Ferries

Cruise the Highlands and Islands

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The Wilderness Tour of the Western Isles involves threading together a series of ferries. No one's seriously suggested this is luxury 'cruising', but they do enjoy an excellent safety record

Image: David Dixon CC by SA 2.0

Ardrossan to Brodick (Isle of Arran)

This is a popular route with about 10 sailings per-day in the summer season. They begin early at about 07.00 with the last ferry leaving at about 19.30. It is served by a 94 metre long ship with capacity for 1000 passengers and 110 cars. The crossing takes 55 minutes over the Firth of Clyde between the Ayrshire port of Ardrossan and the disembarkation at Brodick on the Isle of Arran. It’s fairly well sheltered and landfall is always in sight

Lochranza to Claonaig

This ferry doesn’t require pre-booking. It’s a turn up 10 minutes before sailing and go service. It runs between Lochranza on the north west tip of Arran to Claonaig at the top of the Kintyre Peninsula. It’s a very well sheltered stretch of water and only takes 30 mins to complete, and there are normally about 10 sailings a day beginning at 08.15 and a final sailing at 19.00. The ferry itself is a borderline landing craft at 43 metres long with capacity for 23 cars and 150 passengers. It’s able to get you in close and ‘drop and go’ for convenience

Image: sebastian.b. CC by SA 2.0

Isle of Arran

Image by Anne BurgessCC by SA 2.0

Image: Mn28 at English Wikipedia CC by SA 4.0

Kennacraig to Port Ellen or Port Askaig (Islay)

The crossing from Kennacraig to Islay takes 2 hrs 20 mins. The first 20 mins you sail in the sheltered waters of Loch Tarbert before hitting the open sea. Islay is subject to tidal influences which means we have to put-in at one of two ports dependent on the time of day. The most convenient for the golf is Port Ellen which is only 10 mins from Machrie. The more spectacular is Port Askaig where the last 20 mins of the journey are also sheltered in the Sound of Jura, a narrow channel between Islay and Jura with its famous ‘paps’ dominating the skyline. There are normally five sailings a day. The boat is 90 metres long with capacity for 500 passengers and 85 cars

Mallaig to Lochboisdale (South Uist)

Mallaig to Lochboisdale in the longest crossing we face. The journey to the island of South Uist takes 3 hrs and 30 mins and involves the most open water of any crossing too. We face the additional logistical challenge of there are only being the single sailing each day. This is a ferry we ‘must make’. If we miss it, then urm … we’ve got a problem. The timetable usually involves a later afternoon departure that arrives in Lochboisdale just before 21.00. Luckily Askernish is nearby, so it sets us up for golf the next morning. The 85 metre long ship is one of the bigger ones in the fleet and has capacity for over 500 passengers and 56 cars

Image: Mn28 at English Wikipedia CC by SA 4.0

Sound of Jura

Image by Adam Ward  CC by SA 2.0

Image: Mn28 at English Wikipedia CC by SA 4.0

Berneray (North Uist) to Leverburgh (Harris)

South Uist and North Uist are linked together by a series of causeways which means driving to its northern tip is fairly spectacular and liberating it itself. In order to get to Harris and the Isle of Lewis however we need to cross the ‘Sound of Harris’ to play The Isle of Harris golf course. This is a shallow water crossing threading its way between skerries and requires a smaller capacity lower draught vessel. The ferry takes an hour to complete this journey and has capacity 195 passengers and 31 cars. There are five crossings day. Because we’re dealing with a nine hole course though, the timings are such that we can come back to North Uist and Lochmaddy in a single trip

Lochmaddy to Uig (Skye)

The crossing between Lochmaddy (North Uist) and Uig (Isle of Skye) takes 1 hr 45 mins and mostly involves open water. There are normally two sailings a day and we aim to get the second one which gets us onto Skye for the early evening. The ship is a 100 metres long and has capacity for over 600 passengers and 90 cars

Image: Mn28 at English Wikipedia CC by SA 4.0

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