Falkirk is a wonderful town to explore. Whether you are a local or a visitor, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So I was thrilled when Visit Falkirk invited me to spend the weekend exploring the wide range of accessible things to see and do in the Forth Valley town and beyond.
We spent one day in Falkirk and the nearby town of Bo’ness before spending two days visiting Loch Lomond, The Trossachs National Park and Stirling. It was a weekend full of fun, sun, good food and local tourism.
Follow our Access Forth Valley itinerary with some of the best accessible visitor attractions, walks and recommendations on where to stay and where to eat along the way.
I hope you’ll agree that Falkirk and the Forth Valley area is a fantastic accessible destination and one you must visit soon.
But First, Where is Falkirk?
Falkirk is a historic town in the heart of Scotland. Its central location between Edinburgh and Glasgow makes it a convenient place to both live and visit for day trips and weekend breaks due to the excellent motorway and rail links.
Falkirk has become a popular tourist destination steeped in history with top visitor attractions, great outdoor spaces and facilities.
One Day in Falkirk: Access Forth Valley Itinerary
Without further ado, here is my accessibility guide to visiting Falkirk covering the main attractions and some lesser-known gems in the town.
Of course, there are lots more to see and do in Falkirk if you are planning on spending more time in the area, but I hope this helps you plan your trip to Falkirk.
Callendar House & Park
The first stop of the day was a visit to Callendar House & Park. This beautiful 170 acre park is one of my favourite places in Falkirk to visit especially when the sun is shining.
We arrived around 10 am and enjoyed a stroll around the grounds which are wheelchair accessible. The park also contains a part of the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site dating back to 142AD.
Although we didn’t venture into the woodland trails throughout Callendar Park on this occasion, we have previously and thoroughly enjoyed them.
It was then time for our self-guided tour of Callendar House. This stunning French-style chateau dates back to the 14th Century. And it’s completely free to visit.
The main entrance has steps but just follow the path on the left that leads to the wheelchair accessible entrance. There is an automatic push button to operate the door.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t working, but thankfully the door was open and we were able to enter. I believe there is also a portable ramp that staff can place down to access the main entrance and gift shop.
Once inside we began ‘The Story of Callendar House’ tour. It was interesting to learn of its history dating back to 1345 when the Livingston family were granted the Callendar Estate by King David II.
There are displays about the history from the Roman era, the Jacobite era through to the present day.
There is a lift to access the upper floors. Though it is a small lift, Allan and I were able to fit inside. Larger wheelchairs and mobility scooters may struggle.
Accessible toilets with automatic doors can be found on each floor inside Callendar House. Here are photos of two accessible toilets with different layouts.
Callendar Park has lush greenery, a large boating pond, a children’s playpark, mini-golf, a snacks kiosk, toilets and tree-lined paths and trails throughout.
It’s easy to spend anything from a couple of hours to most of the day wandering and relaxing in the park.
Accessibility Tip: There are two car parks at Callendar Park. One is close to Callendar House and the other is further away but close to the kid’s playpark. However, accessible parking spaces can be found right at the front of Callendar House (see above photo).
Georgian Kitchen at Callendar House
No visit to Callendar House is complete without visiting the Georgian kitchen. As we entered the kitchen we were greeted by the large roaring wood fire.
A friendly staff member dressed in a traditional maid costume welcomed us and told us stories of what life was like working in this kitchen.
There are lots of interesting objects that were used back in the day. Plus recipes from the Georgian period.
And if you are an Outlander fan, then you will recognise the kitchen was used as a filming location in Outlander Season 2.
There are lots of Outlander filming locations in Falkirk and West Lothian along with many other TV and movies.
As a result, Falkirk Council and West Lothian Council worked together on the Film on Forth project and created four itineraries featuring local filming locations. Two of the itineraries are Outlander themed.
Callendar House Tea room
We couldn’t leave Callendar House without visiting the tearoom for tea and cake. We opted for a table with a view of the beautiful park. It was lovely.
Address: Callendar Rd, Falkirk FK1
Falkirk Town Centre – Heritage Tour
The starting point of the tour was in the heart of the town centre at Falkirk’s landmark ‘The Steeple’.
Built in 1814, the 140 foot high structure dominates Falkirk High Street and was once the local jail with the two prison cells still there to this day.
Allan got to see inside the prison cell and snap a photo of Falkirk High Street from the top of The Steeple.
