During the 18th and 19th centuries over 2000 miles of canals were dug across the UK. These canals were the “motorways” of that day, providing a relatively “fast” way to move goods. This “Golden Age of British Canals” ended as rail became king. The canals, with their many locks, were neglected and, sometimes, simply abandoned.
Then, an interesting thing happened: people began using the canals for recreation. Individuals bought, or constructed, so-called “narrow boats” and used them as a sort of RV to explore the countryside. The government took up the project of restoring the canals and lock system for the purpose of recreation. Travel by narrowboat is slow (about 4 mph) and takes the boater through picturesque rural landscapes and small villages. It is even possible to travel by canal to major cities across the UK.
That brings us to the Falkirk Wheel. Two different canals meet in Falkirk, which is about midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. However, the topography in the area is quite hilly, meaning one canal is high above the other. At one time a series of 11 locks joined the two, but these locks were removed in the 1930’s. The Falkirk Wheel replaced all 11 locks in a marvelous feat of engineering. Really, it is a modern solution to an old problem!
Excursion boat rides are available, giving the rider an experience that can’t be had anywhere else in the world. We loved our ride on the Falkirk Wheel and recommend it to all.