Falkirk Things to Do

  • Visitor Centre, Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, UK.
    Visitor Centre, Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk,...
    by planxty
  • Boat trip, Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, UK.
    Boat trip, Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, UK.
    by planxty
  • View from Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, UK.
    View from Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, UK.
    by planxty

Most Recent Things to Do in Falkirk

  • Drever's Profile Photo

    Falkirk Wheel

    by Drever Written Feb 1, 2014

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    An inspirational sculpture for the 21st Century
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    The Falkirk Wheel is the spectacular centrepiece of the £84.5 million ‘Millennium Link', the U.K.’s largest canal restoration project developed by British Waterways. It reconnects the Union Canal (1822) with the Forth & Clyde Canal (1790), re-establishing coast-to-coast navigation for boats. Sited in a natural open amphitheatre at Rough Castle near Falkirk, this remarkable and elegant mechanical marvel is the only rotating boat lift in the world, and the first boatlift built in the U.K. since 1875. Not only practical, but elegant, the Wheel is an inspirational sculpture for the 21st century.

    The two canals were originally built for industrial purposes. They were meant to transport goods low in value, but heavy in bulk, and grain and meat from the rich farmlands to the industrial cities; they now offer opportunities for leisure. The peaceful slow pace of a boat through a canal has much to recommend it—speaking as an expert, having once hired a barge on the River Avon!

    Navigation from Glasgow to Edinburgh was via an interchange from the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal. This transfer needed a flight of 11 locks. Having navigated my way through locks myself, I can testify that 11 locks would take hours to get through and be exhausting and certainly not a leisure activity.

    The Falkirk Wheel, an engineering and design wonder, solves the problem. The Union Canal was extended horizontally, via a tunnel, to preserve the Antonine Wall built of turf by the Romans and over a viaduct terminating 18m over the Forth & Clyde Canal. All that remained was to design a super doper device to lift a section of the lower canal with the boats still in it to the level of the upper canal—simple really!

    The distinctive visitor centre gives a breathtaking viewpoint of the lift in action. Special ‘trip’ boats take you from the lower basin into the gondola, which closes its lock gates. The Wheel then hoists it to the top basin, where the lock gates open to give access to the Union Canal. A short trip along the canal, followed by the return journey, completes the passage. It provides an unforgettable experience and great 'day out' for all the family.

    The Falkirk Wheel boat lift can carry eight or more boats (600 tonnes) at a time, with a single trip taking about 15 minutes. The 35m high, 1500 tonne machine transports canal barges and other boats through a vertical distance of 18m. Each of the two 25m long gondolas contain at least 250,000 litres of water.

    A system of hydraulic planetary gear units, drives the Wheel and a network of synchronised gears ensures stability of the caissons. As the two gondolas balance each other, the power to drive the wheel is low in relation to the task. For safety reasons the Wheel doesn’t operate if wind speeds exceed Beaufort Force 6.

    Remarkable but true—some of the original design work was done with Lego Bricks.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    A stunning feat of engineering.

    by planxty Updated Jun 17, 2013

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    Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk, UK.
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    As I mentioned in my introduction page, I am sure that Falkirk is a wonderful place with much to offer. My visit, however, was for a very specific reason. Like most people, I had never heard of the Falkirk Wheel. Recently, a friend told me about it and I was instantly fascinated by the concept. I am an unashamedly huge fan of canals and canal boats. I love walking the towpaths on "the Cut" as they are known, and my greatest pleasure is when I am invited by my dear friends to crew on their magnificent boat, Crimson Pirate. One of the best moments of my life involved being allowed to navigate her 70 feet and about 35 ton bulk through the huge Blisworth Tunnel. It was terrifying, malodorous, clautrophobic and noisy but it was the most wonderful fun. Even if not crewing, I have spent many happy days wandering beside canals, one of which one of which runs very near to my home in central London.

    When a friend offered to take me to see this wonder of the modern world, I was obviously smitten by the idea and jumped at the chance. Let me try to explain the idea to you. There are two canals which run fairly close by each other in Falkirk, the Forth & Clyde and the Union. There is a difference in elevation between the two canals of 35 metres which was formerly tackled in the traditional fashion by a flight of 11 locks although regrettably these were dismantled in 1933. This effectively severed a canal link which had been in place for many years.

