Waverley’s Highland Fling 2002


After a spell of seven years since her last sailings to Portree and Kyle it was good to see that visits to these ports were included in Waverley’s 2002 visit to the Western Isles. This was to be the longest visit by Waverley to the area since 1995. Although not extensive as the epic visits of 1989-90 when Waverley visited the Outer Hebridean ports of Stornoway, Tarert, Lochmaddy, Lochboisdale and Castlebay, the 2002 Hebridean programme, extensively planned by Captain Graeme Gellatly before he left for his new career as a South Wales pilot, offer great sailings in prospect. The high level of support during the ship’s 2001 visit to the Oban area encouraged a longer spell in 2002 – if only the excellent weather of 2001 could be repeated.


Waverley  at Glasgow Anderston Quay

(photo: Clydesite)

Waverley left her Glasgow base at Anderston Quay to head off Round the Mull of Kintyre to Oban (with calls at Largs, Campbeltown and Port Ellen) at 7am on Friday 3rd May. Not long after leaving passengers were able to see more evidence of the rapidly changing face of her native river. Just downstream of the Bell’s Swing Bridge another pedestrian bridge is being constructed across the river in connection with the new Glasgow Science Centre.



 Slightly further on at Yorkhill there is increasing evidence of plans for the new multi-million pound Glasgow Harbour development and it is this area – not much more than a stone’s throw from the site of the A & J Inglis shipyard where Waverley was built in 1946-47 - that is proposed as the ship’s new base adjacent to the planned new and expanded transport museum – which includes over 700 ship models. Sadly, across the Kelvin the huge edifice of the Meadowside Granary – the largest brick built building in Europe – is now being rapidly demolished to make way for the development.

The weather was fantastic, dry and sunny –just as it had been a year earlier and, indeed, for most of Waverley’s visits since her first sojourn to these waters in 1981. In command of Waverley that day was Captain Steve Mishel, a long-term lynchpin of the Waverley preservation movement

Waverley proceeded down the Clyde passing the BAE Systems shipyards at Govan and Scotstoun where future prospects have brightened recently through their success in winning part of the contract for 6 new Type 45 destroyers for the Royal Navy and the prospect of participating in the construction of two huge aircraft carriers over the next decade. The Govan yard was most famous under its former title – Fairfield – during which time it built over 700 ships ranging from paddle steamers (e.g. Jeanie Deans, Cardiff Queen, Koh-I-Noor, Prince of Wales )


Launch of the famous Clyde paddle steamer

Jeanie Deans

at the Govan shipyard of the

Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company

in 1931


to battleships (e.g. Barham, Howe) and ocean liners (Balmoral Castle, Empress of Britain). The Scotstoun yard is approaching its Centenary and retained its original title, Yarrow, until quite recently. Although best known now as warship builders, Yarrow was also specialist in shallow drafted river craft. They built many vessels for the Whanganui river fleet in New Zealand and at least one of the Clyde-built craft survives


Built by Yarrow at Scotstoun



This picture is from a superb website on the

Whanganui Riverboats

 by Cameron McNeill

Another Yarrow built craft that survives is the former Clyde passenger vessel Maid of Ashton which is a restaurant ship Hispaniola at the Embankment in London just upstream of Waterloo Bridge




On the Thames

Sadly, at Clydebank Waverley’s passengers witnessed the final days of the John Brown shipyard, arguably the most famous shipyard in the history of British shipbuilding. This yard produced many fine paddle steamers including MacBrayne’s Columba and Iona. The 1864 Iona sailed on the waters that Waverley would be revisiting over the next few days for 72 years, surely testimony to the quality of Clydebank ships.



Clydebank built paddle steamer


Calling at the island of Lismore near Oban which Waverley would pass a few days later


The most famous ships built at Clydebank are undoubtedly the three Cunard Queen liners Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Royal Yacht Britannia.


This view shows Queen Mary leaving the yard at Clydebank at the start of her illustrious career on 24th March 1936


It comes from a magnificent painting by Clyde-based marine artist Gordon Bauwens – click on the picture to access Gordon’s website


Soon all that will remain of the famous Clydebank shipyard will be the 1906 hammerhead crane built by structural engineering company Sir William Arrol at its Dalmarnock Iron Works in Glasgow  Scotland.


