Disclosure: This is paid article in collaboration with Visit Falkirk.
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Visit Falkirk Area
Falkirk is a historic town in Central Scotland with history going back to the 7th Century. The area has a wealth of historic and major tourist attractions as well as much newer places to visit. From its early history to the building of the Antonine Wall across this area by the Romans, there is a lot to discover! Falkirk is even the birthplace of the famous Scottish drink Irn Bru!
So it’s definitely worth stopping for a couple of nights to explore the area further, there’s more to Falkirk than the Kelpies viewed from the M9!
Day 1 – Bo’ness
If you don’t bring your own bikes to Falkirk, I can recommend hiring some, there are some great cycle paths to choose from. Which also happens to be more sustainable than driving everywhere!
On day 1 the first place to go is Bo’ness town centre to find a parking spot (there are several free parking areas). From here cycle along past Bo’ness and Kinneil railway along the John Muir Way, also National Cycle routes 76, to Blackness Castle. There isn’t much parking at Blackness, so it’s good to cycle here rather than take the car.
Blackness Castle dates back to the 15th Century and was the port that served the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow for Scottish Kings and Queens. The castle was also used as a state prison for nobles that got on the wrong side of the king and later as a military garrison. Its final use was an ammunition depot until it was decommissioned after WW1 and became a visitor attraction. Don’t miss going to the top of the keep to see the view across to the Forth Bridges or the pit prison where poorer criminals were kept. Outlander fans will also enjoy that Blackness Castle was featured in Outlander as a substitute for Fort William.
After your visit to the castle head over to the Lobster Pot in Blackness for lunch. Or if you can wait 30 minutes to cycle back to Bo’ness, stop off at McMoo’s Ice Cream Parlour (pictured below). They have delicious lunches and plenty of tasty ice cream treats!
Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway
Put the bikes back on the car and walk to Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway. It’s a 5 minute walk from Bo’ness centre. This is one of the places you will want to book in advance and check dates! You can take restored steam or diesel locomotives on a short trip up and down an old branch line. There is also a little cafe, shop, model railway and a fantastic museum to explore the old trains that were once used.
If you have time head to Kinneil House for a walk around the estate. The house is open for tours on certain weekend dates throughout the summer months (check website for dates) and the museum is also open on those dates or weekdays 10-4 (except Tuesdays). You can also just visit for a walk around the estate at any time. There are also some mountain bike paths in the woods behind the house too. It has an interesting history with the Antonine Wall running past the house and the remnants of an old village behind the house.
Day 2 – Callendar Estate and Kelpies
On your second day start with a fun walk or bike ride at Callendar Estate Activity Centre. You can hire bikes here or use your own. Or if you feel like a walk then there are several different trails to follow. We took the Battle of Falkirk Trail, which had many great information points to tell you more about the history of the area. The Battle of Falkirk was well documented, so you can follow the battle whilst walking the trail. There are detailed maps by the cafe @ Canada Wood car park, take a photo to keep yourself on track whilst exploring.
Callendar House & Park
After your daily exercise head over to Callendar House to visit the museum. The museum includes the history of the house and local area. Including a lot of information about the Romans who once occupied this part of Scotland. The Antonine Wall runs right beside Callendar House, so you can find more information about the people who lived here and how the wall was built. The Antonine wall is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretching right across Scotland. Falkirk has a plentiful supply of Roman remains due to its location on the Antonine Wall and you can find many artefacts here. For children there are plenty of interactive activities and games that will keep them busy, definitely a great place to spend a morning! If you are an Outlander fan you will also want to see the Georgian kitchen at Callendar House, as it featured as the kitchen of the Duke of Sandringham.
Book a table at Callendar House Tearoom for lunch. They have delicious food in the rather grand tearoom! If you can get a spot next to the window you will enjoy some amazing views!
If you are travelling with younger kids you will probably want to stop at the Roman themed play park. Or if it’s a dry day take the nature play trail around the grounds.
The Lonely Broomstick
Book a wand or potion experience at The Lonely Broomstick in Falkirk town centre for the afternoon. The Lonely Broomstick on Falkirk High Street is an award winning wizard themed gift shop, with fantastic wizarding decor. It’s an amazing shop to just browse and choose gifts for friends and family, or book a unique experience. You can choose from a potion workshop or wand experience. The potion workshop is in the back room and involves a lot of mixing different ingredients! The wand experience is in the shop, where you can choose 3 wands from their core and wood type, then you get to test them out to choose one to keep. They also provide different wizard themed drinks, including Butterbeer and Polyjuice potion!
Now it’s time to visit the famous Kelpie sculptures at Helix Park. The Kelpies are one of Falkirk town’s main attractions and are the world’s largest equine sculptures. It’s a short 5 minute car ride to the Kelpies from the town centre. Walk along the canal and admire the Kelpies structures until you are right underneath them! It’s also possible to take a guided tour inside the Kelpies, available on certain dates and times (check the website or phone in advance). You can visit the visitor centre with the little museum, shop and cafe beside the Kelpies too.
For dinner book a table at Cook’s Bar and Kitchen at Grange Manor, a short drive away from the Kelpies. They have friendly staff and delicious Scottish cuisine.
Day 3 – Visit Falkirk Wheel and Muiravonside
Today you are going to visit another particularly popular Falkirk attraction – The Falkirk Wheel. The Falkirk Wheel is an engineering marvel, created to replace 11 locks on the canal. This connects the Union Canal to the Forth & Clyde Canal. It is now a major tourist attraction with boat trips up the wheel (basically a boat lift) and a short way along the canal. However, it is also used by regular canal boats, kayaks and other watercraft for a fee.
Take a tour on the Falkirk wheel and try out some of the other outdoor activities on offer, from mini gold and a splash park, to Segways and archery. There is a lot to do in the area.
After a busy morning at the Falkirk Wheel head over to Bridge 49 Cafe, Bar and Bistro for lunch beside the canal. It’s a 20 minute drive East of the Falkirk Wheel.
Muiravonside Country Park
Once you are full from lunch pop across to nearby Muiravonside Country Park, managed by Falkirk council, for a walk around the trails and visit the Farm Park. Don’t miss the sculptures!
After a busy few days head back home to relax. Or if you still have time to spend in Falkirk consider some of the other attractions below.
- Bo’ness Motor Museum
- Rough Castle
- Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre
- The Dunmore Pineapple
- Wellsfield Farm Activity Centre
- Wonder World Soft Play