Down to the Kelpies – 28th May 2022

Now that we are back on the Forth and Clyde again, we headed north east to a location known as the Kelpies.

So we set off from the junction of the two canals at 10.00am to meet with our volunteer lock crew from the Canal and River Trust. There were 13 locks to navigate through today and the Scottish Waterways says that all locks are to be manned and not done by the boaters. This is a totally different scenario than in England where you fend for yourself.

Our team lead was Dan, better known as Sinbad! He told us that his kilt was called an industrial kilt with lots of different pockets to squirrel stuff away in. He had a team of six volunteers who were all cheerful, helpful, knowledgeable and a lot of fun to have around. Two of the volunteers were young men who obviously had learning difficulties but had been working for five years on the locks.

They split into two teams of three and leaped frogged from lock to lock setting them all up in advance. As we progressed down the canal the locks got further spaced apart and it then dawned upon us why they all had bikes. They escorted us down the entire length of the canal and it took us 2.5 hours.

On the final lock, we were met by a wall of gongoozlers (a gongoozler is a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the United Kingdom.) As we exited the last lock, the crowd broke into cheering and clapping – we aren’t too sure if it was because a female was driving the boat (Di) or for the volunteers – one might hope it was for the volunteers.

The reason for us coming along this short part of the canal is fully explained below in the photo.

These magnificent structures are called The Kelpies. When you first see them, they take your breath away. The scale is mind boggling.

Built of structural steel with a stainless steel cladding, The Kelpies are 30 metres high and weigh 300 tonnes each. Construction began in June 2013 and was complete by October 2013. The Kelpies are positioned either side of a specially constructed lock and basin, part of the redeveloped Kelpies Hub. The forms are inspired by Clydesdale (draught) horses.

The Kelpies name reflected the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of ten horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland’s inland waterways. 

Fraser felt that he would befriend them by feeding Duke a carot. The horse with his head bent is called Duke and the horse with his head rearing up is called Baron.

The names Duke and Baron come from the two Clydesdale horses that the figures were modelled on.

The light show of the Kelpies at night was mind blowing!! We overnighted in the basin with a planned return up the canal tomorrow.


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