Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Flee the country

After yesterday’s post a number of readers have written to suggest I either love living dangerously or must ensure I never return to Gateshead.  I’ve taken the advice and temporarily fled the country.
Apparently Gateshead is a town in it’s own right and NOT a suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne.  Even at my advanced age I continue to learn!
So here I am north of the border and getting my canal fix by visiting the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies.  This is all new to me and for some reason I thought the two were co-located.  That another thing I got wrong!  The are both approximately midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh but are about 8km apart.  The Forth & Clyde Canal is 35 miles long and links the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde.  It’s an east-west link across the lower part of Scotland.  The Kelpies are at the eastern end. 
The Falkirk Wheel was opened in 2002 replacing what was once a flight of 11 locks that were dismantled in the 1930’s.  It links the higher Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal.  The wheel is at the western end of the canal Union Canal with Edinburgh at the other end. Boats drop down through two locks to approach the wheel over an aqueduct.
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The furthest section of the aqueduct consists of two rotating caissons.  I was fortunate enough to arrive just in time to see a Black Prince hire boat descending.
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The trough is on rollers enabling it to maintain a horizontal plane as the boat lift rotates. As both caissons are full of water they counterbalance each other.
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At the base of the wheel are the statues of the Kelpies.  This is where I became confused after viewing an earlier photo in a magazine.  I thought these were the original statues, however they are only smaller replicas.
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Having descended, the narrowboat has to go through a further lock to reach the Forth & Clyde Canal.
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Every part of the canal network I saw appeared to be in excellent condition and there were also numerous BW Scotland staff on hand to assist.  It all appeared to be well funded and maintained.  A 15 minute drive took me to the far end of the Forth & Clyde Canal where The Kelpies dominate the area.  They are obviously a very popular tourist attraction.
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I took this photo from a distance so you could see the location of the canal and the size of the statues.
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The cladding is stainless steel
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Another thing I hadn’t realised was the canal passes between the statues via a lock.
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Not sure how long it will take for the dust to settle in Gateshead so I’ll probably be out of England for a few more days.

1 comment :

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Crikey mate you are a long way from home! Thanks for the great pictures of the Kelpies and the lock in between, I hd no idea about that either. This is really fun, traveling along vicariously with you as you visit places far away from where we are. Enjoy your travels and give Jan our love when you talk to her.
Jaq and Les xx