Mallaig - Lochbaghasdail - Bágh
Mallaig - Lochbaghasdail - Bágh
Mallaig - Lochboisdale - Castlebay
Mainland - South Uist - Barra
Crossing Time: 3 Hours 30min - 6 Hours
Lord of the Isles
1967 - 1973:
1973 - 1974:
1974 - 1987:
1988 - 1990:
1991 - 1993: Non-Operational
1994 - 1998:
1998 - 2001:
Lord of the Isles
2013 - Present:
Lord of the Isles
JUMP ON A VIRTUAL
Mallaig: Linkspan fitted in 1994 at
main ferry berth. Train station located close by. Vehicle marshalling area
and office facilities.
Castlebay: Vehicle waiting area located adjacent to terminal
office. Linkspan installed in 1989 so that ferry lies along the face of
the pier as it always did. Terminal office houses a passenger waiting
area, ticket office etc.
Single linkspan and ferry berth, vehicle marshalling area and terminal
office with passenger waiting facilities.
In 1967 it was now possible for one of the new trio of Hebridean car
ferries to use Lochboisdale pier as it had been extended for there
specific use. It was the new Clansman's job on a Friday evening to sail from Mallaig to the
Outer Isles at 1845 retuning in the early hours of the next day. She was
dispatched in 1971 to sail on three evenings per week, to Castlebay
(Barra), as well as Lochboisdale. The sailings arrived in the Outer Isles
ports at quite uncivilised times so in the following season her departure
time from Mallaig was brought forward by two hours allowing better timings
to come into effect. A side effect to that however was that the number of
her Armadale (Skye) crossings were cut from Mallaig.
Clansman at Lochboisdale 1968
happening in Oban in 1974 that were to jeopardise the route's continuation.
introduced a new Outer Isles service from Oban to Lochboisdale, making use
of the linkspans that had been installed there. This made the long
crossing from Mallaig obsolete and so in that year the pilgrimage of the
Columba (the new Skye ferry) in the evenings was withdrawn.
Pioneer departs Mallaig
It was now the
Pioneer's turn to chip in on the route as she inevitably does,
opening it again in 1988. Most of CalMac's network was now open on Sundays
and the Castlebay route was no exception. Serving peak times on the Sunday
she loaded at both Castlebay and Mallaig via her newly acquired car hoist
mainly for use at the latter. In the same year due to a displacement at
Oban, the Iona
came north to relieve her close fleet mate from her Skye and Outer Isles operations. This resulted in the Pioneer
becoming spare vessel but also increasing the routes capacity by 50%.
The routes mixed start - stop history didn't stop there. After the 1990
season it was halted due to the fact that Mallaig hadn't had a linkspan
installed yet and all other ports on the route had. This resulted in
using her hoist at Mallaig and a direct service from Oban (where a
linkspan was fitted) being more economical. In 1994 however calls from
Mallaig to the Outer Isles were reintroduced on two days per week
(Tuesdays and Sundays) using the Skye stationed Iona
again. In 1998 her passenger certificate was not renewed due to huge costs
needed to bring her up to new safety regulations. She was withdrawn from
the fleet and her place taken by the larger and better equipped Lord of
the Isles (displaced by the new Clansman at Oban).
Lord of the Isles leaving Castlebay
Due to her not being available until the 5th of July that year the ever
was sent back to cover the run which also included the
crossings, unfortunately due to a major breakdown she was sent back to
Oban to join the Iona (on charter and by then renamed Pentalina~B)
on the Craignure crossing. Mallaig was left with a Island Class vessel and
the Loch Dunvegan to cover. This meant that the Castlebay crossing
had to be abandoned due to obvious reasons with the class of ship left at
the port. When
the Lord of the Isles eventually arrived on Station it was too late
for the crossing. The better services from Oban to the Outer Isles put the
final axe to the crossing and after the 2001 season it was withdrawn after
several attempts to increase passenger numbers.
As of mid 2011 there is again continued pressure on the Government to
reinstate CalMac's Mallaig to Lochboisdale route. There is currently a
discussion topic on our forum with the latest updates on the issue, you
can view the thread below via the link.
- Lochboisdale Ferry Route
membership is required to view and join the forum.
Update: September 2013
It was announced on 26th September 2013 by Transport Minister Keith Brown
that "a three year winter pilot ferry service between Mallaig and Lochboisdale
will start from this winter" (2013). LORD OF THE ISLES is once again expected to provide the service and is addition to
the planned service enhancements on the Oban to South Uist and Oban-Barra routes
as part of the Scottish Government’s Ferries Plan.
Mr Brown said:
The Scottish Government’s
Ferries Plan outlines our ambitions for ferry services across Scotland
over the next decade with enhancements on the Oban-South Uist and Oban-Barra
routes coming on stream this winter.
“In addition to those enhancements, I am acutely aware of the strength
of feeling from local communities that we look closely at providing a
service on the Mallaig to Lochboisdale route. We have listened to those
views and we are acting.
“I am pleased to announce that following detailed analysis of the
availability of vessels across all our Clyde and Hebrides routes, over
the next three winter periods we will test the feasibility of the
service on a trial basis. The MV Lord of the Isles has been identified
as the preferred vessel and the service, which will be fully evaluated
and reviewed at the end of the three year trial run, will operate two
days a week – one day midweek and one day at the weekend.
“We have been working hard to enhance ferry provision on all ferry
services to Barra and South Uist for the coming winter in line with our
ferry plan commitments and to finalise details with the operator. I am
sure today’s news will be warmly welcomed by local communities and I
would encourage use of the additional sailings which will be made
Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, added:
We are pleased to have been
able to assist Transport Scotland in making this trial service possible.
We look forward to welcoming ferry travellers when the service starts in
The pilot will run this winter starting in mid-November through to early
April with a short three week break in February when MV Lord of the
Isles is unavailable due to refit cover elsewhere in the network.
Barra will continue to have sailings to and from Oban, both direct and
via Lochboisdale. Lochboisdale will continue to have sailings to and
from Oban, both direct and via Castlebay.
The route will be served by MV Lord of the Isles which is the only large
ship in the fleet which can reliably berth in Mallaig.
Caledonian MacBrayne representatives are planning local engagement early
next week to discuss with local community representative the detail of
Above text from
Island News and Advertiser (external link).