Scotland’s rivers: catch the bug.

We’ve been enthralled by The River – BBC Scotland’s portrayal of life along the River Tweed in the Borders. Rugby to racehorses, trekking to mountain biking, fishing to chocolate … the series has shown the integral workings of a rural community. But The Tweed is just one of Scotland’s great rivers – and there are many, many more that provide the very lifeblood to our countryside. What’s your favourite?


When you think of Scottish rivers it is hard not to think of fishing – especially for salmon and trout: fishing attracts tourists from across the world. Their spend brings in millions of pounds to rural communities and thousands of jobs are sustained as a result – from working on the rivers and those businesses providing all the required equipment, from hotels and restaurants to numerous shops selling all manner of Scottish produce. The Tweed is no exception.

At 97 miles in length, it is Scotland’s fourth longest – with the Tay, Clyde and Spey taking the medals at 120, 109 and 107 miles respectively. We take a look at the triumvirate.


The River Tay

The Tay boasts the largest catchment – drawing its waters from close to 3,000 square miles, primarily Scotland’s lower Highlands. Although it flows into the North Sea at the Tentsmuir Nature Reserve between Fife & Angus, it starts its journey way out west – on the slopes of Ben Lui – not far from the sea shores of the Loch Fyne.

The river is a ‘must visit’ for those who love to fish. It is the home of record catches including a whopper 64lb salmon caught by Miss Georgina Ballantine back in 1922 – still the UK record.  Many other fish over 40lbs have been caught, although these are not all attributed to the Tay, but to its many tributaries that provide outstanding fishing opportunities: the Earn, Isla, Ericht, Tummel, Garry, Dochart, Lyon and Eden.

At the east end of Loch Tay, the river emerges at Kenmore before flowing through the picturesque Aberfeldy and Dunkeld … and onto the city of Perth. This corner of Scotland – Highland Perthshire – is an unrivalled paradise for those who love the great outdoors. Whether white water rafting, gorge walking or taking part in one of the fastest-growing adventure sports, canyoning, there is an activity for everyone.

Beyond the city of Perth, the river becomes tidal – the Firth of Tay – creating a playground for lovers of many watersports. The waterfront development in Dundee – including the building of the V&A Dundee – is transforming the area. There are even plans for river boat cruises between Perth & Dundee to take advantage of the area’s regeneration.



The River Clyde

The Clyde is synonymous with industry – powering mills in Scotland’s heartland (including the UNESCO World Heritage Site at New Lanark) as well as shipbuilding through Glasgow and along the banks to the firth. The river’s source is just 6 miles west of the Tweed’s, in the Lowther Hills – between Moffat & Biggar. Just as the Tay drains thousands of square miles of Scotland, so does the Clyde.

The river’s catchment includes the stunning Loch Lomond, providing some outstanding fishing and water-based activities. You name it, you’ll find it here: canoeing, rib rides, paddle boarding and more. The loch – 21 miles from ened to end – has a surface area of some 270 square miles and is fed by a number of small burns and two rivers, the most significant is the Endrick.

The River Spey

The Spey descends through some of Scotland’s most outstanding natural scenery – rising in the Monadhliath Mountains at Loch Spey, just 10 miles south of Fort Augustus on Loch Ness – and journeying north east through the Cairngorms National Park and onwards to the Moray Firth.


The Spey is unusual in that its speed increases as it gets closer to the sea. The unique topography make it the fastest flowing river in Scotland. The Met Office monitors rainfall throughout the Spey’s catchment. Much of the precipitation during winter lies as snow, playing an important role in maintaining the river’s flow levels well into summer and give the Spey what many describe as an alpine flow regime. Combined with almost no industrial activity in the Spey’s catchment, the water quality is as near to pristine as you ca get. The result? Fish! Atlantic salmon, migratory sea trout and resident brown trout as well as eel, char, pike, minnow and flounder. If you want to plan a fishing trip for the 2017 season, check FishPal’s information.

Speyside’s distilleries produce more whisky than any other region in Scotland. The two best-selling single malt whiskies in the world, The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, are from Speyside – and the The Malt Whisky Trail is a must for lovers of the dram. And whilst we’re talking Trails, the Speyside Way is a fabulous long distance path that follows the Spey from Aviemore to the coast through more than 60 miles of stunning countryside.



Places of interest … to stay, visit, eat & drink …


The Tay has an abundance of visitor services. We’ve selected just a handful …


Near the source of the Clyde you’ll find three unique attractions:

  • Leadhills & Wanlockhead Narrow Gauge Railway is Britain’s highest narrow gauge railway.
  • The Museum of Lead Mining is a fascination visit where you can take a tour to explore the mine and also have a go at panning for gold!
  • The Scrib Tree – just north of the railway and mining museum: a fabulous country emporium in the heart of the Lanarkshire village of Douglas. They sell quality farm produce, fine coffee, perfect cakes and beautiful gifts.


Need more?

Check these links for more information to help you discover these and more rivers, the areas they cover and their communities …

Walk Highlands  Pitlochry Outdoor Activities   Vertical Descents   Nae Limits
Can You Experience   The Malt Whisky Trail   Dundee Sailing Club

The River is available to buy & keep from the BBC: follow this link for information.

To discover more on each river – please visit the relevant pages on FishPal’s website where you’ll find a wealth of information:

The River Tay  The Clyde  The Spey

We’d like to thank the folk at FishPal for their help in creating this Blog: for regular updates on their activities, please like them on Facebook.

Looking for a unique fishing gift? FishPal sell Gift Vouchers – perfect for your perfect catch!