The DH and I enjoyed a grand day out last year when we decided to visit The Kelpies near Falkirk.
Created by sculptor Andy Scott, each one weighs over 300 tonnes and at 30 metres high, they are the world’s largest equine statues. They dominate the Helix, a fabulous park by the Forth and Clyde Canal. Apart from The Kelpies there is plenty to do with walks along the towpaths, play areas, a wetland boardwalk, eating places, visitor centre and shop – but it was the Kelpies we had come to see.
We were not disappointed. They are fabulous, absolutely stunning.
Kelpies are mythological water horses or spirits which can change their shape. They haunt rivers and streams. A kelpie can appear as a docile pony but as soon as anyone mounts it he or she is stuck and will be dragged into the river, never to be seen again. Or, it can appear as a young woman to lure young men to their deaths. It can summon up floods and in its horse form it is a strong as ten or more working horses. It’s only weak spot is its bridle. Anyone who can catch hold of the bridle will have control over the kelpie.
Sculptor Andy Scott visualised his Kelpies as monuments to the great working horses and their role in Scotland.
Perhaps he also took for inspiration the Clydesdale horse called Carnera, reputed to be the largest in the world at almost 20 hands high. In the 1930s pulled wagons for the soft drinks company A G Barr who make Scotland’s other national drink, Irn-bru with its famous slogan Made in Scotland From Girders.
In Andy Scott’s own words: “I see The Kelpies as a personification of local and national equine history, of the lost industries of Scotland. I also envisage them as a symbol of modern Scotland – proud and majestic, of the people and the land… As a canal structure they will partner the iconic Falkirk Wheel, and echo its grandeur. They stand testament to the achievements of the past, a tribute to artisanship and engineering and a proud declaration of intent for the future of Scotland.”
We took the tour, led by a young woman from Italy who was passionate about The Kelpies. We even tried to take a selfie.
We were led inside one of the massive structures to let us see the – to me – mind-blowing engineering feat and design. 1200 tonnes of steel-reinforced concrete foundations per head has been used and 928 unique stainless steel skin-plates – and both Kelpies were constructed in 90 days.
Highly recommended! For more information about these magnificent creatures and what else to see and do check out the website: http://www.thehelix.co.uk