water horses

water horses

the story of the kelpies

From the duck’s eye view of the canal we see the world in a different way.

The kingfisher’s colours become emerald and sapphire, trees seem to loom above the water reaching for the ever changing sky, lilies appear as lotus flowers.

At Grangemouth the world’s biggest equine statues take on a whole new grandeur as they appear to be even bigger from the canal.

The Forth and Clyde Canal sounds at first to hint at industrial decay. The kelpie statues both celebrate the connection with metal working and raise art to a whole new level.



It’s possible to exhaust a thesaurus in an attempt to describe the towering metal giants as they rise from the canal. A colossus of art. Enormous and huge don’t even come close.

You can even climb up inside them and admire the feat of engineering that created something so beautiful.

Kelpies are part of the wonderful Scottish storytelling tradition.

The world of storytelling is replete with tales of monsters who lurk in river and lakes just waiting to drag an unsuspecting human beneath the unforgiving surface to the watery depths below.

The Loch Ness Monster and the Kelpies are considerably scarier than Jenny Greenteeth.

The point was, of course, to frighten children into staying well away from the water’s edge. The real monster was the risk of drowning.


falkirk wheel

Kelpies were particularly devious. White horses with glowing skin who invited children to ride on their backs which magically lengthened to accommodate any number of people. Once there, the children found themselves stuck as if by glue and unable to dismount as the kelpie dived beneath the water, drowning his human cargo.

If you find yourself on the Forth and Clyde, do take time to gaze in wonder and maybe even climb up inside the statues. They are ________________ (insert the word of your choice here). I’ll go for 'incredible' in the true sense of the word as kelpies are difficult to believe in.

For my own telling of the story of the kelpies, please visit my YouTube channel, or type in Fiona Dowson Kelpies.

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About FIona Dowson

Fiona lives in the medieval city of Norwich which is located happily on the rivers Wensum & Yare and in the county of Norfolk, renowned for the Broads. A storyteller and craft worker, Fiona likes to teach spinning and knitting. She firmly believes the world would be a better place if more people spent more time in, on, or even just near rivers. Fiona's YouTube channel has lots of stories...