Landlubbers often forget how important water is. But visitors to Falkirk and Grangemouth are treated to a very special way of remembering.
The area is home to six very impressive steel sculptures which depict the history of the area and its links with water, with its crowning glory in the shape of two 30 metre high horse heads called The Kelpies.
All designed and made by Glasgow School of Art trained artist Andy Scott, the sculptures are certainly eye catching and a great way of bringing tourists into this lovely part of Scotland.
There is plenty to do and see in this part of the world, but it is important too to have a good place to stay.
The Grange Manor, just outside Grangemouth is an ideal hotel. Housed in a beautiful traditional sandstone building, the hotel is well placed for all the main attractions and has great links to the motorways to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
A warm welcome awaits and the staff really make the hotel, they can’t help enough and my travelling companions Ruaridh (10 ) and Flossie (7) were treated to first class treatment by the ever patient team.
We stayed in the main part of the hotel, the traditional house, kitted out with tasteful décor and lovely large bedrooms and a bed for Flossie to die in, with a look of a four poster and luxury bedding to help all have a good night’s sleep.
The bathroom too is nice and roomy and there is a lovely sitting area to allow all to relax, with tea and coffee facilities on tap.
The hotel has two places to eat, Rosie’s Tearoom serves an afternoon tea to die for, with finger thin sandwiches, scones bursting with jam and cream and for Ruaridh, heaven in the shape of squidgy cakes and meringues. All washed down with speciality teas, it really was a great way to start our stay. The nicely decorated room is all the place for breakfast, with locally sourced food and a good selection of dishes on offer, to set you up for the day.
We also tried out Cook’s Restaurant, which is in the hotel grounds. This serves the more traditional food of fish and chips, steak pie and specialist steaks, with starters featuring the old classics of chicken liver pate and prawn cocktail and puddings including cheesecake and tasty ice cream.
Staff here too are very attentive and it’s a great place to eat, whether it be dinner or a light lunch.
With a full tummy, most people are ready for anything and we decided to burn off a few calories and see The Falkirk Wheel at the same time.
This modern day extension of the Forth and Clyde canal is an engineering masterpiece and Segways are a great way of sight-seeing.
The Scottish Segway is housed in a neat wooden pod and young instructors Aiden and Kara were full of enthusiasm and keen to give us a good time.
Hot wheels Ruaridh and Flossie soon adapted to the fun machine and zoomed off with a more cautious mum trailing behind, using the excuse of checking out the view, to go a bit slower!
The Falkirk Wheel opened in 2002 and is a rotating boat life which connects the Forth and Clyde canal with the Union Canal and was created to help regenerate Scotland’s central canals and reconnect Glasgow with Edinburgh.
The Segway tour gives you a chance to go off road and see the wheel from a different perspective from the normal day trippers.
We had a bumpy and hair raising ride, but it was real fun and now Ruaridh and Flossie have started saving the £6,000 they need to buy one of their own!
Keeping the water theme, we headed to see the nearby Kelpies which sit proudly by the canal in The Helix park, which itself is a wonderful oasis of wetlands, boating lake, and a children’s adventure and splash park.
The Kelpies named after the mythological transforming beasts who possessed the strength and endurance of 100 horses, are a magnificent sight.
Andy Scott had real vision when he created these beautiful sculptures and used real models, Clydesdale horses Duke and Baron, who were based at Pollock Country House in Glasgow.
A special tour gives the history of the sculptures and a chance to have a look inside and see just how wonderful these steel beauties are.
As well as The Kelpies, Scott has created five other sculptures around the area, including a four armed mermaid on the M73, a boy with a fox’s head and an adult and a child bonding together to mark the transformation of the area’s history over the years.
And our favourite, River Spirit, depicting a female figure growing out of a trunk – a magical way of remembering all that water…..
The area around Grangemouth and Falkirk has stunning countryside and plenty of places to see and stay.
Accommodation: Beautiful Grange Manor was built in the late 19th century for the manager of the Earl of Zetland’s local estates. It really is a stunning hotel and retains many of the original features, blending in nicely with the modern additions. It is also in a very handy spot for motorway links to Glasgow and Edinburgh and all the local attractions.
With beautiful gardens too, it is a perfect base. Latest offers include: £79 per couple per night, dinner, bed and breakfast plus a bottle of wine (subject to availability). For more information log onto www.grangemanor.co.uk
Ruaridh, Flossie and I had a fantastic time viewing the mighty Falkirk Wheel from a Segway. It’s a fun way to sightsee. Check out www.ScottishSegway.com, contact@guide@ScottishSegway.com; Facebook: @TheScottishSegwayCentre; Twitter: @ScottishSegway or telephone: 01324 430033.
The Kelpies are a must see attraction. Set in the wonderful Helix Park, the world’s largest equine sculptures are really beautiful. There are tours which take you inside the structures and the park itself is fun to visit. Take a look via www.thehelix.co.uk