Main Crossings Kyles Scalpay - Scalpay
Kyles Scalpay - Scalpay
Harris - Scalpay
Crossing Time:
5 Minutes
Last Ship:


1965 - 1970: Scalpay (I)
1971 - 1976: Scalpay (II)
1977 - 1989: Kilbrannan
1990: Kilbrannan / Canna
1991 - 1996:
1997: Canna / Rhum
Additional Ships:
Morvern and other members of the 'Island Class' (Overhaul relief duties).
To cover for annual overhaul:
1966 - 1967: Various Fishing vessels.
1968 - 1969: APPIN CHIEF (On charter).
 Terminal Facilities:
Scalpay: Slipway and overnight berth for the resident ferry. Minimal facilities due to very short nature of the crossing.

Kyles Scalpay:
Slipway and lightly built pier to aid berthing. Minimal facilities due to very short nature of the crossing.
 Route History:
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.

The little Scalpay alongside Scalpay slipway

Morvern sitting at Kyles Scalpay in early 1977

This 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.

The 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 Canna in 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.

Fleet Feature: Kyles Ferries

Picture: Bill Main
CANNA at Scalpay slipway

RHUM - last ferry, first bridge crossing

Kyles Scalpay slipway
some years after the bridge opened

HEBRIDES passes the Scalpay Bridge

Scalpay slipway as seen today

All material on this site Ships of CalMac 2001 - 2017, unless otherwise stated.
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