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River Tay

The River Tay is one of the largest rivers in Britain, and is claimed to discharge more water into the sea than any other.  The main navigable section is a wide estuary.

Things to do nearby

Facts & Stats

31 miles

(50 km)

The length of the navigable River Tay.

77 feet

(23.5 metres)

Navigable headroom under the Tay Railway Bridge, at high tide.

11 feet

(3.35 metres)

Draught at Perth at highest tide

The Tay Bridge and other facts

The first Tay Bridge opened 1878. It was a low cost lightweight lattice design with a single track. On 28 December 1879, the bridge suddenly collapsed in high winds while a train was crossing, killing everybody on board. The incident is one of the worst bridge-related engineering disasters in history. An enquiry determined that the bridge was insufficiently engineered to cope with high winds.  It was replaced by a second bridge, opened in 1887, constructed of iron and steel, with 86 spans and a double-track railway, parallel to the remains of the first bridge.  Portions of the old bridge still exist, and can be a hazard to shipping.  The channel above the bridge is buoyed.  There is a road bridge downstream of the rail bridge.

A tributary, the River Earn, joins the Tay about 5 miles (8km) downstream of Perth Harbour, and is navigable for about 6 miles by light craft, as far as Bridge of Earn.

Perth and Kinross Council, the harbour authority for the port of Perth, has found itself unable to attract sufficient traffic to keep the port viable and is threatening to shut it down.  Read the full article.

[Left Photo: The Creator, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons ]

Waterway notes

Navigation authorities

Perth and Kinross District Council is navigation authority for the river from Perth downstream to Balmerino.  The work is contracted to Calmac.

Downstream of Balmerino to Buddon Ness the authority is Forth Ports Dundee, who took over from Dundee Harbour Trust in 1995.

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Sustainable Boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterways Heritage at Risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

You can help Save Waterways Heritage.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.