the kelpies at night, the helix, equine sculpture falkirk scotland

If you are a horse lover and you are traveling in Scotland, you must visit The Kelpies. The Kelpies are the highest and largest equine sculptures in the world and they are stunning. I’ve put together The Kelpies essential guide in Scotland. Here you will learn how Scottish sculptor Andy Scott created his equine works of art that soar 100 feet (30 metres) into the sky, the role the horse played in Scotland and how to tour The Kelpies at The Helix.

Visit Falkirk

Twenty three miles north-west of Edinburgh and 20 miles north-east of Glasgow lies Falkirk, a large town in the county of Stirlingshire. Before The Kelpies arrived, the town was more of a way point between two hip cities in Scotland. It is home to the Falkirk Wheel, Blackness Castle, railways and The Dunmore Pineapple, but the Kelpies at The Helix Park are the staring attractions in Falkirk.

Helix Park is a recreational space for families and adults to play, and walk around the large lagoon. They serve homemade cakes, shortbread and food at the Visitor Center with a wonderful view of the Kelpies. They also have a gift shop featuring equestrian gifts for horse lovers and items from Andy Scott’s collection featuring Clydesdale’s Baron and Duke.

 

The Kelpies, water horses, equestrian art

Shape-shifting water horses come to life in Falkirk.

Kelpies mythology

The mythical Kelpie is a shape-shifting “water horse” featured in several Scots myths. In fact, Nessie, the well-known Loch Ness monster is known as a Kelpie. Kelpies have super natural powers and are not to be trusted.

While Scott’s creations are called Kelpies, he took his vision for the equine sculptures from two, real life, Clydesdale horses known as Baron and Duke. My trick for remembering which horse is which is downward Duke and beautiful Baron; Duke’s head looks down, while Baron’s head points to the sky and has a distinct mane looking from the back of his head.

“I see The Kelpies as a personification of local and national equine history, of the lost industries of Scotland” said Kelpies creator Andy Scott. “I also envisage them as a symbol of modern Scotland… They stand testament to the achievements of the past, a tribute to the artisanship and engineering and a proud declaration of intent for the future.”

the kelpies construction, equine sculpture, stainless steel sculpture

The horses are composed of 928 plates of reclaimed British stainless steel. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Larger than life horses

As many of you may know, Clydesdale horses are strong work horses. They were used to plow fields, cart Budweiser beverages and due to their size and strength, they were used to pull horse-drawn barges on the canals. In Falkirk these gentle giants were used in 1786 on the Forth and Clyde Canal, the first canal to run through the area in Scotland.

It took 7 workers 90 days to put together the Kelpies in November of 2013. Using 928 hand-cut steel plates and 34,566 individual pieces in total, the heads of Duke and Baron slowly came to life.

scottish sculptor andy scott, the kelpies models duke and baron, clydesdale horses at falkirk scotland

Sculptor Andy Scott and his Kelpie models Duke and Baron.

How to tour The Kelpies

Tickets are sold at the Visitor Center, however, it’s best to book The Kelpies Tour in advance. The 30 minute guided tour begins at the Visitor Center. Guests are escorted into the sculpture of Duke where the construction of the Kelpies are explained and brought to life.

duke and baron horse sculptures, highest and largest equine sculptures, the kelpies in falkirk scotland

Duke and Baron, with his head raised, leave a lasting impression on visitors to Falkirk. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Need to know:

The Visitors Center at The Kelpies is open 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

There is a charge for parking. The Kelpies are wheelchair accessible.

baron, the kelpies, equine horse sculpture, falkirk scotland horse sculpture

Stainless steel plates curve to form the mane of Baron, one of the equine sculptures. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tips:

No trip to the Keplies is complete without a tour inside the steel horse head sculpture. With advance reservations you’ll be able to step inside Duke’s head with one of the tour guides and learn the story behind these shape shifting water horses. Lay down on the floor and look up to the ceiling. Take a picture of your foot inside a Clydesdale horse shoe. Learn about the Falkirk Society Museum in Santa Rosa, California, as well as the John Muir Way and John Muir’s connection to northern California.

While I didn’t have a chance to go horseback riding in Stirlingshire, I’m told that Hayfield Riding School offers horse treks. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and Visit Falkirk on Instagram.

clydesdale horse shoe, ariat paddock boot, riding boot

Clydesdale horse shoe with my boot inside. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:

The Helix Park 01324 590600

Falkirk, Scotland FK2 7ZT

The Kelpies Essential Guide in Scotland review, YouTube video and all photography, excluding top photo, by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. As is typical in the industry, I received a complimentary media pass, however, all opinions are my own.