DAY trips from Rothesay to the scenic village Tarbert in Argyll on board the paddle steamer Waverley are set to end for good later this month, the paddler's operators have warned this week.
The Waverley's last visits of 2008 to the pretty hamlet a short distance from Loch Fyne will take place on August 5 and 19 - but Waverley Excursions Ltd (WEL) have announced that calls at Tarbert will cease for good after the latter date, bringing to an end 160 years of history, unless a large sum of money is found to restore the village's 130-year-old pier.
The paddler's Tuesday trip from Ayr to Largs, Rothesay, Tighnabruaich and Tarbert has long been a popular fixture on her Clyde summer cruising programme, and is one of the longest-standing fixtures on her annual schedule.
WEL is seeking support for the trust which owns Tarbert pier in a bid to secure the funds needed for its restoration.
Kathleen O'Neill, Waverley's commercial director, said: "Tarbert is one of our most popular trips and without the pier, Waverley will no longer be able to visit Loch Fyne.
"We urge all those who have enjoyed a trip aboard Waverley to Tarbert previously to support these last sailings, and all those involved in tourism to rally round and support the trust in their bid to obtain funding to restore the pier.
"Anyone who has never travelled by paddle steamer to Tarbert should do so now – it is likely to be the last chance!"
Known as the 'Royal Route to the Isles', the Tarbert trip follows the route of Queen Victoria, who made the trip famous on her first visit to Scotland in 1847.
The present timber pier was built in the 1870s to allow the Clyde steamer Columba to call on her daily sailings from Glasgow, a tradition kept alive by Waverley on her own for the last 30 years.