THE paddle steamer Waverley's operators have announced that the famous ship will return to service on the Clyde this weekend – for her first cruises since October 2018.

The vessel, built in Glasgow in 1947, will undertake a short programme of cruises on 'home waters' between August 21 and September 5.

Her schedule – published online by Waverley Excursions Ltd on Tuesday – includes one call per week at Kilcreggan pier, leaving at 12 noon on August 21, August 28 and September 4 for a sail direct to Rothesay.

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There will, however, be no calls at Helensburgh, as the town's pier remains closed to all marine traffic on safety grounds – as it has been since the same month when the Waverley last sailed.

The Waverley hasn't carried passengers since the discovery, shortly before her 2019 season was due to begin, that her boilers needed replaced at an estimated cost of more than £2 million.

Following a major fund-raising campaign, which included a pledge of financial support from the Scottish Government, the boiler replacement work was carried out this summer.

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The ship, with only crew on board, carried out successful sea trials on the Clyde on Thursday, August 13 and Friday, August 14, and was spotted by many delighted observers – including the Rev Mitchell Bunting, minister at the United Reformed Church in Helensburgh, who took the picture above from his home in Kilcreggan.

Due to Covid-19 regulations the Waverley will operate with a significantly reduced capacity throughout her abbreviated 2020 programme, with social distancing measures in place on board, and tickets will only be available in advance.

Click here to view the ship's full sailing schedule for the next few weeks and for information on how to book tickets.

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