The Union Canal soars in on high, coming to an abrupt end at the Falkirk Wheel.
There used to be a staircase of 11 locks which allowed boats to make their way from the Union Canal to the Forth & Clyde Canal below. It would take a day to battle your way through the watery steps, and the locks gradually fell into disuse. The locks and, therefore, the link between the two canals, were eventually dismantled and removed in 1933.
But now, there is a fast, energy-efficient and intelligent way of transferring from canal to canal. The Falkirk Wheel allows you to relax and spin your way down with little effort.
A Millennium Project was established to connect the canals and a wheel was designed to lower and raise boats. Two water-filled gondolas, one top, one bottom, carry the boats up and down, with the help of Archimedes’ principle, which means that the weight of each mini-reservoir remains the same regardless of the size or number of boats travelling in each.
The lock-replacement wheel has been design with art as well as technology in mind. The striking arms of the wheel were inspired by the shape of a Celtic double-headed axe, with added hints of a ship propeller, the ribcage of a whale and the spine of a fish.
The Wheel is an easy day trip from both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and very much worth a visit. There’s a cafe down below where you can sit and watch the wheel in action, and boat trips are available which give a fun ride up in the wheel an along the canal above. The perfect way to admire the technical achievement and the stunning views.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 27 May 2019
Posted as part of Photo a Week