|Location Map ( geo)|
|Clansman at Oban, departing on her 1540 sailing to Castlebay,|
|Distance:||140.9 km (87.6 miles)|
|Argyll • Inverness-shire|
|£76.85 (Car+driver, 2013)|
Historically, Barra was served by the steamer services sailing out of Glasgow, West Loch Tarbert (via the Crinan Canal) and Oban. In the twentieth century, services also originated from Mallaig, and indeed when Car Ferries first started crossing The Minch, Barra, along with South Uist, was served from Mallaig as well as Oban.
Until Summer 2016 the Barra service was part of a complex set of crossings out of Oban, which also call at Lochboisdale, South Uist, Coll and Tiree. The standard crossing from Oban takes just under five hours, adding an hour and a half if it visits any of the other ports en-route. However, for Summer 2016 the Lochboisdale service returned to Mallaig, allowing Barra a 7 day service with the ferry based in Castlebay. An additional sailing on Wednesday, from Oban via Coll & Tiree replicates that formerly offered on Thursdays.
The regular ferries on this route were the 54 car MV Lord of the Isles, the giant 90 car MV Clansman or occasionally the 70 car MV Isle of Mull. However, from March 2016, the Isle of Lewis was redeployed to the route, with MV Clansman providing the additional Wednesday sailing.
Due to a major crankshaft failure on one of the ferries in Summer 2010, there were a few scheduled services to Barra from Mallaig. These were timetabled to coincide with Barra's annual festival and used the MV Loch Nevis. As this has a limited capacity of 16 cars, it is presumed that the service was designed to transport more people than vehicles! There are no plans to make this a permanent service.
2012 Draft Ferries Plan
In late 2011 the Scottish Government released the draft ferries plan for the coming 10 years. As a general rule, the draft plan proposes to maintain the status quo across the Western Isles. However, the service to Barra is seen as being in need of improvement in the winter. This would see the number of weekly sailings rise from 3 to 5, primarily to meet the needs of freight, however there are currently insufficient vessels for such a service. This improvement is therefore likely to be implemented as part of the longer term plans to improve other services out of Oban, with the sharing of ferries between routes becoming more common.
|Isle of Lewis||9085974||Calmac||2016 -||114 cars|
|Lord of the Isles||8710869||Calmac||1989-1998 (Oban)