I have seen many photo’s of the Kelpies and passed them on the motorway often, but its really not the same as walking up to them and enjoying the workmanship of these 30 metre steel sculptures by Andy Scott.
Photo credit Lou Armor@shutterstock
I persuaded my reluctant husband to join me on a Saturday night ‘mystery tour’, offering to drive, (to keep him sweet) and we set off from Edinburgh to Falkirk on the M9, a 45 min journey.
I didn’t really expect much of a reaction from my husband, he is pretty hard to impress, but I was pleasantly surprised as he stopped in stunned silence to take in the incredible beauty of these free public equine sculptures.
(There are two car parks, at night I would drive straight to the closest one, just follow the signs from Helix Park to Kelpies. Once inside Helix Park (do not take the sign for Falkirk wheel, at the last mini roundabout go straight across).
The Kelpies change colours and this night they were red for head and neck cancer awareness. Look out for green on St Patricks Day. (March)
The inspiration for the Kelpies was drawn from a combination of the Clydesdale horses and the mythical Scottish Kelpie, a water creature that had the ability to shift shape. Nessie the Loch Ness monster is an example of a Kelpie.
We stayed for about 40 mins, other people were still arriving and the car park was surprisingly busy for night fall. Keen photographers already had their favourite spots, tripods at the ready. The visitor centre was closed and we were unable to watch the short film about the construction of the Kelpies, but I returned and watched the video a month later. The cafe at the visitor centre has a good selection of food hot and cold and great souvenirs. Children will enjoy the lego display.
I couldn’t recommend visiting the Kelpies highly enough. Go in the day and experience the canals and visitor centre, make a day of it and visit Bo’ness and Kineil Railway.
Book the tour inside the Kelpies as it’s very informative and the guides make it interesting. This is NOT free and you have to pay for a guided tour. It currently costs £7.50. You do not go higher than ground level as it is a hollow structure and is therefore wheelchair accessible. The tours should be booked in advance online or at the visitor centre.
Based in the green space of Falkirk Helix Park, there are plenty of other activities to keep a family and tourists happy.
- The tours are very popular and should be pre booked to avoid disappointment. The Kelpies are open 24 hours a day and in the evening they are lit up, and look amazing. Visitor centre:9.30-5pm.
- Tours of Kelpies: Adults £7.50, children under 5 free and 5-15 years £4. Concessions £6.50. family tickets available. Tel: 01324 590 600
- Wheel chair access: The entire area is completely wheel chair friendly. There are blue badge holder car park spaces in the closest car park. (well done to the planners for making this so accessible).
- Once you have taken lots of photo of the Kelpies and canal, you can pop along to the Falkirk Wheel and let the kids let off steam at the Adventure Zone and Splash Play. Its a great facility and popular place for having picnics. The Lagoon also has water sport activities during the holidays. These can be found at thehelix.co.uk.
Train: from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Falkirk High, taxi quickest way to connect if you have no car. Bus F14 from Falkirk high station to the Kelpies. Check times on First Bus 01324 602200.
- By Car: Driving from Edinburgh take the M9 towards Stirling, exit at junction 5 for Falkirk/Grangemouth, follow brown signs for Kelpies.
- From Glasgow: take the M80 towards Stirling, exit at junction 8 for M876 and join M9. exit at junction 6 for Falkirk and follow brown signs for Kelpies.
Safety: Please remember that the area surrounding the Kelpies has a working canal system and there is water everywhere, quite deep in places. Keep small children in sight at all times and if necessary keep on a wrist lead.
Dogs are welcome to walk around the park and there are plenty of walks and cycle paths. Sensible shoes, hat for rain or sun, sunblock and cagoule recommended, this is Scotland after all.
Further information: Falkirk Stadium Car Park to Plaza Café/Adventure Zone: 0.3 miles. Helix Park Car Park to Plaza Café/Adventure Zone: 0.3 miles .
Parking: There is a small parking fee from March to October, but if you park at the furthest away car par its free and a short walk along boardwalk to the Kelpies.
Car par open daily, from Oct -March parking free. £3 other times of year. Car park closed at 11pm, not re-entering until next morning. (Linlithgow palace photo).
Other interesting things to do around this area, include lunch at Calendar house or Afternoon tea. Visit the Antonine wall, hop on a steam train or visit Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway or Linlithgow Palace. Check out the website if you have Thomas the Tank Engine fans. Bkrailway.co.uk
Enjoy your tour of the Falkirk area, you will find folks very helpful and friendly. If visiting Linlithgow Palace you are a very short drive to Blackness Castle and Hopetoun House, great locations for Outlander fans. To see more of my Scottish photographs click here: Shutterstock
Information correct at time of print, tickets and prices may change in future. If you are in Falkirk, then visit nearby haunted Stirling castle and the stunning Wallace monument. Here is a quick tour of Stirling Castle, any further tips leave below. Many thanks.