Speed Bonnie Boat

28 April 2016

speed bonnie boat

There is no denying that the opening of the Skye Bridge was a massive boost to tourism to the islands with journey times shortened and accessibility increased. The now defunct ferry journey could at times be slow and crowded but it did have a certain amount of old fashioned charm. For those not in a hurry or who would like to arrive on holiday the scenic way there are a number of options for sea journeys that are worthwhile as a means of getting to your destination but also as an end in themselves.

The closest thing to the old Kyle ferry is the Glenachulish, the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland. There has been a crossing from Glenelg to Kylerhea on Skye for hundreds of years and a tiny car ferry here since 1934. The drive itself to get to the crossing is on narrow single-track roads and the reward at the end is an atmospheric and timeless journey that is like taking a step back in time. Teangue House on the Sleat Peninsula is only a short drive from here and has amazing views back over the water you have just journeyed across. An inspiring place to relax after an incredible journey.

Most visitors to Mull come via the large Calmac ferry from Oban to Tobermory. It’s a comfortable and relaxing way to arrive but for aficionados of slow travel then nothing beats the crossing from Fishnish to Lochaline. The half hour journey is considerably shorter than the alternatives and slightly poignant as the ferry now operating this route was one of those originally made redundant by the building of the Skye Bridge. With the improvements to the Corran Ferry sailing then it is now relatively easy to have a day trip to Fort William from the Island. Glenforsa House sits by the coast only a ten minute drive from the pier or a short cycle if you wanted to spend a day exploring the Morvern peninsula on two wheels.

Up until the 1930s almost all travellers to Campbeltown would have arrived by sea. With improvements to the road network across Kintyre the number of ferry sailings dwindled, but three years ago a pilot project was launched to reintroduce a regular service from Ardrossan and it has proved so popular with locals and tourists alike that Calmac has just announced that it is to become permanent. For those driving to Kintyre from the south or the central belt it cuts a huge amount off the journey time. Kirkland House is located just south of Tarbert so its luxury, history and scenery are now more accessible than ever.

John o’ Groats has traditionally been regarded as the end of the road for tourists venturing to the far north, despite its notoriety its attractions pale in comparison to the most north westerly point on the Scottish mainland, Cape Wrath. The track to the lighthouse, perched on the edge of the cliffs here is not connected to the road network so unless you wish to hike for days along the Cape Wrath Trail, then the passenger ferry from just outside Durness is the only option. A mini bus meets the ferry on the other side for the drive to the lighthouse but you can easily take bikes if you would like to travel a bit slower and take in some of the outstanding scenery. The wild landscapes, sea cliffs and remote beaches here rival anywhere in Scotland. Culkein Lodge is an easy drive down the coast and sits right on the edge of the sea in a quiet bay. A great base for exploring all the stunning natural attractions the north-west has to offer.

The ferry journey to the Isle of Luing takes only three minutes but it is akin to travelling to a different world. A world of green pastures and rural idyll where things just move at a slower pace. The luxury of Adrlarach Lodge is only a few hours away from the central belt but it is that short ferry trip that seems to act like a switch in your brain, as you land on the island the stresses of life fade and the holiday starts. Book now through LHH and receive two complementary return ferry tickets.