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The Kelpies: the mane attraction at The Helix

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The Kelpies by Andy Scott at The HelixJust 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, and they’re the largest pair of equine sculptures in the world.

A sight you won’t forget

The Union Canal next to The Kelpies

Towering above the Forth & Clyde Canal, The Kelpies are a feat of engineering, each made with 300 tonnes of structural steel, and are a monumental tribute to the horse power heritage that was vital to the early industries of central Scotland.

It’s a project which I have observed since construction began. I travelled between Edinburgh and Stirling many times during the course of the build – the highlight of each journey was undoubtedly when I laid eyes on these evolving, steely steeds.

I saw the huge metal frames emerge from the ground and transform into the shape of horses’ heads. The careful construction of the stainless steel ‘skin’ panels 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 appear porous and fluid.

Experience them yourself

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 2013.

The Kelpies Hub is home to a visitor centre with a café, exhibition and gift shop. Should you want to find out more about the story of these metallic beasts, take The Kelpies Tour – you’ll even get to see the sculptures from the inside!

And then try…

Adventure Zone at Helix ParkPop into The Helix Visitor Centre where you’ll find a café, gift shop and exhibition space. South of The Kelpies Hub lies the Adventure Zone and Splash Play – it’s the perfect spot to let the kids blow off steam.

Make a day of it and plan a cycle through some of the tracks of the 350 hectare site, or take to the water and explore the Lagoon by kayak or pedalo.

Or, why not plan a weekend in the region and check out other quirky attractions in the area, such as the Falkirk Wheel and the Dunmore Pineapple or Stirling’s hidden gems?

This blog post was originally published in November 2013 and was updated January 2016.