Splashtastic: The Falkirk Wheel’s Water Play Zone

At the Scottish Waterways Trust, we’re always looking ahead, thinking about how we can nurture the canal champions of the future. After all, we need them to protect and enhance the canals to benefit the people of Scotland for generations to come – and what better way to do it by having a lot of watery fun?

Since its launch in 2011, The Falkirk Wheel’s Water Play Zone has helped countless kids to become canal champions of tomorrow. Featuring a 30 metre long mini canal, which sits opposite the 35 metre high Falkirk Wheel, the play area represents the Union and Forth & Clyde Canals, which connect at the world’s only fully rotating boatlift.

With a range of hands-on, push and pull buttons and winders, visitors can launch a mini boat, open glass fronted canal locks, move water uphill with an ‘Archimedes Screw’ and much more. There’s even a miniature Falkirk Wheel to navigate and an outdoor classroom space to learn more about Scotland’s canals.

Funded thanks to the hard work of the Trust, the popular area is now set to be expanded. Designed to celebrate the history, geography and role of Scotland’s canals, the new water play zone will centre on two new pools, one of which will include a giant map of Scotland made of natural stone and featuring the country’s five canals.

Visitors will be able to play with hydrozorbs (large inflatable balls) and water dodgems on the larger of the two pools, while the smaller of the pools will feature a gently sloped beach edge so people of all ages can paddle in the shallow water.

Visitors will also be able to steer model boats from the water’s edge or from on top of the map of Scotland, manoeuvring their craft through the miniature canals complete with model lock gates and a rotating bucket wheel representing The Falkirk Wheel.

As well as exploring where the five canals flow and how they and The Falkirk Wheel work in context, children will be able to clamber over the map, discovering the peaks and valleys of Scotland, the geographical fault lines and cities and major settlements.

Like everything we do, the project is designed to encourage more people to engage with the rich heritage, environments and stories of Scotland’s canals – while having fun in the process! If you think you can help us create the ca