To be honest, this isn’t my kind of “attraction” and I arrived here by accident, but when I saw the Wheel in action I was glad I came. To my surprise, it was a great day out.
The Falkirk Wheel was completed in 2002 and opened by Her Majesty the Queen. It really is an exceptional feat of engineering, the first rotating boat lift in the world, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.
The Wheel connects Glasgow and Edinburgh by canal, replacing 11 locks across central Scotland, that were abandoned in the 1930’s. I can understand why it was voted one of the top seven waterway structures in the UK. It’s unique in the sense it can carry eight or more boats at a time, scooping them out of the water and depositing them up or down on the waterway between the two cities.
Apparently there was much discussion as to whether this was necessary, but it’s now a tourist attraction which has had a huge impact on the area. It’s success may lead to other developments around the newly renovated canals in the Falkirk area.
The Visitor Centre is easily accessible, with disabled car parking provided.
It offers a magnificent viewpoint from which to see the Wheel in action. There’s also a cafeteria and gift shop, and there is no charge for entrance.
There is also an interesting boat tour with full audio and video support. The trip takes about an hour and provides a better than average day out for all family members.
Tickets for Boat Trips can be booked in the Centre, although it is recommended that you pre-book with the Scottish Canals website.
In addition to the boat trips there are interactive exhibitions in the centre that allow visitors to learn more about the rotating boat lift and the canals, and you won’t have to worry about the kids, they can have a great time in the Irn Bru Fun Factory.
The Wheel is situated in the Tamfourhill area of Falkirk, and served by two railway stations, both a short distance away, although most visitors travel by road, with every approach well signposted from the M8 and M876 motorways. Falkirk is a modern town in the centre of Scotland, easily accessible from both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
There are excellent shopping centres, and the High Street is pedestrian only.
Also in the area is the remnants of the Antonine wall, built between the Firth of Forth and the Clyde to form the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Falkirk’s history has connections with William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots and John Logie Baird.
When dark, the illuminations enhance the Falkirk Wheel’s stature as the third most popular visitor attraction in Scotland, behind only the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and Edinburgh Castle.
I have to admit I enjoyed this day out.
Audio Visual Boat Trip
Audio Walking Tour
Outdoor Play Area
Gift & Souvenir Shop
* Scottish charity – the Seagull Trust, formed in 1978, provides free canal cruising for anyone with a disability. They have four branches located on the Union, Forth & Clyde and Caledonian Canals at: Falkirk, Highland, Kirkintilloch and Ratho. Full details can be found on the bookings page.
More Scottish Attractions :
- Glenmorangie Distillery Tour
- Royal Yacht Britannia
- Glasgow Cathedral
- Melrose Abbey
- Edinburgh’s Royal Mile
- Blair Drummond Safari Park
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, with one of Europe’s great civic art collections is Scotland’s number 1 visitor attraction, and well loved.
Glasgow Science Centre
This science and technology museum was awarded a five star rating in the visitor attraction category by the Scottish Tourist Board, Visit Scotland.
The zoo is a great family day out, with many animals to see and and much to do, with the highlight being the daily penguin parade.