The Kelpies: the mane attraction at The Helix

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Just imagine this: travelling along an unremarkable section of motorway, when, seemingly out of nowhere, two gigantic, glinting horse heads, stretching almost a hundred feet high, rise up in front of you.

If you have not yet seen them from the M9, then let me tell you about these structures, straight from the horse’s mouth. They are The Kelpies, designed by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, are the largest pair of equine sculptures in the world.

The Kelpies are feats of engineering, each made with 300 tonnes of structural steel, and are monumental tributes to the horse power heritage that was vital to the early industries of central Scotland.

It’s been a project that I have observed since construction began. I’ve travelled between Edinburgh and Stirling many times during the last few months, and the highlight of each journey has undoubtedly been when I’ve laid eyes on these evolving, steely steeds.

I’ve seen the huge metal frames emerge from the ground and transform into the shape of horses’ heads. More recently, the careful construction of the stainless steel ‘skin’ panels have slowly but surely brought these sculptures to life; the effect of this cladding is so that The Kelpies look solid and strong while at the same time appearing porous and fluid.

These two incredible sculptures are the centre piece of Scotland’ s newest parkland The Helix, which lies between Falkirk and Grangemouth in the Forth Valley. This recreational space, which has 27 km of pathways to discover, opened in September, but the hard work is on-going to get the entire Helix project complete by summer 2014.

Towering above the Forth & Clyde Canal, The Kelpies themselves have now taken shape and work should be accomplished by the end of November. Work continues on the part of The Helix which will be known as The Kelpies Hub with its visitor centre, parking and access currently in development.

South of The Kelpies Hub, a children’s’ play area and café will be situated by the Lagoon, both of which are due to open in 2014. It’s bound to be the perfect spot to let the kids blow off steam while you relax at the water’s edge with a book!

If you can’t wait until next year to see The Kelpies with your own eyes, you can head to The Helix and admire them from the canal bank on the opposite side of the sculptures. Why not make a day of it and plan a cycle through some of the tracks of the 350 hectare site, or check out other attractions in and around Stirling and the Forth Valley region?

Amy Robertson

Amy is media executive at VisitScotland and has previously worked in the Visitor Information Centre in Oban. Hailing from the west coast of Scotland, she likes music festivals, coastal walks, whisky and coal fires.

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