Scotland // Central Scotland //

The Falkirk Wheel

The town of FALKIRK has a good deal of visible history, going right back to the remains of the Roman Antonine Wall. A massive transformation came in the eighteenth century with the construction of canals connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh; within a few years, however, the trains arrived, and the canals gradually fell into disuse. While Falkirk’s canals were a very visible sign of the area’s industrial heritage, it was only recently that their leisure potential was realized, thanks to British Waterway’s £84.5 million Millennium Link project to restore them and re-establish a navigable link between east and west coasts.

The icon of this project is the remarkable Falkirk Wheel. The giant grey wheel, the world’s first rotating boat-lift, scoops boats in two giant buckets, or caissons, and moves them the 79ft between the levels of the Forth & Clyde and Union canals linked to Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively. Beneath the wheel, the visitor centre sells tickets for a one hour boat trip from the lower basin into the wheel, along the Union Canal, and back again. If you want to simply see the wheel in action, walk around the basin and adjoining towpaths.