Travel by Steamer on Scotland’s Waterways

Built by Glasgow-based shipbuilders A&J Inglis, and launched in October 1946, the PS Waverley has an interesting history, and today offers leisurely trips to a variety of spectacular destinations along the waterways of Scotland, including the seaside resort of Ayr, Blairmore, the Isle of Arran, Ailsa Craig, Clydebank, Carrick Castle, Loch Tyne, Dunoon, Helensburgh, Kilcreggan, Rothesay, Armadale, Raasay, Inverie, the Isle of Iona, Mull of Kintyre and many more. As the world’s last remaining seagoing passenger-carrying paddle steamer, the PS Waverley is managed by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and is listed in the British National Register of Historic Ships.

Named after the first novel by Scottish novelist, poet and playwright Sir Walter Scott, the current PS Waverley replaced the original ship of that name which sank while evacuating troops from Dunkirk in 1940. Having been launched in October 1946, the paddle steamer was used by the London and North Eastern Railway to travel the route between Helensburgh and Arrochar, along Loch Long. With the nationalization of British railways in 1948, the steamer came under the ownership of the Railway Executive, with the color of its funnels changed from the red, white and black of the LNER to yellow topped with black. The Scottish red lion rampant was displayed on the funnels from 1965 onward. As passenger numbers dwindled and smaller piers started to close, the owner of PS Waverley at the time, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), withdrew the paddle steamer from service in 1973.

When the newly formed Paddle Steamer Preservation Society offered to buy the PS Waverley in 1973, CalMac sold it to them for £1. At the time it seemed unlikely that the steamer would return to service, but following a successful fund-raising drive, the vessel was restored and a cruise ship service was started. While the appearance of the PS Waverley has been restored to its 1946 form, with red, white and black funnels, a number of hi-tech features have been added for safety.

During the summer months, the PS Waverley is based on the Clyde River, offering various excursions between Glasgow, Greenock, Largs and Arg. When visiting this picturesque region of Scotland, why not grab the chance to steam ‘doon the watter’ on the PS Waverley?