    In the 1990's, the powers that be decided that the link beween the canals was to be restored as part of a massive regeneration programme and in honour of the Millenium. Rebuilding the locks would have been impossible due to development on the former site and so what was required was some form of boat lift. The result was the absolutely magnificent structure you can see in the images and on the attached website. The Falkirk Wheel, officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 24th May 2002, is the only rotating boat lift in the world and some of the statistics are truly staggering. The whole 1,200 tonne structure was actually built in Derbyshire and then dismantled into 35 lorry loads which made their way to Falkirk where the entire thing was reassembled utilising about 14,000 bolts.

    So how does this incredible thing work? I am not going to even attempt to understand Archimedes principle of displacement but apparently this is the crux of the matter and here is a fairly simple (I hope) explanation of it. The two gondolas contain the same amount of water, so the thing is perfectly balanced. When a boat, of whatever size, goes into either gondola it displaces the same amount of water as it weighs so the weight remains the same. This balance allows the gondolas to rotate through 180 degrees. It really is quite brilliant and here is my favourite statistic of the lot. Because of the perfect balance, each half revolution moving hundreds of tons only requires the same amount of electricity as that needed to boil eight domestic kettles. Now that really is engineering genius as well as being extremely eco-friendly in these days when such things are important.

    So what can the visitor expect if they visit, and I fully recommend they do? Well, park your car in the spacious car park and walk along the canal path and across the bridge to the Visitor Centre. If you are not driving, there is a regular bus service from Falkirk High train station. If you are a canal buff like me, you will want to admire some of the excellent craft moored alongside, but your eye will inevitably be drawn to the magnificent Wheel itself which just gets more and more impressive the closer you get. You may wonder about the assymmetric shape of the arms and you will later find out that there is no engineering reason for them at all. The designers thought they would make the whole structure look like a double headed Scots battle axe. Simply brilliant.

    The Visitor Centre is large and light, one half devoted to a cafe and the other to a small exhibition on the Wheel, the ticket office and the very well-stocked gift shop. You can enter the Centre free and just admire the Wheel but if you are here you really should take the boat trip (details below) which is the absolute highlight. You walk onto one of the large passenger boats and take a seat. On a fairly dismal early weekday in April there were only about a dozen of us and so the crewman dispensed with the public address system and came up to the front to speak to us directly. After a short safety briefing, we were off and sailed into the gondola. The whole experience, which is undoubtedly brilliant, was much improved by the fascinating and very witty commentary provided. If you want to take photos, try to get a window seat. The windows open and you don't have the glass in the way.

    When you get to the top, you exit the gondola and sail a short distance to the winding hole (OK, I'm showing off, that is canal speak for a turning place) with good views of the locks which lead to the upper canal and sail back into the gondola for the return journey down. The entire process takes 50 minutes.

    If you want to make a whole day of it, there are numerous country walks in the area of the wheel, a water activities centre, children's play area and you can even hire bicycles.

    Here, then, are the logistics.

    The Visitor Centre is open every day from 1000 to 1730. Boat trips depart at forty minute intervals from 1030 until 1610. I believe it often gets very crowded, especially during school holidays, so it is advisable to book in advance. You can do it from the webiste provided. The trip costs £8:95 for adults (£7:95 cpncessions), £4:95 for children and under 3's are free.

    Being a relatively new facility, it is excellently equipped for disabled people and this information is taken direct from the website.

    The Falkirk Wheel site is fully accessible for visitors with mobility problems and is wheelchair friendly. If you have a blue badge you are able to park directly outside the Visitor Centre.

    Facilities on-site can be used with ease, and a wheelchair or mobility scooter can also be taken onboard the boat trip (please mention this when booking so we can reduce capacity slightly on-board to allow for a chair).

    We also offer the use of wheelchairs on-site if visitors wish to borrow one free of charge, please just ask at the Reception desk and we will arrange this for you.

    Disabled patrons pay full price which is £8.95 however if accompanied by a carer then the carer goes free.

