We had seen a documentary on the Falkirk Wheel some time before our travels and just had to see it for ourselves. Near the town of Falkirk in central Scotland, the Forth & Clyde Canal used to be connected to the Union Canal by a series of eleven locks. In the 1930s, the locks were demolished and for decades there was nothing to connect these two canals. The Falkirk Wheel, the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, opened in 2002 and reconnected Glasgow and Edinburgh via these canals. We walked along the Forth & Clyde Canal on a crisp autumn morning
and were absolutely awed at our first sight of the wheel.
The wheel works on Archimedes principle of displacement. The two gondolas are full of water. When a boat enters the gondola, it displaces a proportional volume of water so that the total mass is equal to the other gondola, whether there is a boat in it or not.
The upper gondola is lowered as the lower one rises. Fascinating!
The shape of the wheel was inspired by the Celtic double-headed axe. It is 35m in diameter and raises the boats 24m. More than eight boats can be carried at a time, taking around 20 minutes for a one way trip. Of course, we hopped on for a return circuit.
I wish I had taken more photos, it was truly amazing.