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Things to do in Falkirk, Central Scotland

Falkirk is situated on the Firth of Forth in the Central Lowlands of Scotland,

The Falkirk Wheel © Dennis M Bradley
The Falkirk Wheel © Dennis M Bradley

midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Things to Do Around Falkirk

The Falkirk Wheel rotating boat lift is a popular visitor attraction connecting the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde Canal in place of a series of locks.

The fascinating visitor centre shows how the lift works, and tours can be taken by boat up and down the lift and through the 150 metre long Rough Castle Tunnel.

There are many walking and cycling paths in this scenic area.

Callendar House is a French Renaissance style chateau on the site of a 14th century tower house.

Tours of the furnished house include the museum and heritage centre.

The grounds are considered one of the most significant gardens in Scotland.

The Falkirk Festival in Callendar Park is one of the biggest cultural events in Scotland.

The Antonine Wall was built in 142 AD by the Romans, similar to Hadrian's Wall.

It ran for 39 miles between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde.

Canal trips via the Falkirk Wheel © Dennis M Bradley
Canal trips via the Falkirk Wheel © Dennis M Bradley

The wide bank and ditch are well preserved and several of the forts can be seen at Barr Hill and Rough Castle Fort.

Present Day Falkirk

Falkirk's population has risen to around 34,500 in 2008.

Employment in the area is provided by bus production at Alexander Dennis, along with tourism and retail.

Major employers include Falkirk Council, the UK Child Support Agency, the National Health Service and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Old factories and slum housing have been replaced with a modern shopping centre and car parking.

The Howgate Shopping Centre and pedestrianised High Street are in the centre of Falkirk with supermarkets and retail parks on the outskirts.

The Falkirk Farmer's market is held on the first Friday of the month and attracts many visitors.

History of Falkirk

Christian missionaries arrived in Falkirk around the 6th century.

They built an early church called the Speckled Church, which translated as Fawkirk and eventually derived into Falkirk.

The village grew up around it and in 1298 it was the site of an important battle where William Wallace was defeated by Edward I.

The casualties were buried in Falkirk churchyard.

Much of the Falkirk's history evolved around the Livingstons who lived at Callendar House from the mid-14th century.

Mary Queen of Scots was a regular guest.

The Mercat Cross was erected around 1600 to show Falkirk's importance as a market town.

It was one of Europe's greatest cattle markets where more than 100,000 beasts were traded.

With the building of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal, Falkirk was ideally located for the development of heavy industry.

During the 18th century and 19th century, it became a major centre for the iron and steel industry.

In 1783 William Forbes brought new prosperity to the area when he won a government contract to sheath ship's hulls with copper.

He bought the Callendar estate at auction after it had been forfeited by the Earl of Linlithgow after the Jacobite Rising in 1715.

Forbes descendants continued to live at Callendar house until the 1960s.

The Carron Company became the main manufacturer of carronades, a type of short cannon, for the Royal Navy and also produced pillar boxes for the Royal Mail.


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