|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Port Ellen / Port Askaig (Islay)|
West Loch Tarbert has been the start point for voyages to Islay and Jura for hundreds of years, with the short land crossing from Tarbert allowing a connection to Glasgow across the Firth of Clyde. The original pier (or one of them) is now looking rather run down and accessed by the B8026. MacBraynes started a service to Islay and Jura in 1826 The Kennacraig facility was opened by Western Ferries in April 1968, before the Caledonian Steam Packet, later Caledonian MacBrayne, ousted them from the route, and so taking over at Kennacraig in June 1978.
Two services operate out of Kennacraig, sailing to Port Ellen at Islay's southern end, or Port Askaig on the Sound of Islay. This latter service links directly to the Jura Ferry, although there is no direct vehicular link from Jura to the Mainland at present, although there is a passenger service to Tayvallich. Both sailings take a little over two hours, and both join the A846 (at opposite ends) on Islay. On certain days in the summer, a rather complex addition to the timetable sees a ferry travelling from Kennacraig to Port Askaig, and then on to Colonsay and Oban, before making the return trip. Vessels are the near sisters Hebridean Isles and Isle of Arran which hold around 60 cars each.
A new ferry named Finlaggan, has been built in Poland and started on the route in 2011. This meant that the pier at Kennacraig had to be partially reconstructed to take the new, larger ship, with the old linkspan adapted to take either vessel, and a new one added to the north.
Kennacraig, the mainland port for the Islay Ferries, is a very small settlement on the shore of West Loch Tarbert. However, the Ferry Pier is actually on an island in the loch, connected to the mainland, and the A83 by a S1 causeway across the beach. The island is thickly wooded, although large sections have been cleared to make room for car parking (for daytrippers I assume). Some of these areas are tarred, others mud. The main queueing area is at the southern end of the island.
Kennacraig is also the original port for the car ferry service to Gigha, albeit only briefly while the Tayinloan pier was rebuilt. However, the service has since been diverted to Kennacraig at least once to allow works at Tayinloan.
2012 Draft Ferries Plan
In late 2011 the Scottish Government released the draft ferries plan for the coming 10 years. With the recent introduction of the new ferry, Finlaggan, the service to Islay is already considered to be meeting the needs of the island. However, one small change was recommended. In order to improve the service to the Isle of Jura, it is proposed that when the Port Ellen pier works are completed, the Islay service remains weighted in favour of Port Askaig. Port Ellen is seen as important for the import of grain to the distilleries, but in order to improve the service to Jura, Port Askaig is seen as being the primary port on Islay.
|Finlaggan||9482902||Caledonian MacBrayne||2011-date||88 cars|
|Isle of Arran||8219554||Caledonian MacBrayne||1993-2001
|Hebridean Isles||8404812||Caledonian MacBrayne||2001-date||62 cars|
|Arran||5025249||Caledonian MacBrayne||1970-74||Hoist Loader|
|Sound of Jura||6920068||Western Ferries||1969-78|
|Sound of Islay||6810926||Western Ferries||1968-78|
|Lochiel||David MacBrayne||1940-70||Hoist Loader - identification number 165966|
|Pioneer||Caledonian MacBrayne||1905-40||Paddle Steamer|