If you’re planning a holiday in Scotland, don’t overlook the Kelpies, one of its newest attractions. The impressive Scottish Kelpies sculpture is found in the Helix Park just outside Falkirk. The sculpture takes the form of the heads of two Clydesdale horses. At around 30 metres tall, they’re the second largest equine sculpture in the world, after the Genghis Khan monument near Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Approaching from the west along the motorway, the first thing you’ll see is an enormous mouth poking out from the roadside trees. The Kelpies sculpture is a sight that’s hard to ignore.
Scottish Kelpies Sculpture: Artist
Local artist Andy Scott was responsible for their design. His muses were Baron, head up, and Duke, head down, drawn in their entirety in the original sketches to ensure that their form was true to life. Their canalside location was no accident either. The sight of horses pulling barges along the Forth & Clyde canal would have been a common one, a vital element of Scotland’s industrial landscape.
Scottish Kelpies Sculpture: Fantasy World
The Kelpies also draw on Scotland’s fantasy world. The Scottish Kelpies have a reputation for being malevolent creatures, shape-shifters who transform into beautiful black horses to entice humans into their clutches. So the story goes, once people have been captured, those evil Kelpies turn back into water nymphs and drag their prey under the water to certain death. The shallow moat around the sculpture is as much a nod to this mythology as their equine form. Ten people have fallen in so far, but all of them have lived to tell the tale. It’s wise to watch your step, however, if you plan to snap some souvenir photos.
Scotties Kelpies Sculpture: Walking Tour
Something like two million people have visited the Scottish Kelpies sculpture since they opened three years ago. Many of them have taken the excellent walking tour with one of the volunteer guides, whose passion sums up local feeling towards this new attraction. Many here are repeat visitors; this place is as popular with the local community as it is with tourists from far-flung places. During my visit, there were dogs chasing balls, kids on scooters and families out for a stroll along the towpath. It’s the kind of place that’s more than just the sculpture that initially draws you in.
Taking the tour enables you to step inside one of the horses. There’s no facility to climb. However from an interior vantage point, the impressive feat of engineering required to construct the sculptures is most apparent. Each horse’s head is constructed from 464 steel plates, each unique in shape and size. They were manufactured in Sheffield and transported north on 150 lorries. Ninety days later, this giant jigsaw puzzle was complete.
Whether you book a guided tour or simply wander around the Scottish Kelpies sculpture, it’s definitely a place that’s going to stick in your mind once you return home. The Scottish Kelpies are easily accessed from both Glasgow to the west and Edinburgh to the east. You should make sure the Kelpies feature on your next Scottish holiday itinerary!