Hebridean Journeys Part 7

For our latest Scottish islands holiday in June 2017 we planned to use the Calmac ferry from Ardrossan to Campbeltown, spend a day in southern Kintyre and the  travel to Kennacraig and on to Islay and Jura.

Unfortunately the ship used on this route,  the Isle of Arran had suffered s serious engine fault and was out of action for about two weeks. Some hasty replanning saw us changing our plans for the first part of our holiday.

The map below shows the route we took - the red dots are by ferry, the blue dots are by train or bus.

Sunday 18th June

We set off from Glasgow Central by train to Largs where we crossed over to Great Cumbrae by ferry and then on to Millport by bus.

The paddle steamer 'Waverley' was just pulling away from the pier as we boarded the Calmac ferry 'Loch Riddon' - seeing this was an excellent start to our journey!

Looking across the Firth of Clyde to Great Cumbrae with the other ferry on this route about to pass us.

A glance back at Largs.

The ferry was full of cyclist going to an event on the island. Our bus awaits us. There is a 15 minute interval service by ferry and bus between Largs and Millport seven days a week!.

The 'Loch Riddon' backs away from the slipway as it returns to Largs.

This photo and the ones below give an impression of Millport the main town on Great Cumbrae.

Looking out over the bay with the hills of mainland Ayrshire in the background.

Waiting for our ferry back to Largs.

On our return to Largs we waited for the larger ferry on this route, the 'Loch Shira', which has much better passenger accommodation than the other ferry.

Looking up the Firth of Clyde towards the Isle of Bute.

We travelled on to Ardrossan harbour by train and boarded the 'Caledonian Isles' for the hour long crossing to Arran.

The crossing was completely calm but, as can be seen, the hills of Arran were shrouded in thick clouds.

A chemical tanker the ' Bro Distributor' was moored in the bay at Brodick waiting to go up to the Finnart oil terminal on Loch Long having come from Milford Haven.

Tied up at the timber quay at Brodick was the 'Red Princess' which takes timber to Troon for a paper mill at Irvine.

The new ferry terminal at Brodick is nearly complete and the ferries were doing berthing trials over the following weeks.

The old pier and terminal at Brodick with an enormous queue of passengers returning to the mainland on this Sunday afternoon.

Brodick from the ferry.

The Caledonian Isles berthed at Brodick.

Monday 19th June

 Monday was a beautiful sunny day and the clouds had cleared to reveal Goat Fell, the highest hill on Arran.

We travelled by bus across Arran to Lochranza, where an additional ferry was on standby duties because of the problems with the 'Isle of Arran'


The ferry across to Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula was the new battery powered hybrid 'Catriona'.

The crossing appears to have been entirely on batteries as the ship was totally silent with no vibration. This is looking back to Arran.

Click on the photo to see a larger panorama of the western coast of Arran. Then click on the new image to enlarge it full size.


The ferry made a rather worryingly tight 7 minute connection with the bus to Tarbet at Claonaig.

At Tarbert it was low tide.

To fill in time we decided on another ferry crossing across Loch Fyne to Portavadie on the small 'Isle of Cumbrae' ferry.

Looking back to Tarbert harbour.

The northern end of Arran from the ferry to Portavadie

The ferry is up on the slipway at Portavadie.

A reminder of past ferry facilities. This is the old pier at Tarbert which is used occasionally by the 'Waverley'

Tarbert castle

Tuesday 20th June

High tide in Tarbert harbour.

Swans and their four cygnets.

Tarbert across the harbour.

We then travelled by service bus to Kennacraig to board the new ferry 'Finlaggan' and in this view the mezzanine car deck can be seen in the loading position. It is the lifted up by hydraulic ramps to provide additional spaces for cars underneath it.

The 'Finlaggan' berthed at Kennacraig.

Heading out of West Loch Tarbert

Away to the south is the end of the isle of Gigha and in the distance the hills in Northern Ireland near Ballycastle.

The three Paps of Jura with the buildings at Craighouse just visible on the left hand side of the shoreline.

The ship is heading up the Sound of Islay...

Looking back to the eastern tip of Islay....

...and Jura over to the left.

The 'Eilean Dhiura' ferry runs between Port Askaig and Feolin. It is seen here photographed from the 'Finlaggan' as we dock at Port Askaig. There was to be more drama here as the ferry had broken down and we had to wait for an hour until it had been repaired.

Port Askaig ferry terminal.

The 'Finlaggan' pulls away on its way back to Kennacraig.

Fortunately, the ferry was repaired and here we are arriving at Feolin with the mini bus connection to Craighouse waiting for us.

A photo taken from the bus looking across the Sound of Islay.

Craighouse with the Jura Hotel and distillery.

Looking north from Craighouse with the pier used by the fast ferry from the mainland.

We walked down to the old pier to get this view of the Paps of Jura.

Probably the most noticeable building in Craighouse from a distance is the red-roofed community shop.

Two panoramas of the Bay of the Small Isles..

...with the original pier used by steamers in pre roll on-roll off ferry days.

A surprise was the arrival of a cargo boat loaded with aggregate for use in the building of a new golf resort near the ferry terminal at Feolin.

Sunset shows the hills of the Western Highlands the highest being Ben Cruachan.

Wednesday 21st June

The sunny weather had disappeared on Wednesday and was replaced with typical Scottish drizzle. The cargo ship is till unloading its cargo.

The village of Craighouse stretches out along the only road on the island.

Something to keep the young people occupied?

The Church of Scotland has a photo museum of the island's history at the back ...

...and a plain interior with a laird's balcony on the left.

We walked about three miles up the coast...

...noticing half a dozen seals...

....numerous birds...

...and some young deer.

The milepost refers to the old ferry pier at Craighouse.

In the afternoon we travelled on the school/ public mini bus all the way up Jura to the hamlet at Inverlussa. The bus driver gave us a running commentary!

Typical Jura moorland

This is the A838 single track road with grass growing in the middle

View forwards

Dropping down to the coast at Lagg

Arriving at the estate buildings at Ardlussa.

The bus terminus is at Inverlussa..

...with our bus route 456 displayed in the cab.

On the way back we saw more stags by the road side.

Thursday 22nd

In the morning before our departure from Craighouse the 'Vic 32' came into the harbour. It is a "cruise" boat based at the Crinnan Canal and visits various ports in the west of Scotland.

We had time for a final walk around the bay before taking the bus back to Feolin.

The view from the bus heading south....

....with Islay across the sound.

After a bus journey through Bowmore and on to Port Ellen we arrived at the ferry terminal as the 'Hebridean Isles' arrived from Kennacraig.

It's a much more functional ferry than the 'Finlaggan' and is both a side and end loading ferry.

The other good thing about this ship is that there is a passenger promenade deck around the front of the ship which allows this view leaving Port Ellen.

Looking back at Port Ellen village.

The next three photos are a panorama of the Irish coast stretching from Larne on the left..

...past Portrush, Ballycastle with Rathlin Island on the right....

and on towards the area around Londonderry. The isolated part of land on the far right is actually in Country Donegal in the Irish Republic.

Over to the south east are the hills in the Mull of Kintyre.

The 'Hebridean Isles ' pulls away from the linkspan at Kennacraig...

....as it heads back to Islay.

The final part of journey was back to Glasgow on a four hour coach journey. This is Inveraray where there was a short break.

Loch Fyne at Inveraray

An old 'puffer' tied up against the pier.

Inveraray's main street.

Our journey ended back in Glasgow.