The River Tay is home to Britain’s largest continuous reedbed. Habitat for an array of wildlife, including marsh harriers, water rails and bearded tits, it is also home to abandoned vintage cars. Dumped in the 1960s and 70s, these rusting wrecks have survived remarkably intact, thanks to the shelter of the reeds.
The wrecks are clustered along a stretch of the riverbank between Paddockmuir Wood, in the Carse of Gowrie, and Port Allen and lie just below a public footpath that links Errol and Cottown via Port Allen. Setting out from the hamlet of Cottown, we followed a farm track down past a vast solar energy farm to Paddockmuir Wood. Here we turned east, walking through the wood before continuing along the riverbank path to a spot where tractor tyres had been dumped. On the slope below, we found the remains of a burgundy Austin/Morris 1100 or 1300 lying amid other discarded farm rubbish.
A little further on, a second Austin/Morris 1100 or 1300, this time in white, emerged from the undergrowth. Both cars, although very rusty and in a poor state of repair, were still recogniseable. Carrying both Austin and Morris badges, the 1100 and 1300 were built by the British Motor Corporation (later British Leyland) between 1962 and 1974 and were best-sellers in their day.
Clambering back up to the path, we wandered east, soon spotting a third metal carcass down to the right. Descending the grassy bank, the remains of a chrome number on the battered, moss-encrusted bonnet led us to believe this was a Peugeot 304, a small family car built between 1969 and 1980.
Final find of the day was a pair of crumpled old Morris Minors, a car built between 1948 and 1972. Like their neighbours, their days on the road at an end, they were driven down here and unceremoniously dumped down the banking, spending the last 40 or 50 years slowly rotting away in a leafy trench wedged between the riverbank and reedbeds.