Kyle of Lochalsh - Toscaig & Kylerhea
Kyle of Lochalsh - Toscaig & Kylerhea
Crossing Time: Unknown
1955 - 1964:
1964 - 1968:
1968 - 1969:
Lochailort / Vital Spark (charter) /
/ Vital Spark (charter)
1971 - 1972: Vital Spark (charter)
1972 - 1976:
(Service Not Operated by MacBraynes)
1976 - 1977:
1977 - 1978:
*No Profile Available for Vital Spark
Kyle of Lochalsh:
Basic wooden pier facilities next to the town centre.
basic wooden pier and landing stage set in the small village.
Kylerhea: Wooden pier set near to the village.
In May 1955 David MacBrayne Ltd acquired the motor fishing vessel, IRENE
JULIA, to provide a new service between Kyle of Lochalsh and the
Applecross peninsula, thus relieving the outer isles mailboat Loch Seaforth from the necessity of a
regular Applecross call on her inward journey from Kyle. At that time the
only road to Applecross and district was the very high and winding Bealach
na Ba from Kishorn, no less challenging a drive then than now, and very
vulnerable to winter snow.
Loch Toscaig in May 1956, she took up the Applecross service that
month – sailing in fact to the picturesque little bay of Toscaig village –
and in summertime she also gave morning cruises from Kyle of Lochalsh to
Loch Duich, Loch Carron, Loch Kishorn, Loch Toscaig, Broadford bay and the
Narrows of Raasay.
Anxious to curb the heavy losses on the lifeline service MacBraynes at the
end of 1963 also bought the wooden motor-launch HIGHLANDER from its
Glenelg owner. The craft had previously belonged to Bruce Watt of Mallaig
and it was hoped she would be a much more cost-effective vessel on the
Applecross service than Loch Toscaig.
Loch Toscaig at Toscaig between 1960 -
Suitably renamed and refitted,
Applecross emerged in January 1964, in the
MacBrayne small craft livery – red, with a pale blue boot-top. She made
her first Toscaig run on 20th January and, in addition to her mail and
supplies service, offered morning cruises from Kyle of Lochalsh three
forenoons a week during summer. She also began a new mail-run, three days
per week, to Kylerhea, thus relieving Loch Seaforth of her call at Glenelg.
1964 saw the transfer of
Loch Toscaig to the Lismore run as she made a
straight swap with Lochnell. The 'new' older vessel assumed the Kyle of
Lochalsh - Applecross service as well as a regular morning cruise, and also
the thrice-weekly mail run to Kylerhea in place of Applecross. In
Lochnel was transferred again, to the
Tobermory - Mingary roster.
It was then the turn of the
Lochailort, which was for a time laid up in
1968, to take up the Toscaig service in succession to Lochnell.
As a temporary measure, the service was maintained by the locally owned
VITAL SPARK until
Lochailort was refitted at Kyle and able to take over the Toscaig
service at the end of June. In 1969 VITAL SPARK was again chartered from
her owners, McLean & McRae, Kyle of Lochalsh, to operate the service from
early May, when it was discovered that Lochailort was unfit for further service. She had only lasted for one
year, and her hull was condemned and was unceremoniously burned at Kyle of
Lochalsh on the last day of May 1969.
During the early summer of 1969,
Loch Toscaig made a rare appearance on the service while VITAL SPARK
was given a refit, during which she received the cabin from
Lochailort. Newly refurbished, VITAL SPARK then continued to give the
Toscaig service, manned by Lochailort's crew. A change to the service occurred in July, when the
overnight base was transferred from Toscaig to Kyle, and VITAL SPARK was
then operated with her own crew. Lochnell
again appeared in 1970 to relieve VITAL SPARK on the Kyle-Toscaig and
Kylerhea services in the spring, while the latter was overhauled at Kyle.
That summer, the cruises given by VITAL SPARK were advertised by MacLean
and MacRae, rather than by MacBrayne's as previously.
The Kylerhea section of the service, run three times a week, was
discontinued at the end of October 1971. The Toscaig service remained,
however, in the hands of VITAL SPARK, which was still running on charter
to David MacBrayne. After much pressure had been put on the Scottish
Office by Ross and Cromarty County Council, they reluctantly agreed to pay
75% of the loss sustained in the service's operation.
On 1 February 1972, the responsibility of running the Toscaig service
passed from David MacBrayne Ltd, to McLean and McRae, with direct subsidy
from Ross & Cromarty. After sixteen years, when Loch Seaforth had stopped calling at Applecross, another MacBrayne
ferry service had ceased to exist.
From December 1976, Howard Doris Ltd chartered a small ferry from
Caledonian MacBrayne to ferry personnel between Kishorn and oil rigs under
construction in Loch Carron. At various times throughout the period,
either Bruernish or
Coll was to be found on this contract, which included
operating the service from Kyle of Lochalsh to Toscaig as part of their
duties. No vehicles were carried, indeed Coll sported a Portakabin on her
car deck from late December 1976 until October 1977 as additional covered
accommodation for passengers, when it was
transferred to Bruernish for the remainder of the charter period, which
ceased in May 1978.
Text with thanks to John Newth
© Picture: Postcard (Neil King Collection)
Coll, with Portakabin, at Loch Toscaig 1977
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