URBAN walks are often ignored in favour of the countryside. It is understandable, especially if you spend most of your time surrounded by buildings and roads.
However, sometimes a man-made setting can allow the senses to be overcome by a feeling of being “away from it all”. This can take the form of beautiful architecture or, in the case of this walk at a new regeneration area outside Falkirk, take a route that, while not in bucolic countryside, passes no major buildings.
At The Helix a network of paths is being built while a lake and the Kelpies sculpture have already been constructed. Although not everything is finished yet, it is possible to get a sneak preview, capped by the 100-foot-high Andy Scott sculpture of two horses’ heads standing between the Forth and Clyde canal and the M9 motorway. These were designed as a monument to the horse power used in Scotland throughout its history. They don’t officially open to the public until 21 April, but now they are finished they can be enjoyed close up from across the canal.
Don’t be under any illusion that everything is industrial. While on this route last week I saw a heron and roe deer – not your typical urban life.
DISTANCE 2∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible.
TIME 1 to 1∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 65.
PARK Next to the Falkirk Stadium, home to the town’s football club. Follow the A9 from Junction 5 of the M9 to the Westfield Roundabout and turn right. Go right again following a sign for parking for away supporters. Park on the right – further from the football ground, which it is best to avoid on match days.
IN SUMMARY Follow a broad path out of the car park and away from the football ground. Cross the road you arrived on at a pedestrian crossing and on the other side follow a sign for Helix Park on a well surfaced path.
At a junction go straight on to walk by the left side of a man-made lake. Keep walking round the lake and past a small wooden building – which houses toilets – to reach a signpost, where you go left. At a fork in the path keep left to reach a large wall made of baskets of rocks. Go to the left of the wall and continue in the same direction. Because the building of paths in the park has yet to be finished, you have to leave the Helix development at this point. Follow an access road to the left to reach a roundabout, then go right and follow the footpath across a bridge over the Forth and Clyde Canal – from here you get a good view of the Kelpies in the distance.
On the other side of the bridge take a path to the right, down to the canal towpath. Go left at the bottom to follow the towpath round to the left. After passing lock gates there is a rudimentary viewing platform across the canal from the Kelpies. You may wish to continue along the towpath a short distance to enjoy different views of the sculptures before retracing your steps back to the start.
REFRESH There is nothing on the walk at the moment although that will change as the Helix development is completed. Near the motorway junction is the Beancross café/bar/bistro with the Chianti Italian restaurant next door. Across the road is a Brewers Fayre pub.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA For more canal interest head to the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift, where boat trips are available. n