There are cobblestones surrounding the Steeple and the old historic alleyways around the area with some of these little streets still in their original state.
The Falkirk Town Centre history and heritage tour covers many sites of interest including Trinity Church, Steeple, Cow Wynd, The Tattie Kirk and the historic closes.
We found it incredibly fascinating to discover Falkirk town centre’s history thanks to Janice being a fantastic tour guide.
From visiting the old Barrs Iron Brew site, we learned that Falkirk was the birthplace of Scotland’s other national drink – Irn Bru. How cool is that?
Something else that shocked us was learning that Robert Burns stayed at the Cross Keys Inn on Falkirk High Street on the first night of his Highland tour on 25th August 1787.
During his stay, he etched a verse into the window of the inn. The windowpane is currently on display at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.
There is now a plaque on the former Cross Keys Inn building which says “Robert Burns Poet slept here August 25th 1787”. Although some say the date is slightly off.
We also learned that in 1925 Scottish inventor, John Logie Baird gave an early demonstration of the television in Falkirk.
Other than the cobblestones in some areas, I found Falkirk town centre to be wheelchair accessible. The paths are fairly flat with lowered kerbs. There was a slightly steep slope up to Trinity Church but this was manageable in my power wheelchair.
Falkirk Town Heritage Trail has 25 sites of interest in and around the town. Each site of interest has a blue plaque detailing the location and its historical importance. Just keep a look out for the plaques while visiting Falkirk Town centre and prepare to be amazed by the local history.
Scroll through the photos below showing a selection of blue plaques in Falkirk Town centre.
Accessibility Tip: We found accessible parking next to the Abuzzmobility shop on Baxter’s Wynd and walked through the close and onto Falkirk High Street. The Steeple was a two minute walk from the car park.
Lunch in Arnotdale House & Cafe at Dollar Park
After a busy morning, it was now time for lunch. We made our way to Dollar Park where we had a table booked at Arnotdale House & Cafe.
Dollar Park is a lovely little green space with beautiful gardens that we enjoy visiting from time to time. This time we were in for a real treat with our first visit inside Arnotdale House for lunch.
We both had the minestrone soup which was delicious. So good in fact, Allan plans on making his own homemade minestrone soup. I also had a hummus and pepper sandwich which was equally lovely.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without having cakes. Yes, more cakes!
There is accessible parking directly outside the building as well as a bright and welcoming step-free entrance and an accessible toilet.
Not only is Arnotdale House & Cafe a great place to visit in Falkirk with delicious food and the most attentive and friendly staff, but it also plays a big part in the charitable work of Cyrenians.
Cyrenians is a charity that tackles the causes and consequences of homelessness in Scotland. Visiting the cafe is directly contributing to the charity work carried out by Cyrenians.
The cafe also has a lovely atmosphere. We are already looking forward to our next visit.
Before or after visiting Arnotdale House and Cafe, I highly recommend a stroll around the park and don’t miss the beautiful Walled Garden. The photo below is from a previous visit to Dollar Park and the Walled Garden. Just beautiful!
Address: Arnotdale House and Cafe, Dollar Park, Camelon Rd, Falkirk FK1 5SQ
Kinneil Estate and Museum
With full bellies, we headed to the next stop on our Visit Falkirk itinerary to Kinneil Estate and Museum in Bo’ness.
The sun was still shining when we arrived at the beautiful estate for a museum tour with Robert. He was very passionate and full of local knowledge. We chatted to him for ages and learned so much.
Kinneil Museum is located in the 17th century stable building of Kinneil House. The ground floor exhibition and upper floor gallery tell the story of Bo’ness and the Kinneil Estate.
The museum is small but I didn’t have any difficulty moving around between rooms downstairs. The upper floor is only accessed via stairs and therefore not wheelchair accessible.
If we had more time we would have loved to explore the grounds around Kinneil House as the park is lovely and packed with history.
There is part of the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site and one of its fortlets, as well as James Watt’s workshop which was used to develop the improved steam engine, and it’s part of the John Muir Way.
There is a wheelchair accessible ramp to enter the museum with cobblestones at the reception area and an accessible toilet. Admission is free of charge.
Address: Duchess Anne Cottages, Bo’ness EH51 0PR
Top Tip: Download ‘Falkirk Explored’ app and discover places to visit, and walking trails along the Falkirk District. The app also has audio guides developed by locals who share stories of Falkirk. Plus 360 tours including a tour of Kinneil House.
