Scotland is magical place with incredible scenery, wind-swept moors, Highland mountains, Highland coos, lochs, monsters in lochs, castles ruined and castles standing. Some of the cool things, though, are easy to miss as you drive by on your way to more well-known sights. On our first ever trip to Scotland (Sep/Oct 2018) we arrived at Edinburgh Airport, picked up our hire car, and headed west on the M9. Thirty minutes in, we could have had one of those, “Was that a horse?” moments as we zipped past Falkirk on the way to Stirling Castle. Fortunately, we knew to build in a stop to check out The Kelpies!
When we plan a trip, we start with the things we’re aware of and want to see, locate these on a map, and start to build a driving itinerary. Once the main sights are in place, we look for other things along the way that are worth adding to the itinerary. The Kelpies are a perfect example.
Located in The Helix in Falkirk, The Kelpies are visible from the M9 because they are the largest equine statues in the world. It would be a shame just to catch a glimpse of them. The site is very much worth a visit—and the Cafe was a great place to grab lunch and a cup of tea!
While the name Kelpie is taken from the mythological, supernatural shape-shifting creatures also known as water horses (and, by the way, the Loch Ness Monster is also a Kelpie), these steel sculptures were modeled after two Clydesdales, Duke and Baron, in recognition of the horses that would pull barges on the adjacent Forth and Clyde Canal.
The Kelpies were built in 2013 and are considered a symbol of modern Scotland. About 20 miles east of The Kelpies, spanning the Firth of Forth, is another symbol of Scotland: the Forth Bridge.
Like The Kelpies, we worked a stop in to see Forth Bridge on our drive back to Edinburgh from the north. It’s another one of those sights you could easily miss as you drive by. We had programmed a spot on North Queensferry into our GPS that would serve as a good viewing point (without the GPS, we never would have found it).
Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge that opened in 1890. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2016 was voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder. We were greeted by both a beautiful sight and a Scottish cat!
There are many other places in Scotland you can work in between the major sights. Some of these we’ll cover in other blog posts. Others, no doubt, are still waiting to be discovered.
The Kelpies and Forth Bridge, though, have two things in common: they are near major roads going in and out of Edinburgh and they are powerful symbols of Scotland worth stopping for!