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The Great Outdoors: Kayak on the River Tay to lap up a sensational sunset and other stunning scenes

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The Tay is the longest river in Scotland, starting on the slopes of Ben Lui and meandering for 117 miles before flowing into the North Sea at Dundee.

There are numerous fantastic kayaking spots along its course but, living in Tayport, I’ve always wanted to explore the water close by.

You can enter the river from the harbour in Tayport but we chose to set off from Broughty Ferry to the north. Broughty Castle and the sandy beach and dunes provided a wonderful scene for our sunset kayak as we eased into the water at 6pm.

As a novice, I went with a group led by instructor Piotr Gudan of Outdoor Explore, who fitted me with a waterproof smock and life jacket before helping me choose a kayak.

As we had all done some paddling, we headed straight into the water for a bit more tuition on posture and turning.

None of us was expected to end up in the water, which I was nervous about, but we all remained warm and dry under fairly close supervision.

As soon as I got beyond the breakers and out onto the river I felt a fantastic freedom. Looking south was my hometown of Tayport with the Pile Light, pretty harbour and Tentsmuir Forest stretching out beyond.

We headed east towards the North Sea and the small town of Monifieth. Chatting with the other members of the group and looking out for the array of wildlife – the flock of migrating geese against the pinky-blue sky was a real treat – the paddling was easy and fun.

As the sun began to set we gathered together and turned our gaze west towards the two bridges linking Dundee and Fife with the stunning V&A building on the city’s waterfront and green fields to the south.

The clouds had mostly cleared as the sky all around us was transformed into a kaleidoscope of pastel colours interspersed with dashes of fiery red and bright yellows.

We continued our paddle to a point we were warned it was unsafe to pass and turned back. Hugging the coast and reading the water as advised, we identified the easiest water to battle back against the outgoing tide and river current.

With the light fading fast, we found ourselves also enjoying a night kayak. The castle silhouetted against the bluey-black sky provided an atmospheric scene and the warmth generated by my increased efforts kept me cosy.

Back on dry land I found I was famished, exhilarated and desperate to have another go.

Local Sights

The River Tay hosts one of only a few surviving pile lighthouses in the UK known as Tayport Pile Light.

Grey seals are often seen in the area and in summer dolphins are spotted.

Tentsmuir Forest dominates the skyline with its dark swathe of woodland and beach.