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Take in the Fascinating Sight of the Falkirk Wheel

Scotland is littered with breathtaking sights and noteworthy tourist attractions. These may be historical buildings, natural features, or architectural and engineering masterpieces. One of those engineering feats is the Falkirk Wheel, near the town of Falkirk.

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boatlift that connects the Union Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal. What makes this an even greater engineering achievement, is the fact that the two canals have a twenty-four meter level difference. The Falkirk Wheel is truly a structure to marvel at, as it is extremely intimidating in size, yet delicately arranged to work with synchronized perfection.

Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Falkirk Wheel on 24 May 2002. The construction of the Falkirk Wheel took careful planning and designing by the engineers and the architects, to build a rotating boatlift that is the only one of its kind in the world to date. This £84.5 million project was designed to resemble a Celtic double-headed axe. In total, the wheel has a thirty-five meter diameter that has a central axle, with two arms that extend out from the centre. There are two sets of arms and they have been spaced approximately twenty-five meters apart. Between the ends of the arms caissons filled with water have been attached, with an eighty-gallon capacity.

As learnt in school, the Archimedes’ principle has been used with the caissons. The theory is that an object will displace its own weight within the water, and this is what makes the caissons vital to the success of the wheel. The caisson will weigh the exact same amount as the entering boat, as the water displaced will be the same, keeping the wheel balanced at all times. This allows the Falkirk Wheel to rotate smoothly, without being unbalanced. It is truly a masterly feat of Scottish engineering and scheduled boat tours allow visitors a complete adventure of all the aspects of the wheel. The Visitor Centre and Centre Basin gives visitors the opportunity to view the Falkirk Wheel from all its different angles. There is also a viewing gallery, interactive exhibition, information center, café, souvenir shop, an educational trail and an outdoor play area. It also hosts many events throughout the year with upcoming events from the end of October until December, such as the Floating Gallery, Chevron Upstream Environmental Photography Display, Hammer Horror Exhibition, Craft Fair, Halloween Evening and the Christmas event that includes boat trips with Santa Claus.

The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland is truly an astonishing tourist attraction that will stun visitors with its magnificent size, brilliant design and ingenious engineering. It is a site that is perfect for a family excursion as it promises to be a day of wonder, inspiration and education.


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