Saturday, 28 June 2014

Endurance...& Saturday smiles

Endurance:- staying power; patience; survival; stamina; fortitude; continued existence

Last week was a time of endurance, a family bereavement causing extreme sadness for myself, my husband and my immediate relatives. It made me think of the endurance necessary to see you through the dark days, especially for those closest to the one who has died.

Endurance was also a feature at the new visitor destination - The Helix Park - that my husband and I popped in to on our way home last Thursday. It was a diversion to our normal route, chosen in order to 'take our mind off' recent events.

Another reason for making the brief visit was due to my extreme interest in the statues designed by Andy Scott- named The Kelpies. I've been following Facebook posts from The Kelpies page during 2013/2014 and kept up with the progress of the installation of the fabulous statues you see in the photo above. Officially opened at the end of April 2014, I've been desperate to catch a glimpse of these amazing sculptures. Another blog will follow soon on these iconic statues, designed to highlight the endurance of the Forth and Clyde canal workhorses of former days, and to incorporate the Kelpies mythology of central Scotland. The Kelpies sculptures are immense and have a beauty of their own, but are not the only aspects which make the area a great one to visit.

The video at the URL here is worthy of the few minutes and gives a great explanation of the vision of the park.

The Helix Park is a recent development project in central Scotland, near the industrial areas of Grangemouth and Falkirk. On what was once unused land, a new urban green space has been created: vision and endurance playing a huge part in the project becoming a reality after many years. The extent of the park is intentional, a fabulous space for family and individual recreation and exercise. Nostalgic for me, the parkland paths are also designed to join communities between Falkirk and Grangemouth. These new paths now connect the village I once lived in for around a decade (Polmont) and the school I taught in during the late 1970s (Westquarter). Back then, the only way to walk the six miles or so, between my home and school, was via the main single carriageway road. This road was extremely busy and dangerous in places with speeding cars and buses, and over most of the stretch there was no pedestrian pathway. It has to be said that I rarely walked the route. 

The Helix Park is now a perfect place to walk, ride a bike, run, skate or ride. (No cars allowed beyond the car park) Kids can enjoy the amenities already in place, like the timber play park – with, I believe, potentially more fun activities to follow. The huge green space has been created with a strong emphasis on enhancing the ecology and biodiversity of the site and improving connections around the parklands. The natural wetlands, formerly not easily negotiable, have been enhanced by walkways whose design does not interfere too much with the natural habitat, disturbance to wildlife as limited as possible. The natural woodlands within the area are sensitively managed, woodland management providing a sustainable environment. The lagoon, shingle beach bordered, is designed for water-based activities- with visitor facilities nearby.

The Forth and Clyde Canal is a feature, the Kelpies Hub being a dramatic place to view the huge statues guarding the canal locks at the eastern mouth of the Forth and Clyde canal.  The canal towpaths are well maintained to encourage safe cycling and walking along the stretches.

Each distinct area of the development is worthy of its own blog post, and if I can find the time I will write them.

To the south of the Helix Park, part of The Antonine Wall cuts through the area. Expect another blog on that soon since the Roman aspect is an exciting one for me, as readers of my Celtic Fervour Series will already know.

I only had time for the quickest of glimpses of The Helix but I intend to revisit as soon as I am able.


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