|Location Map ( geo)|
|MV Lord of the Isles steaming down the Sound of Mull returning from Lochboisdale|
|To:||Lochboisdale (South Uist)|
|Argyll • Inverness-shire|
|£76.85 (Car+driver, 2013)|
In the past, South Uist was served by Steamers from Glasgow, Oban and other west coast ports, however Lochboisdale was not the original main port on South Uist. Instead, steamers and later Car Ferries used to dock in Loch Eynort. In the long term, however, Lochboisdale proved the deeper and more accessible port, so the ferries from Mallaig and Oban were moved south.
Previously part of a complex set of connections out of Oban which also visited Barra, Coll and Tiree. The direct sailing from Oban took nearly five and a half hours, and you can add an hour and a half if it visited Castlebay on Barra. The ferry never visited Lochboisdale more than once a day, unless disruption led to emergency timetabling.
During winters 2014/5 and 2015/6 Calmac trialled a service into Mallaig, operating on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The ship did two return crossings, allowing islanders the opportunity to get to Inverness for the day. However, poor weather led to frequent cancellations on the route, with no more than 60% of crossings carried out. Reasons behind cancellations include tidal conditions at either port, poor weather in the Minch, and the need to include Barra in the route after several days of disruption, so making Oban the only viable destination. Conspiracy theorists also believe that sailings were cancelled when advance bookings failed to materialise, as the cost of sailing with only 2 or 3 customers would have been unaffordable.
In Summer 2016, Calmac resumed 7 day a week sailings between Mallaig and Lochboisdale. Based on Uist, the ferry sails into Mallaig each morning, and back each evening, allowing islanders to get to Inverness and back every day, although perhaps not a viable commuting option! Rather than making two return crossings a day, the ferry helps out on the Mallaig - Armadale Ferry route during the day. Time will tell as to whether this becomes a permanent route, or if Oban will resume its role as Lochboisdale's mainland port.
2013 Ferries Plan
Following the review of the 2012 draft ferries plan for the coming 10 years, the final plan has now been published. Despite vigorous representations from both South Uist and Mallaig, the plan does not include any imminent plans to re-instate a service to Mallaig. The reasoning is that there is insufficient demand to make a stand alone route - with its own vessel - viable under the RET system and that sharing a vessel with another route - almost certainly Barra would be detrimental to that islands service. The only feasible medium term plan is to maintain the status quo, but introduce one or two extra sailings where possible, particularly to the winter timetable.
|Lord of the Isles||8710869||Calmac||1989-1998 (Oban)