A vast town on the River Carron, Falkirk is a central belt urban area identifiable by its iconic steeple, industrial relics and modern feats of engineering. The town centre shows signs of decline, but there is a growing number of music and nightlife venues being renovated by locals who are dedicated to reviving Falkirk’s fading social scene. Away from the High Street, Falkirk is a thriving tourist destination with beautiful greenspaces and marvellous sites including the Falkirk Wheel, Kelpies, Pineapple House and the impressive 14th century Callendar House at the Antonine Wall.
Getting to Falkirk
Most locals travel to and from the town by car or train. The train links between Falkirk and Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling are good, and there are numerous stations in the town to choose from. Falkirk Grahamston is right in the town centre and close to both the High Street and the large retail park. A little out of the town is Falkirk High, a station on the fastest route between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It’s good if you want to get to and from Falkirk quickly, but you may need to get a taxi into down as it is a steep downhill walk.
Eating and drinking
Findlays is a small but popular café in the town centre. It serves big breakfasts, brunches, cakes and lunches; and is also known to host the odd evening event such as psychic nights and whisky tastings! One reviewer said: “the main entrance has steps leading up to the door, however there is a second entrance on the same side of the building just a few metres along that has a bell to alert staff. This is a wide, step-free entrance that will lead you into the main café”.
If you have a car or are happy to take a taxi, Canada Wood Kitchen and Bar can be found just outside one of Falkirk’s elevated neighbourhoods. It has stunning views across the Ochil Hills, and is a good place for homely food and big cakes! One visitor wrote: “the restaurant is a modern, high-ceilinged building with smooth stone floors. The first thing you see as you enter is the mouth-watering cake selection!”.
Photo: The Horsebox Café and Gift Shop.
If you happen to be visiting Callendar House, its tearoom is known for its wonderful afternoon teas! You’ll need to book first if you want to be guaranteed a table, and access is by a smaller lift in this old building so it may be a good idea to check dimensions if you are concerned about accessing this part of Callendar House.
For those who are spending the day in The Helix, it’s an ideal picnic spot, but you can also get tasty ice-creams and snacks at The Horsebox Café and Gift Shop and enjoy lunch beside the giant water horses. “There is a dropped counter inside at the till. Outside there are various low picnic benches.”
Exploring the canals
Photo: The Kelpies.
Much of Falkirk’s must-see attractions can be found along the canals. Perhaps the most famous is the Falkirk Wheel, a boat lift constructed to connect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The landmark lifts boats 24 metres up to the Union Canal and replaces 11 locks which in the past took almost a day to pass through. One visitor reviewed the Falkirk Wheel on Euan’s Guide and said:
“The visitor centre which you go into to buy tickets is all very wheelchair friendly. Then we went onto the actual Wheel which is also very accessible for all types of wheelchair. The staff are very friendly and helpful and have a ramp to get onto the boat. The trip was very enjoyable and educational with fantastic far-reaching views.”
If you’re keen to get on a boat and travel along the canals, Seagull Trust Cruises Limited is a charity which provides cruises for disabled people across Scotland. They operate in Falkirk, and on passenger said: “the barges are fully equipped with accessible ramps and I have had many enjoyable cruises on their boats in the Falkirk area.”
On lower ground, The Helix is a large park with a pond, eating spaces, walks, birdlife, and the famous Kelpies. “The access into and around this park is great, as all the paths are smooth and surfaced and are wide enough to let a truck through. I loved the wetland area with winding boardwalk.”
Take a moment to admire The Kelpies if you’re visiting The Helix; these giant water horses are the world’s largest equine structures. One visitor wrote: “The Kelpies made for a great visit albeit a bit chilly as they’re exposed to the elements sitting alongside the canal. Getting up close and around was easy with good surfaces to wheel on.”
Top tip! There are accessible parking spaces close to the visitor centre – just make your way to the barrier at the access road. These spaces are closer to The Kelpies than the more obvious accessible parking in the main car park.
While you’re at this side of town, you’ll spot the Falkirk Stadium which is infamous for its bitterly cold matches! One football fan said: “The stadium is 5 minutes off the M9 motorway and very easy to find. With plenty parking and very good level access into the stadium, it is one of the better grounds that is worth a visit!”.
Photo: Rough Castle Fort.
While Falkirk has a long industrial past and history with the waterways, it also has older stories that date back to the 14th century and beyond. Explore quiet woodland and witness fragments of the Antonine Wall to get a feel for the Falkirk of long ago. Rough Castle Fort is a good starting point to see a bit of Roman history, and one visitor said: “I like the wide barrier entrance that would be wide enough for most wheelchairs if not all. The paths are very wide and I don’t remember any steps. The fort is lumpy and hilly, but you will be fine if you stick to the paths”.
Callendar House dates back to the 14th century and offers a great multi-sensory experience with Georgian food sampling, storytelling and interactive exhibits. The House is listed on Euan’s Guide saying that it will be adding new signage and an audio buzzer to make access easier for visitors.
Have you been to Falkirk?
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Last updated - July 2017