Time for a tale

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

(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.Kelpies - What Kelpies

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.

Forth and Clyde Canal

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.

20140626_160301 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!

Other tales, some very recently created, have the kelpie shape-shifting to a beautiful woman…or even….a beautiful man who lures the opposite sex to their rather nasty edible death.kelpie x 1000

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

For the poem: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/ochone-michty-me-did-anyone-ever-use.html

Have a great weekend!

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17 thoughts on “Time for a tale

  1. Nancy,

    I love this blog post. The park sounds heavenly and I thank you for telling us about it.

    I have always been fascinated by Kelpies and you added to their myth for me. Take care of yourself. Doris


    1. The statues are really impressive, Stephanie. I understand the poem but ‘I dinna spik Doric verra weel’. 😉


  2. Fascinating blog post, Nancy. Now you have me wanting to visit this park and see these Kelpies. I love green places where you can take long walks and not worry about being run over. Every night on the Vegas news one hears about somebody being run over. The streets are really dangerous. The Strip and the surrounding valley are beautiful at night all lit up, but there are a lot of drivers on the road who perhaps have been in the cups too much.


    1. Mike- we also have too many pedestrians or cyclists being run over but something like this park is a fabulous place to wander at will. The kids can run, skate or whatever and there’s still plenty of pathway for wheelchairs or slow walkers to go at their own pace. Miles and miles of pathways could mean a much fitter local population and the park is FREE. There’s no charge for the car parks either -so it’s a great community resource.


  3. I followed the links you had in your post and were they interesting! The plan for the Helix is awesome and seems to be a good way of connecting the areas as well as providing residents with beautiful places to exercise and meditate in the beauty of nature. This was very interesting – I had never heard of Kelpies until now and I find them fascinating. I read your blog post of the story of the Kelpie and it so engrossed me that I was reminded of other legends passed down through the centuries. Thank you for such an informative blog, Nancy. As usual, you have entertained us all!


  4. INteresting! I had forgotten that I have heard of Kelpies, but did not remember the name. The park looks very interesting and a wonderful place to spend time. I enjoyed the poem on your blog and the definitions given afterwards also. You are a talented and interesting lady! Thanks for sharing.


  5. Wonderful post, Nancy! I continue to be fascinated by Scotland and do hope to visit one day. I had heard of kelpie dogs, but not the mythical creatures — I like horses, but I think as far as kelpies go, I’d rather run into the dog-type than the shape-shifting type! Thanks for sharing beautiful and interesting aspects of your country with us!


  6. I’ve traveled here and there but have not yet made it to Scotland though it has always been on my list. Your posts make me want to go there more than ever. Thanks for sharing. Love it.


    1. I could never visit all of the US during my, so far 3 visits, but a visitor to Scotland can see quite a lot in a short time. 😉


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