Boat trips on the River Tweed from Berwick are set to resume with hopes high that the season ahead will build on the success of last year’s trial.
Nearly 500 visitors and local residents took a trip on cruises operated from the quayside pontoon last summer with an average capacity in excess of 50 per cent.
Organisers have been so encouraged by the uptake that they have increased the number of sailings and introduced a weekend service.
Last year, services only ran on Tuesdays and Thursdays because the operator had other commitments.
However, this year’s timetable includes services on other days of the week, including Sunday, which opens the door for local families and weekend visitors to get on board.
Derek Sharman, one of the organisers of the project, said: “Given the limited publicity we were able to commit to the boat trips last year, we were delighted with the level of demand for tickets and with the very positive comments recorded in our passenger survey.
“The success of last season’s service means that we can offer more trips on David Thompson’s boat “On a Promise” this year, including some Sunday sailings.
“We expect that the number of trips will be increased again in 2015.”
Looking ahead, Mouth of the Tweed would also welcome enquiries from other operators who may be interested in using the landing facility.
“Increasing the variety of services using the pontoon will help ensure the viability of its operation into the future,” said Mr Sharman.
Although the service only began in July, more than 75 trips were run during last season with an average capacity in excess of 50 per cent. Approximately half of the passengers were visitors and half were local residents.
As last year, there will be a mix of cruises upstream as far as the Union Chain Bridge and shorter trips in the Tweed Estuary, which offer a different view of Berwick’s fine bridges, the town and the riverside fortifications.
The times and routes of sailings depend on the tide conditions on the day.
This season’s programme begins with a series of sailings over the Easter holiday period and continues into early October.
The first trip is a Chain Bridge cruise on Tuesday afternoon (April 15). Sailings to the iconic suspension bridge have also been organised for April 16-18. Sunday sailings start on April 20.
Establishing a boarding and landing facility for small boats at the quayside was one of the key objectives of the Mouth of the Tweed initiative.
The installation of the pontoon was made possible through the support of Cittaslow Berwick, Berwick Harbour Commission and a grant of £6,000 from the Berwick Portas Town Team to cover costs for a three year period.
A leaflet giving dates and times of scheduled sailings is available from Berwick Tourist Information Centre and other local outlets. The programme can also be found on www.mouthofthetweed.co.uk together with information about extra sailings and group bookings. Tickets can be booked at Audela Restaurant in Bridge Street.