Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel

An inspiring tribute to the canals and to the ingenuity of British Engineering, The Falkirk Wheel  links together the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals.

Waterways and canals have seen a renowned interest in them, a renaissance in their role of communication. 

Today’s canals bear the essence of our industrial heritage while rendering the fruits of years of work and progress: 

Canals thrive with life, they are at the centre of people seeking outdoors activities, developers have found canals to increase property value and a there is a happy community of people who live in the canals. Some have made it their way of life, and people from all walks of life have joined this peculiar community of boat dwellers.

The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and one of two working boat lifts in the United Kingdom.

The Falkirk Wheel, rotating.

A  21st century engineering marvel, takes its name from the nearby city of Falkirk.

In 2002, the world’s first and only rotating boat lift was opened by Her Majesty, The Queen, and more than 5.5million visitors have taken a trip to visit The Wheel since it opened.

Before the wheel these two canals were linked by a staircase of 11 locks which took nearly a day to transit. These were dismantled in 1933.

Entrance to the visitor centre is free, and inside you will find a range of background material on the Millennium Link and on the Falkirk Wheel itself. 

You will also find a large shop and a cafe selling a range of good value food.

And while some will enjoy just watching the wheel and having a break at the visitor centre, it’s the actual workings of the wheel that attracts many visitors, with its 35m or 115ft high, the height of eight double-decker buses, each gondola contains 300 tonnes of water, meaning that the wheel moves 600 tonnes on each lift, and because the gondolas are always in balance (because boats displace their own weight of water) moving them takes surprisingly little power. Up to eight boats can be carried at any one time.

To get the full experience of the wheel, it is recommended that you board your hour long trip in front of the Visitor Centre before being lifted in the wheel to the length of canal through Roughcastle Tunnel. Beyond the tunnel your boat turns, before returning through it and descending via the wheel. 

Advance booking of boat trips is highly recommended. 

The Falkirk Wheel is the epicentre for a lot of activities associated with the canals and the big net of towpaths, paths and parkland. 

With activities for children like waterwalking, or enjoying a ride by the canal bank, or be it a trip on a boat, the Falkirk Wheel has something for everybody. 

If you want to dig deeper in history, you are also ideally located to explore footpaths from the Falkirk Wheel that will take you a little over half a mile to Rough Castle Roman Fort, complete with one of the best preserved stretches of the Antonine Wall.


On the way back, we will get to see the impressive Kelpies, famous monumental statues celebrating the working horses in Scotland and their relation to the canals and the development of the early industries.

The Kelpies

You can tailor your day trip to best suit your preferences according to your group’s particular requirements. 

A1 Coaches Day Trips.  Just call 01592 713443 or e-mail or visit

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