« Reply #1 on: Jul 04, 2010, 6:57 pm »
River Tay Hover Meet – September 2007

Four of us (me, Matt, Trev, and Steve) decided to take a trip on the river Tay in Scotland one Sunday in September.  The owner of the Tay Salmon Fisheries kindly gave us access to a launch site at Newburgh in Fife and gave us consent to travel on the non-tidal part of the river (upstream from Scone). The launch site was located on the south bank of the tidal estuary about 18 miles inland from the North Sea (think muddy Severn water but without the muddy banks!).  The estuary was about one mile wide at this point.  The slipway was in a very poor state of repair so we decided to launch from an adjacent gravel bank instead.  By this stage, the wind had picked up considerably to around 18-20mph and the chop was around 1 foot on the exposed estuary.  After a quick consult, we decided it would be wiser to head up river into the slightly more sheltered section rather than travel down towards Dundee and the bridges, as was originally planned.  Before launching we were interviewed and photographed by a reporter from the local paper (the Dundee Courier). After all the photo shoot stuff was finished, we did a quick radio check and set off upriver.

After about a mile, we had to make a short stop for some essential "maintenance" on a gravel bank before continuing.   We then had to pass by the main sewage works outfall – always an unpleasant experience!  This one was particularly stinky – a matter of keeping to the opposite bank and holding your breath for as long as possible.  Thank goodness our craft are all low spray!!  I did make a complaint to SEPA after returning – they investigated and found that the unmanned works had been dumping untreated sewage into the river that day – the craft got a thorough wash down after I found that out!!
Coming closer to Perth we decided to take the right side channel around a large island (it has a golf course on it!) as it looked clear on the map.  It was clear until we reached the far end to discover a big jumble of giant rocks put there to make a roadway over the river to the island!  Back we went and around the left side of the island past Perth Harbour and into the city itself (the river runs right through the centre of the city)

Travelling through the centre of Perth involves passing under three bridges (and waving to people on buses, etc!).  The last bridge had a stone weir under each of the six arches – no problem for a hovercraft!

After a lunch stop we made out way upriver passing Scone Palace.  The river is wide, smooth and slow moving at this stage.   We cruised slowly on upriver, stopping to check out anything interesting we spotted, passing by Stanley, where a big disused mill is at the rivers edge.
The mill used to have a water wheel driven by river water diverted across a river loop to generate power.  The large weir upstream used to “pool” the water for the mill, had three small breaks in it - the flow rate and level drop was impressive through these gaps!  All the craft passed through the weirs with ease. 

There were some very nice properties on the river edge - varying from "classical" large houses to ultra modern steel/glass types.  The house shown above had a large deck built overhanging the river on the crumbly sandstone cliff.  They had an almost vertical stair/ladder (shown on the left) from the rivers edge up to the top.[img align=right width=200]https://hoverclub.org.uk/gallery/1_04_07_10_6_55_52.jpeg[/img]
By this time the weather had improved considerably, blue skies, sunshine and warm!  The river scenery was breathtaking – it had wide, smooth stretches as well as rocky rapids and fast narrow sections with weirs between sandstone cliffs - a very interesting and challenging environment for any type of craft (not surprisingly, the only other craft we saw were canoes – all very friendly!).  Our final stop was near Cargill about 30 miles from our launch site.  We turned back and made our way back down river at a leisurely pace.

We parked on a sandy beach near Scone Palace. At this point, the river has silica sand banks (beach sand) - they must have been deposited eons ago by a long gone sea.

An Osprey being harassed by a sparrow hawk (or maybe it’s a Falcon – ornithology isn’t my strong point?).

Rounding the corner at Perth Harbour.
The return trip was uneventful until we reached the open estuary.  The wind was blowing directly up river at around 22mph and, combined with an incoming tide, the chop was quite amazing!  There were 2-3 foot “rollers” coming up river.  There was no sheltered route available so we just had to battle our way onward for about 4 miles!  All four craft handled the conditions fine – the human occupants weren’t too comfortable in them though!!

The Tay is probably the most beautiful river I have cruised so far – a stunning combination of interesting scenery, wildlife and challenging conditions- it’s one place I will definitely be returning to!  It’s also is the type of environment that a hovercraft excels in with its ability to travel over shallow water, weirs and rapids with ease.

There are a couple of video clips on www.youtube.com (search for “hovercraft Tay”) that may give you a better idea of the scenery, etc.

John Robertson

« Last Edit: Jul 09, 2010, 7:53 pm by John Robertson »