The Falkirk Wheel, Scotland

Completed in 2002, the Falkirk Wheel is a modern engineering marvel, a rotating boat lift that raises vessels 115ft from the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal. Boat trips depart from the lower basin every 40 minutes (hourly in winter) and travel into the wheel, which delivers you to the Union Canal high above. Boats then go through Roughcastle Tunnel before the return descent on the wheel. Anyone with an interest in engineering should not miss this boat ride – it’s great for kids too.

There’s also water playpark, a cafe and a newly revamped visitor centre, which explains the workings of the mighty wheel – it only takes the power of about eight toasters for a full rotation!

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Scotland, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The lift is named after the nearby town of Falkirk in central Scotland. It opened in 2002, reconnecting the two canals for the first time since the 1930s as part of the Millennium Link project.

The plan to regenerate central Scotland’s canals and reconnect Glasgow with Edinburgh was led by British Waterways with support and funding from seven local authorities, the Scottish Enterprise Network, the European Regional Development Fund, and the Millennium Commission. Planners decided early on to create a dramatic 21st-century landmark structure to reconnect the canals, instead of simply recreating the historic lock flight.

The wheel raises boats by 24 metres (79 ft), but the Union Canal is still 11 metres (36 ft) higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel. Boats must also pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and one of two working boat lifts in the United Kingdom, the other being the Anderton boat lift.

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