Sunday 24 April 2016

The Kelpies

"Jesus!" you think, as you weave across the M9, nearly crashing your car into a vehicle in the next lane. "What the fuck is that?"

It's the Kelpies, that's what.

The Kelpies are a 2013 sculpture at the end of the Forth-Clyde Canal. As the dullest and least scenic roads in Scotland, the main arteries between Edinburgh and Glasgow have become repositories of outdoor art. The Heavy Horse, the Pyramids, the Teletubby-like Horn (which apparently broadcasts sounds if you were to get out your car and listen) and the weird six-limbed Arrira.

The Kelpies though are something else. 100ft high, they loom over the M9 motorway, appearing suddenly from behind some trees at a bend. In The Godfather, the Mafia intimidated a character by putting a horse's head in his bed. If that film had been shot in Scotland, not only would it be slightly more surreal, but the victim could well have woken up inside a horse's head, such is the scale of these things.

But it is important to remember they aren't horses. They are kelpies, water spirits from auld Scotia who liked to take the form of horses to lure unsuspecting maidens onto their backs. They would then gallop into a nearby loch with their victim on their back, never to be seen again.

I've wanted to visit the Kelpies since the sculptures were completed. They have caused a bit of local interest, and unlike the other sculptures along the M8 and M80, are worth visiting in their own right, dominating the canal basin at the Forth end of the Forth-Clyde Canal. I surely can't be the only person who has thought that they would make a fitting end to an ultra-marathon or canoe race, traversing the 35-mile length of the canal from west coast to east?