I have heard a great deal about the Kelpies at Falkirk and took an opportunity to visit them last week. I can assure you I was very impressed they are fantastic, well worth the visit and even more so when you consider all that must have gone into building them.
Firstly they are sighted near that other great feat of engineering and ingenuity the Falkirk Wheel designed to join the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. When one considers that these canals were built to transfer goods and people about before the advent of lorries and suitable roads, you can appreciate the ingenuity and inventiveness of those early Victorians, particularly in designing locks to get the traffic from one level to the next.
These barges were dragged along the canals by horsepower, In the main Clydedales who plodded along the towpath which ran beside the canal. It is therefore very fitting to create a statue of these Clydesdale at the appropriate juncture of canals. They are called Kelpies and stand with a moat around them reflecting that they are as the name suggests water horses, but the name Kelpie can have a different interpretation, which I will come back to later. Each Kelpie is made up of over 18,000 individual components, they stand 30 meters tall and took nine years from conception to opening.
You will appreciate the foresight of all concerned in this massive project which also included raising some £43 million to cover the cost. What an Achievement. In the gift shop on the site there is a children’s book about the original Kelpies which were water monsters.
In the tale children are playing beside a loch when a beautiful white horse appeared and offered to give them a ride in its back, the back growing larger to accommodate them all. When seated the horse was turning to re-enter the loch when a young girl suddenly remembered a tale about water monsters who feasted on children which could take the form of a horse. She also knew that they were terrified of metal and grabbing her brother’s penknife hit the horse with it. The Kelpie shrieked in fright tossing the children off its back before charging back into the loch transforming itself into its original form of a monster water horse.
Well that is the tale of this mythical creature I read in the gift shop, but I can assure you that the Kelpies I saw were as friendly and as unassuming as any Clydesdale horse. They don’t bite and are well worth a visit, and whilst you are there if time permits, it is well worth a trip along to see the Falkirk Wheel. See you next week.