Thursday 30 July 2020

5 tips for the Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique piece of engineering as it is the only rotating boat lift (of its kind) in the world. The Wheel opened in 2002 to connect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It lifts boats up 24 metres and then locks allow the last 11 metres to be covered:

Falkirk Wheel

With the current pandemic there are more restrictions so here are my top tips:

  1. You must book online in advance as boats are running at 1/3 capacity.
  2. Choose a dry day when possible as there is a lot to explore on the site, plus the boat windows won't steam up as much!
  3. Food is limited so bring snacks.
  4. Bikes could be useful to get you to the Kelpies 4 miles away.
  5. Take your parking ticket to the centre to pay (£3) before returning to the car.
Our drive to the wheel was just over an hour so we allowed time to get a coffee before our trip. This meant that we also got to watch the previous trip boat go up and down on the wheel. To keep everyone safe boarding procedures meant that we had to go on as our group and then get seated spread across the cabin. They had also turned off the air system which normally keeps the windows clear:

Falkirk Wheel

We were aboard the Archimedes, named after the man whose discovery enables the wheel to function. The boat sailed into the cradle and then slowly rotated to the top:

The cradle docks onto the top of the structure and then a gate drops to allow water to flow between canal and cradle.  Then the boat sails over the elevated section of the canal:

A tunnel has been carefully dug through the hillside. Above it are roman remains from the Antonine Wall and below it are old mine workings. We passed through and then turned before reaching the locks to head back down:

The boat then reversed its ride by going back down to the lower canal basin. We then walked around to get another look at the wheel and canal:

My mum and I walked along a bit further to try to get to the roman fort and parts of the Antonine Wall but got too wet so headed back to the car. It turned out we had got really close... oh well next time! This is a taste of the video footage I took (hard to film in the condensation coated cabin):

After our visit we drove off to see the Kelpies..

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