3 miles would take me to the Helix park so I would be returning this same way. 
Once on the canal towpath it was proper walking route only interrupted by a few icy patches left behind from the recent cold spate. It was a glorious day with a clear sky and crisp air. Witnessed a territorial fight between two pairs of swans reigning the canals.

The Union canal aqueduct towered into the frame over the branches of leaf less trees as I approached the wheel. The Falkirk Wheel is a landmark engineering wonder built during the millennium and links the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde canal by a rotating lift which bridges the 80 feet gap between them. I had been here almost a decade ago on a very busy weekend. Maybe due to the cold and the late afternoon, this major tourist attraction was much quieter today. I had to skip the boat lift last time due to the high rush. Unfortunately my late start today meant I did not have the time for a trip this time either. maybe should have planned my trip beforehand, this would be handy - http://www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk/plan-your-visit 

The lift had now started to rotate, lifting the boat on to the aqueduct to the Union canal. I took some photographs of the rotating wheel before going for my lunch in the restaurant.
Unfortunately I was unable to get the photographs I wanted to as much of the area was blocked by construction. It was already 3:00 pm, so was time to get back on the towpath and on my way to the Helix park. 
About 4.5 miles from the Falkirk Wheel, on the Forth and Clyde canal, the Helix park was opened in 2013. It is an eco-park with its extensive path network it is very popular with walkers, runners, cyclists and kids - http://www.thehelix.co.uk/ 
My interest was the Kelpies - world's largest equine sculpture within the park 

As the lock-gates numbers decreased while I walked, the natural surrounding of the canal started to give way to residential blocks and then eventually on to more industrial parts of the town. 
The canal towpath has been developed alongside the development of the Helix Park and it now provides a 4.5 miles of uninterrupted walk on the towpath. Only a tiny stretch near lock-gate 9 requires leaving the path to cross the railway tracks. 
Dusk was just about setting in as I reached the Kelpies. They stood, glistening in the twilight, reflecting the golden light of the setting sun. The temperature by now had dropped to sub zero and the open park was adding to the chill factor. It wasn't just me who were waiting for the Kelpies to be lighted up. It was freezing and I needed a hot chocolate.
It was impossible to hang around the park for long as temperature dropped faster. So I was soon on my way back. It was uncomfortable to walk in the dark on icy path, but thankfully I was soon on the roads making the final 2 miles trudge back to Grahamston through industrial area - a day well spent.

Total distance walked: about 9 miles (14.5 Kms)
Time taken: Non-standard with innumerable photo stops

For more photos on this trip and other please visit and like the Facebook page Breaking Out Solo

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