Waverley continued on in her excursion along the entire length of the Clyde and its Firth seen to its magnificent best that fine spring day. After Campbeltown the paddler continued around the far famed Mull of Kintyre to enter the seas of the Hebrides, long regarded as the exclusive territory of steamer operator David MacBrayne.


Highland steamboat operator

David MacBrayne




                MacBrayne publicity


Just before her intended arrival time at Oban North Pier, Captain Mishel brought the vessel alongside. It was just over 21 years since Waverley’s first visit to that pier and the seas around the Hebrides.


On Saturday Waverley operated another magnificent cruise in very fine weather to Tobermory and Armadale on the Isle of Skye. In many ways it was almost a repeat of that magnificent day exactly 52 weeks earlier  -see Bonnie Boat to Skye


Waverley at Oban North Pier preparing for Skye



                                                                                                Waverley at Tobermory



At Armadale some of Waverley’s passengers headed for the village of Ardvasar stopping frequently to take in the stunning views across the Sound of Sleat to Loch Nevis and Knoydart



Others visited the nearby Clan Donald centre, conveyed in a coach drawn by two magnificent West Highland Heavy Horses

Waverley and Lord of the Isles (or Tighearna nan Eilean in Gaelic) at Armadale



Lord of the Isles leaves for Mallaig framed by Waverley’s funnel

Back at Tobermory Waverley was joined by Caledonian MacBraynes’ bow loading ferry Raasay which operates across the Sound of Mull to Kilchoan


Some of Waverley’s keenest passengers joined the paddler at 7 am on Sunday morning for the sailing up Loch Linnhe to Fort William .

As Waverley prepared to leave the sun rose above McCaig’s Tower – Oban’s Coliseum - on the hill behind the town heralding another fine day

On the stroke of 7 Captain Mishel rang down to spring the paddler of the berth and away astern in a long slow arc


Captain Steve Mishel

maneuvering Waverley off her overnight berth at Oban

Across the bay the sail training ship Lord Nelson

was resting at the pier that serves the vessels of the

 Commissioner’s of Northern Lights,

Scotland’s equivalent of Trinity House


and, across at the Railway Pier, CalMac’s ferry

Isle of Mull prepared for another busy day.


Waverley’s early passengers were rewarded with a fine traditional breakfast and magnificent views in crystal clear atmosphere.









On reaching Fort William Waverley was magnificently reflected in the still waters of the loch



Until the still waters were rippled by the wake of the model tug ‘skippered’ by Chief Engineer Ken Henderson


Heading back down the loch Waverley passed the new ferry Corran, built in 2001 by George Prior Engineering at Hull, on the service to Ardgour. Followed by its fine lighthouse



She continued on close to the village pier of Lismore

 where MacBrayne’s Iona had called many years earlier.


At Oban she picked up may more passengers leaving immediately for her cruise to the Four Lochs



Threading a circuitous course through the many islands south of Oban she continued by Croabh Haven on her way south towards Loch Craignish. Beyond was the Whirlpool Gulf of Corryvreckan between the islands of Jura (left) and Scarba.



On the fourth day of her Hebridean tour Waverley revisited Iona as she had done a year earlier – see West Highland Finale 2001 - and many years since her first call in 1982. In the exceptionally fine conditions Capt Mishel was able to anchor Waverley very close to the island jetty.


Gordon Grant’s tenders Ossian of Staffa and Island Lass ferried over 400 passengers ashore while CalMac’s Loch Buie operated the regular ferry run from Sacred Iona to Fionnphort on the south west tip of  the island of Mull



On the way back to Oban some of Waverley’s most loyal supporters joined in an impromptu ‘sing song’ of favorite Scottish songs


Waverley returned to Oban in time for her passengers to enjoy one of the town’s famous sunsets.




The first stage of her 2002 Hebridean tour was complete – passengers looked forward to the next stage to Kyle and Portree – come back to find out what happened there


Stuart Cameron

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