(please forgive some repetition of my own blog since the topic is worthy of many posts)
Last week I needed a diversion on my way home from Central Scotland, so my husband and I visited a new Scottish visitor attraction.
The Helix Park is a recent development project in central Scotland, near the heavily industrial areas of Grangemouth and Falkirk. On what was once unused land, a new urban green space has been created. The extent of the park is intentional, a fabulous space for family and individual recreation and exercise.
Nostalgic for me, the parkland paths now connect the village I once lived in for around a decade and the school I taught in during the late 1970s. Back then, the only way to walk the six miles or so, between my home and school, was via the main single carriageway road. This road was extremely busy and dangerous in places with speeding cars and buses and, over most of the stretch, there was no pedestrian pathway. For those reasons, I rarely walked between home and school.
The Helix Park is now a perfect place to walk, ride a bike, run, skate or ride a horse (No cars allowed beyond the car park). Kids can enjoy the amenities already in place, like the timber play adventureland. The huge green space has been created with a strong emphasis on enhancing the ecology and biodiversity of the site and improving connections around the parklands. The natural wetlands, formerly not easily negotiable, have been enhanced by walkways whose design does not interfere too much with the natural habitat, disturbance to wildlife as limited as possible. The natural woodlands within the area are sensitively managed, woodland management providing a sustainable environment. The lagoon – shingle beach bordered – is designed for water-based activities with visitor facilities nearby.
The Forth and Clyde Canal is a feature along the length of the park, the Kelpies Hub being a dramatic place to view the huge statues which guard the canal locks at the eastern mouth of the canal. Originally opened in 1790, the canal linked west and east Scotland and was a busy commercial transport route for a long while. Heavy Shire or Clydesdale horses were used to tow the barges before motor power was added during the twentieth century. Sadly, by the 1950s and 1960s, the 35 mile long canal had fallen into disuse and many parts were filled in to create trunk roads.
In recent years, though, much of the length has been reopened for leisure use. The canal towpaths are now well maintained to encourage safe cycling and walking along the stretches.
http://www.thehelix.co.uk/discover-helix/the-vision/ Hopefully this link will take you to a short video about the vision of the urban development.)
I’m really pleased that urban develpment planning is now incorporating areas to encourage a healthier lifestyle. If I still lived nearby I’d certainly be using it on a regular basis – the intention of the park for the local population.
These fabulous Kelpie statues, created by Scottish artist and sculptor Andy Scott, now guard the canal lock – but what is a Kelpie?
Some may know of a dog breed of this name but these statues are of horses – not dogs.
In folklore, a kelpie is a shape-shifting water demon, in the form of a horse. In central Scotland, the kelpie haunted rivers and fords and lured the unwary into the water. Once a human was lured onto its back the kelpie’s skin would become sticky, the prey became trapped, and the kelpie slipped down into the depths of the water. Maybe to its linn, a deep pool often under a waterfall, where the kelpie had a nice feast! The nasty water demon was said to particularly like children!
Recent popularity of writing in the supernatural genre has meant authors have used all sorts of tales as their inspiration. The kelpie is only one of those magical creatures that has triggered the imagination.
On my BLOG you’ll find more about kelpies if you’re interested, and have a spare moment or two…There’s a story and an Aberdeenshire poem. (for a translation of the poem try my blog today *smiles* )
For the story of Morag and the Kelpie: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/kelpie-tales-of-long-ago-saturday.html
Have a great weekend!
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