    The Falkirk Wheel site is fully accessible for visitors with mobility problems and is wheelchair friendly. If you have a blue badge you are able to park directly outside the Visitor Centre.

    Facilities on-site can be used with ease, and a wheelchair or mobility scooter can also be taken onboard the boat trip (please mention this when booking so we can reduce capacity slightly on-board to allow for a chair).

    We also offer the use of wheelchairs on-site if visitors wish to borrow one free of charge, please just ask at the Reception desk and we will arrange this for you.

    Disabled patrons pay full price which is £8.95 however if accompanied by a carer then the carer goes free.

    Only service dogs are allowed on the boat trips and in the visitor centre."

    If you are in Central Scotland, you really should visit this amazing place.

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  • fred98115's Profile Photo

    Antoine Roman Wall

    by fred98115 Written Apr 26, 2011
    Trail leading to the ditch next to wall
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    After visiting the Falkirk Wheel, walk a short trail to the top of the hill and see the Antoine Wall, the remains of a Roman sod wall and ditch that extended from Falkirk to the West Coast. It was the northern terminus of the Roman Empire in the UK. You will see the wall, ditch, the site where the Roamn fort, Rough Castle, was located. The best preserved features are illia, postholes in which pointed stakes were placed to skewer attackers. This is a pleasant walk to an rare site, and can be combined with the visit to Falkirk Wheel for a half-day or full day excursion.

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  • fred98115's Profile Photo

    Falkirk Wheel: canal boats lifted into the sky

    by fred98115 Updated Apr 26, 2011
    General view of wheel from the hill above
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    Engineers will love this attraction. Two Scottish canals, the Forth and Clyde and the Union, intersect here at different elevations of more than one hundred feet. The engineering solution to move canal boats from one to the other was to construct a giant wheel, similar in concept to a Ferris Wheel, which uses Archimedes Principle and counterbalanced weights. You can ride a canal boat and experience the process.

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  • zizkov's Profile Photo

    Big House

    by zizkov Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Callendar House

    Callendar House is set amidst the rolling greensward of Callendar Park, to the southeast of Falkirk town centre. As the blurb puts it 'open the door and explore six hundred years of Scottish history'. The House itself is a big pile that for years no-one really knew what to do with and was, I believe, in danger of demolition, although the surrounding park has long been a popular recreation spot.

    Includes Interpretative areas where (quote from official site) "costumed interpreters create a fascinating insight into the daily tasks and working conditions of a variety of occupations from the late Georgian period."

    Areas are Georgian kitchen, clockmaker's shop, printer, gemeral store, Georgian garden.

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  • gordonilla's Profile Photo

    The Falkirk Wheel

    by gordonilla Written Mar 4, 2008

    This is something recommeneded by my mother - I have yet to visit it, even though it is from my part of Scotland. I understand it is very busy - the 2008 opening hours are shown below:

    1st January - 2nd January 2008 - CLOSED

    3rd January - 6th January 2008 10:00 - 16:30

    7th January - 1st February 2008 - CLOSED DUE TO ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE WORK

    2nd February - 20th March 2008
    Monday - Friday 10:00 - 16:30
    Saturday and Sunday 10:00 - 18:00

    21st March - 31st July 2008
    7 days a week - 09:30 - 18:00

    1st - 31st August 2008
    Monday - Friday 09:30 - 18:00
    Saturday and Sunday 09:30 - 19:00

    1st September - 31st October 2008
    7 days a week - 09:30 - 18:00

    1st November - 31st December 2008

    TBC

    Admission to the Visitor Centre is free. Special events such as The Scottish Boat Show may incur an admission charge

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  • dila's Profile Photo

    The Falkirk Wheel

    by dila Written Nov 3, 2007

    Think it is more intresting for people who like engeering. the wheel is impressing but the boattrip was very short. other thing was it was raining. from the parking place it is i think 10 minutes walk depends where you park. so that makes you soaking wet.
    probably this place would be a lot nicer when the sun shines.

    opening times 2007
    3rd feb - 31 march mon-fri 10-16.30 sat/sun 10-18
    1 april 31 october 9.30 1800 in august open till 1900 on sat and sunday.
    adults 8 pounds

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  • stevezero's Profile Photo

    Old Parish Church

    by stevezero Written Sep 13, 2005

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    Falkirk Old Parish Church

    The first church on this site, probably dates from the 7th Century. The square tower dates from a building around 1450. An octaconal tower was added in 1733. The main church was reconstructed in 1811. the lower part of the church contained the burial ground of the Livingston family of nearby Callendar House.

