Tobermory - Kilchoan
Tobermory - Kilchoan
Mainland - Mull
1986 - 1997:
1999 - Present:
Linnhe / Raasay
Various members of
the Island Class
and Loch Class
ferries on relief duties.
JUMP ON A VIRTUAL
Tobermory: Quite literally a widened
slipway at the very end of the town. The slipway is adjacent to the main
pier and lifeboat berth. Nearby there is a cafe on the upper floor of the
terminal building, above the ticket and information office.
Slipway and pier jutting out into the northern end of the Sound of Mull.
There is a small vehicle marshalling and turning area as well as a
passenger shelter and public toilets situated close by.
This crossing was, until the end of 1985 at least, in the care of one of the ex
Iona Red Boats, the Applecross and had been previously referred to as the
Tobermory - Mingary service.
At the end of the 1985 season however, the Applecross was withdrawn and a replacement
vessel was urgently required. This duty fell to one of the spare members of the
'Island Class' ferries; the Coll being the chosen one. With the lack of
slipway facilities at either Tobermory or Kilchoan, Coll was restricted
to carrying passengers only. For this purpose her seating was increased
by using portable semi-permanent seats attached to the car deck and the
provision of a covered area forward on the car deck, immediately behind
the bow ramp.
Over the following 5 years the Coll had a relatively
easy life, shuttling several time a day back and forth between Mull and
Ardnamurchan. It was perhaps inevitable that a route with a car ferry
operating it was to become a vehicle service.
Coll arriving at Tobermory slipway
2nd vessel Bruernish at Tobermory pier
It was not until 1991 that slipways were constructed at the Coll's ports and the crossing became a car ferry service during the summer
months. Tobermory was equipped with a slipway beyond the end of the main
pier, while that at Kilchoan was a simple and narrow stretch of concrete
set just behind the stone pier, on the western side of Kilchoan Bay,
opposite the ruins of the castle.
The route continued to grow gradually and the number of sailings during
the summer was gradually increased. In the summer of 1996 the Coll was
replaced at Tobermory by her Oban-based sister Eigg. That summer proved
to be a busy one and on many occasions in the height of the season,
Bruernish was also required to carry out additional sailings.
Coll sitting at Kilchoan
Loch Linnhe leaving Kilchoan
As demand grew on numerous routes simultaneously across
the CalMac network, a major cascade of ferries took place between 1997
and 1999, which saw Loch Class ferries switching route like there was no
tomorrow. The Kilchoan route was one of those which benefited from this
redployment. Clyde movements freed up the 1986-built Loch Linnhe from
the Tarbert - Portavadie run and she was switched to the Western Isles
in time for the summer of 1999. Eigg was despatched back down to Oban
and the Loch Linnhe took over the seasonal service, allowing
drive-through operations for the first time.
It was to be a few years yet before year-round service
commenced out of Tobermory, however when it did come round, yet another
vessel was required for this duty. Loch Linnhe was required elsewhere in
the network during the winter as she was one of the main relief ships on
the shorter routes. Demand was low enough or an Island Class ferry to
return to the fray once more. The chosen one this time was Raasay and
she became the regular winter vessel, handing back to the larger ferry
just in time for the summer timetable to commence.
Loch Linnhe entering Tobermory Bay
2006 saw a change in the winter deployment and Loch
Linnhe was present for the majority of the winter and this appears to
have set the precedent for future winters, with Raasay and occasionally
Isle of Cumbrae standing in when required.
Images from Ships of CalMac Collection