The Kelpies – a grand day out

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.


Standing sentinel on the Forth & Clyde Canal

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.

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To give you a sense of the scale – I am the figure in the red coat standing at the foot of one of the majestic Kelpies.

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.”

20170428_143828 (Small)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.


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Inside one of the Kelpies.

Highly recommended! For more information about these magnificent creatures and what else to see and do check out the website:

104 thoughts on “The Kelpies – a grand day out

  1. They are incredible, aren’t they? I went with friends a few years ago, not long after they had been erected. Magnificent. Andy Scott also created Equus and the Briggate Minerva in my old home city of Leeds, so it was not the first time I had seen his work… but to capture the character of a horse on that scale makes the Kelpies just mindblowing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really hadn’t expected them to be so stunning, Sue. I’ve seen a few of Andy Scott’s other work including his heavy horse near Glasgow and Arria. I love all his work but The Kelpies are something else.And they feel alive, don’t they? I’d love to see them when they are lit up at night.


  2. OH, now you’ve done it. The first time I saw a picture of these, I wanted to write everyone I knew in Scotland and ask for more information. They are magnificent, even in photos. I would DEARLY love to see them, and your pics are beautiful And wow, the interior shot is unbelievable. I love the myths I’ve read about kelpies, and one of my favorite books is The Scorpio Races, which deals with water horses, in one version of the legends. These sculptures really speak to me. (Right now, they are saying “Get your behind over here to admire us, before you are so old and pathetic, you can’t make the trip!”) 😀 Thanks for a great post!! Sharing, now.

    Liked by 1 person

      • If I can ever make it happen, I’m holding you to that! 😀 It’s surprising how many of my online friends are from Scotland, or visit there regularly. When I finally get there, I’ll have so much fun meeting everyone face to face, and seeing all the wonderful sights, including these Kelpies. And then there’s that Decaf Coffee Walnut Tablet! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    I just had to share this great post on Mary Smith’s Place, because . . . KELPIES! One of my favorite Celtic myths, gloriously executed in metal, and simply fabulous. This is on my Must See When In Scotland list! Aren’t they fabulous?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those Kelpies are absolutely gorgeous Mary…. brilliant work aren’t they. It was nice to see the photo taken from the inside…. Your photos are great and it sounds like a great day out too. I did know about water horses but I never knew about the bridle…. So thanks for that!


  5. Pingback: An enginnering wonder – The Falkirk Wheel | Mary Smith's Place

  6. The muscles on their face, the smooth cheekbones and expressive eyes, and skin plates have a digital-kind of zigsaw structure which looks mindblowing. It is difficult to believe that it is made of steel, an unyeilding metal.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting and Magnificent Monument!
    This is my first introduction to Scottish mythology. Like Kelpies, Sirens in Greek mythology also lured unsuspecting sea travellers to destruction.

    I love the fact that the sculptors turned a malevolent spirit animal folktale to a tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comments. Sorry it was too wet to stop to see the Kelpies – you’ll just have to come back. I also did a blog post on the Falkirk Wheel. I’m not a boat person nor an engineering person but I did find it fascinating and we were lucky with our timing as several boats were going through.


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