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Pentland Ferry

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Pentland Ferry
Location Map ( geo)
Pentalina - Geograph - 1340854.jpg
Cameraicon.png View gallery (4)
From:  Gills Bay (Caithness)
To:  St Margaret's Hope (Orkney)
Distance:  28.4 km (17.6 miles)
Caithness • Orkney
Current Operator
Pentland Ferries
£43 (Car+driver, 2009)
On road(s)
 • A836 • B9043
Crossings related to the A836


This is the most recent of the many car-ferry routes to have connected the Orkney Islands to mainland Scotland. It is also the shortest, and so the best value, especially with the new Catamaran in service. The service started in May 2001, originally operating ex-Calmac ferries, but now using the much faster Pentalina Catamaran.


Gills Bay Ferry Terminal

Whilst the ferry terminal on South Ronaldsay may still be work in progress, a new terminal building at Gills Bay offers as good a service as Calmac do! The crossing can take as little as 45 minutes, although more usually it is around an hour and can be up to an hour and twenty minutes in particularly bad weather. The ferry sails from Gills Bay, just off the A836 between Thurso and John O'Groats, to St Margaret's Hope, just off the B9043 on South Ronaldsay, Orkney. There are normally 3 or 4 sailings each way each day, with a capacity of 32 cars and 9 Artics, or around 56 cars alone. The ferry only has a stern loading ramp, meaning that lorries have to reverse on - for Artics this is normally done by the ferry staff with their own fleet of 4 tugs.

Cars are taken on and off forwards, with their carrying space being under the passenger accommodation on either side of the deck, the central space being open and used by lorries and taller vehicles. This allows cars to turn around by using both sides of the deck, one on and one off. The two car areas are marked out for dual rows of vehicles, although this does prove to be a tight squeeze!

St Margarets Hope Terminal

Thanks to the use of a catamaran and a shorter, more sheltered crossing, using the lee of Stroma for much of the route across the Pentland Firth, the Pentland Ferry service is less affected by weather conditions than the rival, and government subsidised, Northlink Service from Scrabster to Stromness. This has allowed it to take a significant volume of the commercial traffic heading to or from the Orkneys.


Name IMO Operator Dates Notes
Pentalina 9437969 Pentland Ferries 2009-date 58 cars
Orcadia 7615490 Pentland Ferries 2015-2017 Bought for freight service. Uncertain if ever used
Claymore 7715434 Pentland Ferries 2002-2009 50 cars
Pentalina B 7009653 Pentland Ferries 1997-2009 47 cars


Gills Bay Side

Route To Notes


John o' Groats, Wick (A99), Inverness (A9)


Thurso, Castletown

St Margaret's Hope

Route To Notes








Pentland Ferry
Related Pictures
View gallery (4)
Pentalina - Geograph - 1340854.jpgPentalina1.jpgGills bay1.jpgSt-marg-hope1.jpg
Other nearby roads
NCN1 • A960 • A961 • A962 • A963 • A964 • A965 • A966 • A967 • A986 • B9040 (Orkney) • B9041 • B9042 • B9043 • B9044 • B9045 • B9046 • B9047 • B9048 • B9049 • B9049 (Quoyness) • B9050 • B9051 • B9052 • B9053 • B9054 • B9054 (Finstown - Twatt) • B9055 • B9056 • B9057 • B9058 • B9059 • B9060 • B9061 • B9062 • B9063 • B9064 • B9065 • B9066 • B9067 • B9068 • B9069 • B9070 • B9148
Crossings to and within the Orkney Isles
Ferries to the Orkney IslesScrabster Ferry • Pentland Ferry • Aberdeen to Kirkwall • Lerwick to Kirkwall
Crossings within the Orkney IslesChurchill Barriers • Flotta & Hoy Ferry • Hoy & Graemsay Ferry • Shapinsay Ferry • Rousay Ferry • Stronsay Ferry • Eday Ferry • Sanday Ferry • Westray Ferry • North Ronaldsay Ferry
Other AreasIrish Sea • Inner Hebrides • Western Isles • Shetland • Orkney • North Sea • English Channel • Solent • Inland Crossings • Other Island Crossings

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