Scalpay: Slipway and overnight berth
for the resident ferry. Minimal facilities due to very short nature of the
Slipway and lightly built pier to aid berthing. Minimal facilities due to
very short nature of the crossing.
The tiny island of Scalpay was originally served by the Outer Isles mail
steamer, however with the introduction of a car ferry service on what
became known as the Uig Triangle, with the Hebrides, this service
ceased and the residents of Scalpay were catered for by their own car
ferry, albeit much smaller than the Uig ferry. The Scalpay (I) was
built in 1957 for another route but was acquired and pressed into service
on the few minute crossing from Harris. The ferry was of a turntable
design as opposed to a fixed car deck.
little Scalpay alongside Scalpay slipway
Morvern sitting at Kyles Scalpay in early 1977
tiny turntable ship was replaced in 1971 by the former Kyle of Lochalsh
ferry Lochalsh. This ferry had been made redundant earlier that
year by the arrival of the first double-ended ferry to operate in the
Western Isles, the Kyleakin of 1970. Upon the former's withdrawal
from the Skye crossing she was renamed Scalpay (II) and it became
obvious as to where she would operate. The larger turntable ferry
displaced her smaller predecessor on the Scalpay crossing in 1971 and
continued to look after the run for six years. The slipways at both
terminals were very narrow compared to many other terminals and the ferry
had to have angled ends cut into her ramps in order to make loading all
the more easier.
turntable phenomenon continued until 1977 when, as with elsewhere in the
CalMac network, end loading became the order of the day and the Morvern
took over the crossing.
The little Kilbrannan replaced the second Scalpay and became
the dedicated ferry for the island in 1977 - a position she was to hold
until the beginning of the 1990s. Larger tonnage was provided in the form of
the redundant former Fishnish ferry Cannain 1990 when she took over
from her smaller sister.
The timetable on the Scalpay crossing was not exactly demanding it has to
be said. With a sailing time of only a few minutes, extra sailings could
easily be slotted in between the scheduled departure times. As the 1990s
went on it was perhaps inevitable that this narrow expanse of water would be
bridged once and for all. The end for the route became a reality in December
1997 when the Rhum (having replaced Canna earlier that year)
performed the last crossing from Kyles Scalpay to Scalpay itself as the
bridge was formally opened a few hundred yards away. And so it was that yet
another long running ferry service was consigned to the history books.