Born of Celtic mythology, the stories spun of the kelpies depict them as anything from ethereal temptresses to cloven-hooved minions of the Devil. What is shared across all folktales, however, is their association with Scotland’s many bodies of water and their enigmatic shapeshifting abilities.
Although depicted in countless works of art and literature – from ancient folklore to the nation’s most celebrated writers like Walter Scott and Robert Burns – inarguably the most recognisable portrayal of the creatures came in 2013 in rural Falkirk. The twin horseheads, standing an incredible 30 metres high, were designed by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, whose work in galvanised steel are landmarks across the whole country. Each Kelpie weighs over 300 tonnes, making it even more impressive that the statues are hollow and are open for exploration via one of the many guided tours on offer. They are the centrepiece of a sprawling park complex of intertwining waterways and transformed landscapes that have withstood uncountable millennia of natural and human damage; it is this Caledonian sturdiness that these colossal creations were built to symbolise.
How to get there
Visitors can access the Helix Car Park for free all year round, although the closer Kelpies Car Park charges a small fee. The Dalgrain Road bus stop, accessible by X24 and 2 buses, is the nearest public transport link, requiring a short walk after disembarking.