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    The Steeple

    by stevezero Written Sep 13, 2005

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    Falkirk Steeple

    The present steeple is the third structure to grace this site. The first was built in the 16th Century. Its replacement lasted until 1803, which was demolished due to subsidence.
    The present steeple was completed in 1814 at a cost of £1460. It was built from local sandstone and stands about 42 m high. A top section had to be replaced when it was struck by lightening in 1927.
    The steeple housed the town jail, and two cells can still be found on the upper levels, which is accessed by a narrow spiral staircase.

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    Callendar House - Antonine Wall

    by stevezero Written Sep 12, 2005

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    Callendar House - Antonine Wall

    Callendar House Park, also contains sections of ditch of the Antonine Wall. Built by the Romans in AD 138, it originally stretched from thr Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde. Stretcges of the wall can also be seen in other places.

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    Callendar House - the Georgian Kitchen

    by stevezero Written Sep 12, 2005

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    Callendar House - the Georgian Kitchen

    It is a great surprise when you enter the door marked "kitchen" to be greeted by the cook, who guides you through her daily chores, just as they were 200 years ago. You are given demonstrations of the kitchen's exhibits, and invited to taste the days cooking. When we were there it was jam tarts, and very nice and home madew they ere too!.

    And all this for free.......

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    Callendar House

    by stevezero Written Sep 12, 2005

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    Callendar House

    Callendar House has played a major part in Scottish history over the years and is probably now the second most visited place in Fa.lkirk. It is a magnificent building modelled on a French chateau. A castle has been on the site since the 13thcentury.
    The house was built by the great industrialist William Forbes in 1783 , and whose descendants lived here for close on 200 years.
    It has now been restored by the council as a museum nad heritage centre. It has also various working exhibits.

    Admisssion Free
    (worth every penny!)

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    The Falkirk Wheel - Alternative Cruise

    by stevezero Written Sep 12, 2005

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    The Falkirk Wheel - Alternative Cruise

    An alterantive trip via the falkirk Wheel is offered by a narrow boat. It i cludes an extra set of lcoks and costs £9.00 - probably better value than from the visitor centre actually.
    the boat is moored on the Forth and Clyde canal just as you walk up from the main car park. Minimum passenger numbers apply.

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    The Falkirk Wheel - Visitor Centre

    by stevezero Written Sep 12, 2005

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    The Falkirk Wheel - Visitor Centre

    The Visitor Centre (right in photo) provides visitor access to the Falkirk Wheel. Admission is free and you get great views of the wheel and of ascending and descending boats, It is hard to resist the temptation to take a boat trip yourself though!

    The visitor centre also has a shop, selling all manner of thngs to do with the wheel and other transport memorabelia, There is also a working model of the wheel and an audio visual preentation.

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    The Falkirk Wheel

    by stevezero Updated Sep 12, 2005

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    The Falkirk Wheel

    The Falkirk Wheel has quickly become on e of Scpotlad's leading visitor attractions. It was biult to be functional as well as unique in the world. It serves to lift canal boats from the Forth and Clyde Canal some 40 metres to the level of the Union Canal, thus linking two of Scotland's greatest naviagable waterways. This piece of engineering replaces the need for 11 locks and thus saves much time for tadays leisure traveller.
    There are other boat lifts in the world, but nothing on this scale, or mode of operation, i.e. a rotating gondola type.
    The wheel can be viewed or free, but what better way to experience it than to take a ride on one of the tour boats from one level to the other. You are lifted gradually and silently in your boat, surrounding water and all, to the higher level, experiencing great views and marvelling at the engineering involved.

    No cheap at £8.00 per person, but highly recommended.

    Opening Hours:
    Open all year, 9.00am to 5.00pm daily.

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