Today I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the River Tay. For those of you, who have visited Lowes and stopped off in Dunkeld, the River Tay is the river running through Dunkeld.
The River Tay (Gaelic: Tatha) is the longest river in Scotland and the seventh-longest in the United Kingdom. The River Tay starts life 1,837 feet up on the slopes of Ben Lui. The slopes of Ben Lui, near Tyndrum, have been accepted as the head of the River Tay since 1780. The river makes it’s way down the mountain through Lochs Dochart and Lubhair, before draining into Loch Tay situated at the bottom of the northern slopes of this mountain group.
Loch Tay is a freshwater lake 14 miles long by 1 1/2 miles wide and 490 feet deep which covers an area of 26 square miles. Loch Tay goes on to drain into the River Tay at the site of the village of Kenmore and flows from there to Perth which, in historical times, was the lowest bridging point of the river. Below Perth the river becomes tidal and enters the Firth of Tay. The largest city on the river, Dundee, lies on the north bank of the Firth. Upon reaching the North Sea, the River Tay has flowed 120 miles (193 km) from west to east across central Scotland. The Tay is also unusual amongst Scottish rivers in having several major tributaries, notably the Earn, the Isla, the Tummel, the Almond and the Lyon.
The river is spanned by only 9 bridges along it’s route, the most noteable of these being the two bridges that cross the river on theTay Estuary ( Firth of Tay ) the 10,709 foot long Tay Rail Bridge between Dundee and Wormit opened in 1878 – which was the longest bridge in the world at that time and became synonomous one year after it’s completion for the Tay Bridge disaster of 1879 that caused the deaths of 70 + people – and the 1.4 mile long Tay Road Bridge that links Dundee with Newport – on – Tay, opened in 1966.
The oldest bridge to span the River Tay is the stone built, multi – arched Smeaton’s Bridge at Perth, built in 1766.
Perth is also the site of two other bridges that span the river, the Perth Railway Bridge, built in 1863 and the Queen’s Bridge built in 1960.
A view of the frozen River Tay from the North Inch at Perth, during the winter of 1895. Local photographer Magnus Jackson took a series of photographs of snowy scenes in and around the town. The Perthshire Constitutional newspaper of 12 February 1895 commented ‘The keen frost still prevails and for more than a week the Tay has been completely frost-bound. On Saturday afternoon there must have been between 5,000 and 6,000 people on the river. Cyclists had little difficulty in going freely over the ice. The photograph also shows (Perth) Smeaton’s Bridge, which was over 100 years old by then.
A flow of 2269 m3/s was recorded on 17 January 1993, when the river rose 6.48 metres above its usual level at Perth, and caused extensive flooding in the city. Were it not for the hydro-electric schemes upstream which impounded runoff, the peak would have been considerably higher.
The highest ever flood at Perth occurred in 1814, when the river rose 7 m above the usual level, partly caused by a blockage of ice under the Smeaton’s Bridge. Other severe flood events occurred in 1210 and 1648 when earlier bridges over the Tay at Perth were destroyed.
In November 2001, Perth welcomed a new £25 million flood defence system.
The river is of quite high biodiversity value and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) maintaining a flagship population of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), Freshwater Pearl Mussel (Margaritifea margaritifera) and native species such as the Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra). Freshwater pearl mussels are one of Scotland’s most endangered species and the River Tay hosts two-thirds of the world’s remaining stock.
The Tay is internationally renowned for its Atlantic salmon fishing and is one of the best salmon rivers in the United Kingdom, and western Europe, attracting anglers from all over the world. The largest ever rod caught salmon in Britain which was caught on the Tay by Miss Georgina Ballantine in 1922, weighing 64 lbs, and remains the British Record. The extensive river system has excellent salmon fisheries on many of its tributaries including the Earn, Isla, Ericht, Tummel, Garry, Dochart, Lyon and Eden. Dwindling catches include a 50% reduction in 2009 so the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board ordered a catch-and-release policy for females all season, and for males until May, beginning with the January 2010 fishing season. Research by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation has shown that the number of salmon dying at sea has doubled or trebled over the past 20 years, possibly due to overfishing in the oceans where salmon spend two years before returning to freshwater to spawn. The widespread collapse in Atlantic salmon stocks suggests that this is not solely a local problem for salmon in the River Tay.
A common sight along the Tay is the many species of swans, ducks and geese. Both black-headed gulls and herring gulls are often seen hunting and swooping for fish throughout the year. Visitors to the river will often see magnificent herons, standing motionless in the shallow water by the Tay islands, awaiting their next meal.
Perhaps the most surprising inhabitant of the river is the seal, which has often been seen catching salmon throughout the winter along with otters which have also been spotted, although on rare occasions.
Dolphins have also been spotted near Broughty Ferry at Dundee.
Perhaps though the most infamous inhabitant of the river’s tributaries is the ……Beaver.
Please see this link to view Ann’s post on the Tay Beavers
and if you’re on facebook, please have a look at this page
The Dyfi Osprey Project and the Scottish wildlife Trust have kindly given their permission for us to post still and video images from their webcams. To visit their sites please click on the relevant link. Loch of the Lowes. Dyfi Osprey Project.