The World’s last seagoing paddle steamer is returning to cruise the Bristol Channel this Summer building on the exceptional success of the 2023 season.

Waverley will give people the opportunity to step aboard the famous steamship from Friday 31st May to Sunday 23rd June. The steamer will offer a wide variety of cruises from Clevedon, Portishead, Weston, Minehead and Ilfracombe.

The first sailing on the Channel this year will see Waverley steam up the river Torridge as she makes a grand return to Bideford, her first visit to the town since the 1980s.

During the programme of cruises Waverley will offer the traditional pleasure trips from Portishead, Clevedon, Weston and Minehead to visit Ilfracombe giving passengers several hours ashore to explore. A special sailing on Sunday 9th June will allow passengers from Clevedon to visit Lundy Island. 

This year Waverley has partnered with three heritage railways to offer the "Ultimate Steam Day Out" where passengers can combine a trip on a paddle steamer with the ride behind a steam locomotive – passengers can choose from trips on the Brecon Mountain Railway, Lynton & Barnstaple Railway and the West Somerset Railway. Waverley is also teaming up with the SS Great Britain Trust for an evening fundraising cruise from Clevedon on Tuesday 11th June and in support of Clevedon Pier there will be a special evening cruise round the Holms on Saturday 15th June.

Paul Brown, harbour master of the Port of Bideford, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Paddle Steamer Waverley back to Bideford for two port visits in May and June this year.  Her visits will create an enormous amount of interest and we look forward to showing the beautiful river Torridge as well as our wonderful town to the passengers.”   

This year marks the 45th anniversary since Waverley first visited the Bristol Channel and South Wales back in 1979, sailing in the wake of the famous White Funnel Fleet of pleasure steamers which operated until the 60s. Nowadays only Waverley offers pleasure steamer trips to the popular North Devon resort of Ilfracombe, around the Holm Islands and along the Welsh Heritage Coast.

Councillor Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member for culture and leisure, said: “I’m thrilled to hear that the Waverley will be returning to North Somerset this summer, sailing from Clevedon, Portishead and Weston-super-Mare.

"People loved cruising on the paddle steamer last year, and I’m sure this year’s outings will prove similarly popular. I hope our local community and visitors from further afield alike will climb aboard and enjoy our beautiful landscapes from a fresh perspective. All we need now is for the Balmoral steamer to get back in service. Please do donate if you can, to help keep these wonderful boats afloat.”

Waverley’s general manager, Paul Semple said “I am delighted to announce that Waverley will be returning to the Bristol Channel for a longer period this summer given the level of demand we saw last year with a more extensive selection of cruises on offer. Waverley offers a truly unique experience and I know many will be excited to review our 2024 sailing programme which has just been published.”

To launch her sailings on the Bristol Channel there are several special offers to take advantage of with Kids For £1 and the popular “Seniors Bring a Friend FREE” offer on selected cruises, and NHS workers can claim a 15% discount when booking in advance.

Tickets for all sailings can be booked online or call 0141 243 2224.