White Water Rafting On The River Tay Scotland

 By: Robert MacLaren
With its serene and breathtaking scenery, the River Tay is 120 miles long, making it the longest Scottish river and a popular choice for white water rafting and kayaking. It is also famous for salmon fishing and wildlife spotting, particularly in the estuary where bottle nosed dolphins and seals can be seen.

Flowing down from the Scottish Highlands, the Tay meanders southeast through Perthshire to Dundee and the Firth of Tay on the east coast. It is fed by several tributaries and the Tay officially begins where it flows out of Loch Tay. The pretty market town of Aberfeldy, on the upper reaches of the river, has become a busy centre for outdoor sports, particularly river-based activities. A six mile stretch down river from here provides excellent white water rafting fun, starting at a gentle pace and gradually increasing the intensity as it flows through a series of grade 2-3 rapids. The river is runnable all year round and this increases its popularity further.

With craggy mountains on the horizon and forested hills all around, the slower sections of the River Tay have a tranquil atmosphere that brings you close to nature and has inspired poets and painters through the years. Waterfalls, gorges and leafy glens abound, such as the Birks of Aberfeldy, a magical Site of Specific Scientific interest where rare plants can be seen. Birch, Oak Ash and Elm trees flourish along the river's scenic route, and badgers, river voles and aquatic birds can be spotted.

A little further down river from Aberfeldy, the Tay picks up speed and negotiates some rocky rapids on its journey to the sea. With names such as Zoom Flume and the Washing Machine, these sections are great fun in a raft, and not too scary for beginners. Grandtully is the most challenging of these and is usually where half day trips from Aberfeldy come to a natural end. It has an initial fall, then a rocky island outcrop to steer around, followed by another drop. A slalom course for canoes is a permanent fixture on this section of the river.

At Grandtully the power and raw beauty of the Tay is at its most spectacularly impressive. From here the river widens, meandering its way towards Perth. This section is particularly popular in the Summer, and has eddys, challenging rapids such as Hell Hole Corner and big sweeping turns. Throughout its length, the Tay goes from calm and slow to fast and furious, through ever-changing views of the Scottish countryside. All in all, the best way to appreciate everything it has to offer, from dramatic scenery and wild animals to crystal clear water and rocky rapids is to paddle down it.
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