A Trip To ‘The Wheel’

On Friday Grace and I decided to have a day off, and we drove to Falkirk (pronounced ‘fall’ - as in ‘to fall down’ - and ‘kirk’) to see the Falkirk Wheel, a contraption that’s the only one of its kind in the world.

My mother is always keen on a jaunt in the countryside, so we took her along too.

This is what the wheel looks like. Any guesses as to what the heck it is?

Falkirk Wheel

No, it’s not a giant can opener!

Full marks to anyone who guessed it’s a rotating device for lifting canal boats from one level to another.

Recently £86,500,ooo (yes, 86 and a half million pounds!) have been spent on upgrading the canal system from one side of Scotland to the other.

When I was a boy the canal used to be a disgusting place that swallowed old bicycles, refrigerators and small boys with monotonous regularity.

The system was drained and closed for several years, but now it’s been revitalised and is used mainly for the leisure industry.

They plan to have pubs and cafes lining the banks as they do in rural England.

Since boats can’t sail uphill in the canals, they used to have a system of six or seven lock-gates at this point. It took boats over six hours to navigate them.

Now with the Falkirk Wheel the same distance can be navigated in under an hour.

Falkirk Wheel basin

The boats enter one of the ‘gondolas’ in the wheel and are rotated up or down to the next level, at which point they sail out into the canal and go on their merry way.

Because it is such an unusual structure it has become a tourist attraction, and the building at the side is a Visitor Centre.

On the day we visited there seemed to be tourists from everywhere!

This is my wife, Grace, and my Mum as we waited to board one of the boats to have a sail through the wheel and along the canal.

Grace and my Mum!

And this is yours truly, thinking about how much the canal has changed since he was a lad!


Incidentally, the next town to Falkirk is called Bonnybridge. You can see it clearly from the Wheel, and it has two main claims to fame:

* It has the highest percentage of Lottery winners of any town in the UK
* It is the world’s number one hotspot for Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)

Or so they say . . .

The truth is out there!



7 Responses to “A Trip To ‘The Wheel’”

  1. Anne Says:

    ‘Interesting article on the wheel! I must visit sometime soon! I love your blog! Excellent site’!

  2. Frank Says:

    Thanks, Anne. If you’re visiting Scotland (or then again maybe you’re here already!) the Wheel is a must see.

    Edinburgh, too, is worth a visit, although it’s very busy right now with the International Festival.

    Enjoy yourself!


  3. Geraldine Says:

    I have just been introduced to your site and found your article on the wheel very interesting. A trip to Falkirk is on the cards and perhaps a visit to neighbouring town Bonnybridge to try my luck on the lotto, though there may be more chance of seeing flying objects of the farmyard variety than me hitting the jackpot. However, I feel lucky having discovered this site and look forward to further articles.

  4. Frank Says:

    Good luck with the jackpot, Geraldine. You never know! Regarding the UFOs, I’m assured there’s no truth in the rumour they’re seen mainly on Friday and Saturday nights after the pubs close!

    Thanks for your kind words, and I hope you continue to enjoy the site.


  5. Billy-Joe Says:

    Dear Frank.
    What a wonderful site. im hailing from sunny Florida and i have just discovered your amazing website! It gives me a real insight into Scotland and im hoping to visit real soon.
    Well done and i look forward to further blogs

    Billy Joe

    P.s The School you work at looks fun

  6. Frank Says:

    Hi, Billy Joe

    Nice to hear from sunny Florida!

    My wife and I have very pleasant memories of the sun coming up on Daytona Beach, of enjoying an evening meal at the Fisherman’s Wharf in Fort Lauderdale, of the Everglades, of walking for miles along the sands at Sarasota, and, of course, the many attractions of Orlando.

    When the weather is good over here, Scotland is spectacular - the only problem is you can’t RELY on the weather. It can change at any time and when it rains the place becomes grey and miserable!

    Right now we’re enjoying a good spell, which is not unusual in September, and in two weeks we’re off to Texas - so we’re looking forward to seeing another part of your great country.

    Thanks for your nice comments, Billy Joe. Keep logging on and I’ll keep you posted!



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