She has been a regular visitor to Helensburgh and Kilcreggan for decades, sailing down the Clyde – and now the Waverley has marked the 75th anniversary of her maiden voyage.

The iconic paddle steamer set off on a cruise on Thursday, June 16, mirroring the route the vessel was built to serve.

Setting off from Greenock, her route on Thursday included a call at Kilcreggan en route to Loch Goil before a cruise to Arrochar - not unlike the regular journeys she made from Craigendoran to Arrochar until 1973.

The steamer pier at Arrochar closed in 1977 and is now a derelict ruin - but Thursday's special cruise did include a brief call at Ardnagal pier, on the opposite bank of Loch Long.  

The Waverley’s journey on Thursday may have been similar to that of her maiden voyage, but the world around her has changed almost beyond recognition.

She was the last steamer built to serve the Clyde coast and has become the final seagoing paddle steamer anywhere in the world.

Paul Semple, general manager of the Waverley, commented: “It is a fantastic achievement that Waverley is sailing today. So many people have played a part in her story and everyone who steps aboard helps ensure her continued success.

"In Waverley’s lifetime the world has changed dramatically, yet she has survived. Waverley is possibly the ultimate example of preserving our nation’s proud maritime and steam heritage.”

Helensburgh Advertiser: The Waverley's crew celebrate the vessel's 75th anniversaryThe Waverley's crew celebrate the vessel's 75th anniversary

Mr Semple continued: “Waverley is unique, from the moment passengers step board they can feel the heritage – the polished brass fittings, the traditional wooden decks, the aroma of hot oil and steam. Unlike more modern ships Waverley feels alive with the beat of her paddles and the sound of her whistle. People stop to admire as she passes by, the sight of her famous funnels is instantly recognisable.”

Rising costs

It isn’t all plain sailing for the famous, vessel, however. The cost of fuel has escalated to £12 per minute – meaning a typical day’s fuel costs more than £7,000. Derek Peters, chairman of Waverley Steam Navigation Co Ltd, the charity that owns Waverley, added: “I hope that enough passengers will choose to come for a sail and help us celebrate the Diamond Jubilee this summer.”

The celebratory sailing marked the start of Waverley’s summer 2022 cruise programme, with the ship now operating each day on the Firth of Clyde until late August with a variety of cruises Doon the Watter and around the Clyde coast.

Tickets for all of Waverley’s sailings can be purchased online or by calling 0141 243 2224. Tickets are also available to be purchased on board the steamer.