Boat life is the best life! Boating on Tay is back for summer 2019 with regular boat trips scheduled along the Silvery Tay running from May until September. This year you have the option of two fantastic trips to choose from. If you fancy a short jaunt along the River Tay the leisure trip is the one for you, running for 50 mins starting and leaving at the Willowgate Activity Centre. The second option is for the thrill seekers and is a full day adventure from Broughty Ferry to Perth and back with enough exploring time in between.
Being the resident Dundonian in the Small City office I had the pleasure of packing up my husband and two year old son aptly named “River” and setting sail along the banks of the River Tay on the Broughty Ferry to Perth trip. The trip lasts approximately five hours and I can confirm it’s a fantastic way to spend the day, rain or shine! I can confirm it’s an absolutely fantastic way to spend the day, rain or shine!
Our trip set off at 12.45pm on a rather dreich Sunday. The vessel comfortably holds 12 people and we were joined by another two couples who had booked for a fun day set sail on the Tay. After being togged out in our life jackets we climbed aboard the "Terra Nova" ready for our adventure to begin. The boat has seats with seatbelts allowing kiddies and adults to be safely strapped in or if you prefer the thrill of the open water you can choose to sit at the rear of the boat in a padded seating area where you can sit and enjoy the views of Perth and beyond.
Our crew for the day were captain and skipper Belinda and Norman Chalmers. The husband and wife team had great enthusiasm and passionately told us tales of the River Tay, delving into the local history of the landmarks that sit along the riverbank. It was fantastic to be led by such a knowledgeable crew who made sure everyone was relaxed and had a brilliant time.
It was clear that both Belinda and Norman love their job taking tourists out to explore the river and it was captivating hearing the stories and historical facts of Scotland’s castles, Lords, Ladies It was captivating hearing the stories and historical facts of Scotland’s castles, Lords and Ladies and even its bridges! Who knew that Perth Railway Bridge was originally made from wood in 1849 and opened sideways?! I certainly didn’t! It was fascinating to see our local landmarks that we almost take for granted in a completely new light. I make the commute from Dundee to Perth twice a week and have never noticed the figure of the “bear and the ragged staff” which is cut into the scenic hillside on Park Hill, southeast of Lindores Abbey right next to Newburgh. It’s constructed from a shallow trench where the vegetation is regularly removed and can sometimes be seen lit up by fairy lights. Next time I make the journey home I will glance over at the hill to see if I can spot it again.
The journey to Perth takes around 1hr 50 mins with a stop at the V&A Dundee where you can take in the impressive architecture by Kengo Kuma who was inspired by Scotland’s natural landscape. As the boat sales off towards Perth you can glance back and see how the V&A has been built to take the shape of a large ship when looked at from certain angles. The boat slows as it passes Willowgate Activity Centre which was bustling with people engaging in fun activities. My toddler River enjoyed waving at every single person who was out on a kayak, thankfully they all enthusiastically waved back which made his day. We continued our journey past Newburgh and into Perthshire taking in the impressive picturesque scenery and spotting swans and even ospreys nestling along the shore line.
Once we arrived at Fergusson Pontoon which is only a hop, skip and jump from the city centre we were instructed to be back at the boat in one hour and forty five minutes. The challenge had been set! How many sites of Perth could we squeeze into the time frame. We walked across to The Fergusson Gallery and had 15 minutes of taking in the splendid gallery which is full of the work of influential artist JD Fergusson and his lifelong companion Margret Morris. I had a very hungry two year old in tow so strolled accross to the newly reopened South Inch Pavillion which looks over the fantastic play park at the South Inch. The pavilion boasts a vast menu with healthy options which were really tasty and inexpensive. Lunch for three with coffee and juice was under £15! Once refuelled we still had enough time for River to burn off some energy and run around the playpark where he insistently told everyone that he had just been on a “really big boat”. After telling all the mums, dads, granny and grandads that were chaperoning their little ones about our fabulous boat journey we went back to the pontoon to continue our journey home.
River was delighted to be given the captains hat and posed for some cute snaps alongside the boat. My husband Richard who is an even bigger kid was pleased when Norman asked if he wanted to have a shot driving the boat under supervision. Thanks Norman – I think you have made my families year!
I would highly recommend this trip for all age groups. Our boat trip ranged from age two to late seventies and everyone had a brilliant time, ending the day with big smiles on our faces and thanking the excellent crew. We will 100% be back again for another trip this summer.