Saturday 27th July Part 1
The Falkirk Wheel
The day dawned bright and clear. It was probably the nicest sunniest day we had the whole trip – though many had been lovely. After our final Premier Inn breakfast we headed off to the Falkirk Wheel.
The sat nav has a mind of its own and took us such a convoluted way to the wheel. Mind you, we hadn’t realised quite how far we had come until we passed through California! Seriously, I kid you not. I even had Nigel stop so I could take a photo to prove it. Maybe that was why the weather was so perfect. We were in California!
We arrived at the wheel almost an hour before it opened, but that was our intention. We wanted to make the most of the day in the Trossachs and so we planned to get to the wheel early and do all of the photo stuff before riding the wheel itself. We had pre-booked tickets for the first boat ride at 10.30.
This was a Nigel visit and I had been expecting to be relatively bored, but I loved it. The wheel, apart from being such an amazing feat of engineering, was beautiful. It was huge and it turned quite slowly, taking just over 4 minutes. It was beautiful to watch and to marvel at. We couldn’t wait to ride it.
For those of you who don’t know what the Falkirk Wheel is, here is a little potted history taken from ‘internet!
The Millennium Link was an ambitious £84.5m project with the objective of restoring navigability across Scotland on the historic Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. A major challenge faced, was to link the Forth and Clyde Canal, which lay 35m (115ft) below the level of the Union Canal. Historically, the two canals had been joined at Falkirk by a flight of 11 locks that stepped down across a distance of 1.5km, but these were dismantled in 1933, breaking the link.
What was required was a method of connecting these two canals by way of a boat lift. British Waterways (now Scottish Canals) were keen to present a visionary solution taking full advantage of the opportunity to create a truly spectacular and fitting structure that would suitably commemorate the Millennium and act as an iconic symbol for years to come.
The result, a perfectly balanced structure that is The Falkirk Wheel - the world's first and only rotating boat lift - was the eventual outcome. Completion of The Millennium Link project was officially marked by Her Majesty The Queen on 24 May 2002 at The Falkirk Wheel.
The Falkirk Wheel lies at the end of a reinforced concrete aqueduct that connects, via the Roughcastle tunnel and a double staircase lock, to the Union Canal. Boats entering the Wheel's upper gondola are lowered, along with the water that they float in, to the basin below. At the same time, an equal weight rises up, lifted in the other gondola.
This works on the Archimedes principle of displacement. That is, the mass of the boat sailing into the gondola will displace an exactly proportional volume of water so that the final combination of 'boat plus water' balances the original total mass.
Each gondola runs on small wheels that fit into a
single curved rail fixed on the inner edge of the opening on each arm. In
theory, this should be sufficient to ensure that they always remain horizontal,
but any friction or sudden movement could cause the gondola to stick or tilt.
To ensure that this could never happen and that the water and boats always
remain perfectly level throughout the whole cycle, a series of linked cogs acts
as a back up. You can see the gondola filled with water and the wheels that roll round the giant circle.
Hidden at each end, behind the arm nearest the aqueduct, are two 8m diameter cogs to which one end of each gondola is attached. A third, exactly equivalent sized cog is in the centre, attached to the main fixed upright. Two smaller cogs are fitted in the spaces between, with each cog having teeth that fit into the adjacent cog and push against each other, turning around the one fixed central one. The two gondolas, being attached to the outer cogs, will therefore turn at precisely the same speed, but in the opposite direction to the Wheel.
Given the precise balancing of the gondolas and this simple but clever system of cogs, a very small amount of energy is actually then required to turn the Wheel. In fact, it is a group of ten hydraulic motors located within the central spine that provide the small amount, just 1.5kw, of electricity to turn it.
- The Falkirk Wheel is 35 metres tall, the equivalent of 8 double deckers buses stacked on top of each other
- Cost £17.5 million to build
- 1,200 tonnes of steel was used to create The Wheel
- The structure contains over 14,000 bolts and 45,000 bolt holes
- Over 1,000 construction staff helped to build it
- The gondolas hold 500,000 litres of water, enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool
- The Wheel only uses 1.5KWh of energy to turn, the same amount as it would take to boil 8 household kettles
We hadn’t been expecting he ride in the boat to be as good as it was though!
We expected to go in the boat, go up to the top and back down again. Ten minutes tops really. Oh no – nothing like that. We were thrilled that you go up, out into the canal, through the tunnel, out into the wider canal, turn round and then go back down again. Wow.
It was lovely and such a beautiful sunny day to experience it.
The boat for the trip on the wheel
and sailing in to the gondola
It was so beautiful that day
The journey back down
The other boat up above as as we neared the end
One of the best bits was when you are in the wheel ready to come down and you are at the end of the gondola and there is seemingly nothing at all in front of you. We were sat right of the front of the boat and it was quite dramatic.
So all in all, another of our ‘must see’ list was just plain brilliant.
As this post was quite photo heavy again, I will leave our final part of the trip, the Trossachs and onwards, until tomorrow.
Today I got back on my horse, figuratively speaking. Nigel took me out to Poole, where there was a lot of grass, and we walked for an hour and I stayed upright! I admit we were both a bit scared, but it was OK and I feel more confident than I did.
My knees are a terrific shade of black and purple and green and I ache everywhere, but hopefully it was a one off and not to be repeated.
Not a lot of scrapping has been going on. It's funny isn't it. When you have the time to scrap the mojo goes on holiday.
But I did make a cute card.
You see my Pinterest addicition is paying off. This was pinterest inspired
Today I am thankful for a sit in the sun, a gentle walk and lots of support.
And if you find my mojo wandering, please return it to me.
and finally I don't know how many of you subscribe to Upworthy but they have some awesome things on there and I had this link today - I can't read the writing at the end but it is well worth watching ... and thinking about