Best walks in Scotland: Forth and Clyde Canal, the Kelpies, River Carron and Helix Paths in Falkirk

THIS column is dedicated to walking and ramblers’ groups from across Scotland, where they can suggest the best routes to enjoy. See the panel at the end of this story if you want to get involved.

By Betty Brodie, Stirling, Falkirk and District Ramblers

Start: Helix car park, Falkirk, FK2 9EE.

Distance: 3.5 miles, can be extended to suit.

Time: 2 hours.

Terrain: Surfaced paths throughout.

Level: Easy.

Access: By car – the Helix car park is located just off the main motorway routes. From Edinburgh, take the M9 towards Stirling and junction 5 for Falkirk. From Glasgow, travel on the M80 towards Stirling, take junction 8 for M876 and join the M9, then junction 6 for Falkirk. From the north, take the A9 and M9 towards Edinburgh, then junction 6 for Falkirk.

There are also public transport links by train to Falkirk High and Falkirk Grahamston or by bus from Falkirk, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

What makes it special: The world-famous Kelpies towering over the Forth and Clyde Canal. This pair of 30-metre-high horse-head sculptures were designed by Andy Scott. The Helix Park lagoon is filled with wildfowl. The site is also home to cafes, a visitor centre, play area and toilets.

HeraldScotland: The scenic route around the Forth and Clyde Canal, Kelpies, River Carron and Helix Paths. Picture: Ramblers ScotlandThe scenic route around the Forth and Clyde Canal, Kelpies, River Carron and Helix Paths. Picture: Ramblers Scotland

THE Helix project has transformed previously under-used land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a thriving urban greenspace.

It links communities in the Falkirk area with an extensive network of paths accessible to all. The Helix Park includes a great lawn for events, a lagoon and a splash play area. The most visible feature of the development are the two famed equine structures, known as the Kelpies.

Route: From the Helix car park go to the canal tow path and head in the direction of the Kelpies. This section of the canal, known as Queen Elizabeth II, is an extension to the Forth and Clyde canal, opened in 2014.

Have a look at the boats as you pass. At the end of the path, read the inscription at your feet, then make your way down between the two Kelpies and cross over the lock gate.

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Pass the Horsebox Cafe and turn right over another lock gate. Go left in front of the multi-coloured huts to the signpost in the corner. Take the path signposted Helix North and Love and Kisses.

This path goes along the River Carron to the Human Sun Clock. The sun clock works by someone standing on the metal plate and their shadow telling the time. The sun, of course, has to be shining. It was designed by Helen Coffey.

HeraldScotland: The Human Sun Clock next to the River Carron, designed by Helen Coffey. Picture: Betty Brodie/Stirling, Falkirk & District RamblersThe Human Sun Clock next to the River Carron, designed by Helen Coffey. Picture: Betty Brodie/Stirling, Falkirk & District Ramblers

Follow the path signposted Love and Kisses, which is on your left as you face the sun clock. The Love and Kisses sculpture is based on a laurel leaf and was created by Jephson Robb. It pays tribute to the Roman heritage in the area.

Continue on the path and at a T-junction turn right towards the Abbotshaugh Bridge across the River Carron. This was installed in 2018 linking communities along the Carron. Before descending the bridge look into the field beside the path to see the remains of Carron House Doocot.

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Turn right off the bridge and follow the river path to the main road. Turn right and then second right to bring you to the canal path, part of the Charlotte Dundas Heritage Trail. Follow this to the Kelpies and visitor centre. Go up to the canal and retrace steps to the car park.

HeraldScotland: The Kelpies. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesThe Kelpies. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The walk can be extended by one mile. Leave the canal at the steps on your left, just before the car park. You can walk around the wetlands and the lagoon. It is well signposted.

Don’t miss: A guided tour of the Kelpies and exploring all the nooks of the Helix Park. Look out for the plaque in the visitor centre awarded to Falkirk for winning Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood. While you are in the area, be sure to visit the Falkirk Wheel and nearby Callendar House.

Useful information: For details on Stirling, Falkirk & District Ramblers walks and how to join, visit

Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email [email protected]

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