Looking for more things to do in Bo’ness?
If you are looking to spend more time in Bo’ness there are plenty of things to see and do.
Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway
Whether you are a trainspotter or not, a visit to Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway to see the steam trains is quite a cool experience. Thomas the Tank engine makes special appearances from time to time. It’s important to note that the railway museum is currently undergoing a revamp to improve its accessibility.
Bo’ness Motor Museum
Browse the private collection of classic cars and James Bond (007) vehicles and memorabilia at Bo’ness Motor Museum. The collection includes the Lotus Esprit SI from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and the BMW 750 from ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’.
Or catch a movie at The Hippodrome, Scotland’s oldest purpose-built picture house from 1912. This pre-art deco cinema screens a range of old movies and new releases. It is wheelchair accessible and has a number of autistic friendly viewings.
The Kelpies at The Helix
We left Bo’ness and headed back to Falkirk to visit The Helix. It was the perfect way to end a fun day exploring the Falkirk area.
The Helix is a large recreational parkland and visitor attraction with a range of activities, cycling and walking trails, a lagoon, wetlands and a kid’s play park.
The Helix Park is also The Home of the Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures in the world.
Created by artist Andy Scott, these giant 30 metre high horse heads are now iconic and the main attraction at The Helix for the local community and tourists. They are named after the real-life models, Duke and Baron.
The Kelpies dominate the landscape and can also be seen from the M9 motorway. They represent the horses of the Scottish industry that once pulled wagons, barges and coal ships.
It was very peaceful with far fewer people around when we arrived around 5pm. We enjoyed a stroll around the Helix park before stopping at The Kelpies for some photos.
The visitor centre at The Kelpies has a cafe, gift shop and toilets including an accessible toilet. You will even enjoy a fantastic view of the Kelpies from inside the visitor centre and cafe.
There are two car parks; one at The Helix and one located closer to The Kelpies.
However, there are also several disabled parking bays available directly outside the visitor centre as well (see photo below).
The visitor centre closes at 5pm, but there is a block of toilets located in the car park including a Changing Places toilet.
Address: The Helix, Falkirk, Grangemouth FK2 7ZT
Dinner at Christie’s Scottish Tapas
There are so many great Falkirk restaurants to choose from. But on this occasion, we went to one we’ve never been to before, Christie’s. Christie’s Scottish Tapas restaurant is located in Manor Street with a range of “Traditional Scottish food served TAPAS STYLE!”
They refer to tapa as “simply a braw wee plate of Scran” Scran is a Scottish slang word for food. They also cater for different dietary requirements including vegan and gluten-free.
The main restaurant is on the ground floor and there is an accessible toilet. The first floor of the restaurant is accessed via stairs.
Address: 104-108 Manor St, Falkirk FK1 1NU
Zetland Park in Grangemouth is another great public park to visit when visiting the Falkirk area. The park has been going through redevelopment by the Zetland Park Regeneration Project for a few years now and the changes are incredible.
One of the most exciting changes is the newly built inclusive play park complete with a wheelchair (ability) swing. To use the ability swing a RADAR key is required to unlock the gate and access the wheelchair securement straps.
It’s a lovely park to visit with kid’s activities including a bike track, mini-golf, cabin selling refreshments and during school holidays there are usually bouncy castles and lots more fun things to do.
There are also beautiful flower gardens and wheelchair accessible paths throughout the entire park.
Large grassy areas provide the perfect spot for picnics in the sun and tree-lined paths with benches for relaxing in the shade.
A Changing Places toilet is available in Grangemouth Sports complex, which is right next to Zetland Park.
I would highly recommend a visit to Falkirk if you’re planning a trip to Scotland. It’s a fantastic town and one I’m very familiar with, but I was shocked by how much I learned about its history that I had no idea about. Truly fascinating.
Falkirk has so many wheelchair accessible things to see and do and a passion to continue improving accessibility to make it a wonderfully accessible place to visit in Scotland.
Remember to check out Access Forth Valley for more itineraries and accessibility information for your visit to the Forth Valley area. Everything from heritage, family, outdoor, transport and more at www.accessforthvalley.com
Also, be sure to read about our two days exploring Loch Lomond, The Trossachs National Park and Stirling.
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Disclaimer: This guide is in collaboration with Visit Falkirk, but as always, all words are my own and 100% honest.