Facts About the River Tay ( UK )

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.
facts about the River Tay, River Tay facts,

The River Tay starts life 1,837 feet up on the slopes of Ben Lui, the highest peak in the group of the four monros of Ben Lawers, situated in Scotland's southern highlands.

The river makes its way down the mountain through Lochs Dochart and Lubhair, where it is known by several different names, 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 - famous for being the site of Scotland's oldest inn, the Kenmore Hotel built in 1572 - and flows eastwards for 120 miles into the United Kingdom's largest river drainage basin, the 25 mile long, 2,000 square mile basin, the Firth of Tay, which then goes on to drain into the North Sea. 

The River Tay is Scotland's longest river and the United Kingdom's 7th longest river and largest river by water volume discharge, at 100 cubic metres per second.

The River Tay feeds four lochs along its route, the Lochs Rannoch, Ericht, Earn and Ba and has hundreds of tributaries including the larger Rivers Almond, Earn, Isla, Lyon and Tummel.

The river passes through the southern highland towns of Dunkeld, Perth, Aberfeldy and Invergowrie and the city of  Dundee. 


                               The River Tay catchment area showing it's myriad of tributaries.

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 the Tay Estuary ( Firth of Tay ), the 10,709 foot long Tay Rail Bridge between Dundee and Wormit which opened in 1878 and was the longest bridge in the world at that time, it also went on to became synonomous one year after it's completion for the Tay Bridge disaster of 1879, that caused the deaths of 70 + people.

The other notable bridge is 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.


                                         Image courtesy of Stanley Howe, wikimedia commons.

                             Loch Tay showing the start of the River Tay proper at Kenmore

The River Tay runs through picturesque, atypical Scottish countryside of highland glens and lowland pastures popular with hikers, bikers and nature lovers and hosts miles of rugged coastline dotted with golf links. 

The river itself is considered to be the United Kingdom's best fishing river, having as it does unlimited, quality supplies of Salmon, Trout, Lamprey and freshwater mussels. Ten thousand hectares of the river have been designated a Special Area of Conservation ( SAC ) due to it's Atlantic Salmon population.

Popular areas along it's route include Scotland's fourth largest city, Dundee and the historical town and former royal borough of Perth, the Firth of Tay's 32 acre Mugdrum Island - which is now a nature reserve for wild fowl and imfamous for being the birthplace of a two headed kitten born in the 19th century -  a myriad of small Scottish towns and villages offering historic places of interest such as castles, churches, abbeys, historic monuments, royal residences and local museums. Other attractions include pubs and cafes offering local delicacies and beverages, local craft wear shops, golf courses, formal gardens and whisky distilleries. 



                                         The Tay Rail Bridge spanning the Firth of Tay

The area that surrounds the River Tay is collectively known as Tayside and covers the counties of Perth and Kinross, Angus, Fife and the City of Dundee.

The river is known as Tatha in Scot's Gaelic.

For visitor information to the area, visit -  www.perthshire.co.uk/index.

For an account of the Tay Bridge Disaster, visit - digital.nls.uk/scotlandspages/timeline/1879.


For England's longest riverfacts-about-the-river-severn-uk

For Ireland's longest river - facts-about-the-river-shannon-roi 

For Wales' longest river - facts-about-the-river-towy-uk

                           Title image, Smeaton's Bridge, Perth, courtesy of  K.S. Brown, wikimedia commons.


jack knight
Posted on Jul 2, 2015
James Macnaughton
Posted on Sep 27, 2012