An Enthusiast’s Winter — Part 2

Three Lochs: Loch Shira, Lochinvar and Loch Riddon at Largs on 15 November 2016. Copyright Gordon Law

In the second instalment of his winter diary, Gordon Law reveals what a busy pier Largs can be in the off-season.

My winter continued on November 15 with the arrival at Largs of the Mallaig to Armadale ferry Lochinvar. Following her service on the Sound of Sleat, Lochinvar had relieved Hallaig at Raasay and here she was at Largs prior to a three-week lay-up at Lochranza, one of the ports specially equipped for the hybrid ferries. On arrival at Largs Lochinvar shared the pier with Loch Shira and Loch Riddon.

Loch Tarbert basks in the winter sun off Largs on 23 November 2016. Copyright Gordon Law

My next subject, Loch Tarbert, caught me unawares. The vessel was en route from Sandbank to Ardmaleish for overhaul when she appeared at Largs on November 23. I was heading to Cumbrae in lovely weather for a walk and a coffee in the Garrison when Loch Shira passed the smaller vessel in the Largs Channel. Luckily my camera was with me and the moment was duly recorded as was Loch Shira at Cumbrae Slip. I have to say that there was no sign of the ‘Millport Mafia’ on the island on this occasion (i.e. Messrs Clark and Forrest!).

Another Western Isles unit appeared at Largs on November 28 with the visit of Loch Alainn. The ‘old’ Largs ferry, now operating on the Sound of Barra route between Barra and Eriskay, was also heading to Ardmaleish for her annual overhaul.

Into 2017 and there was no let-up in the number of visitors to Largs. Catriona appeared on January 4 as she made her way from her winter duties between Kintyre, Arran and Cowal to overhaul at the Garvel — and what memories of Machrie Moor came flooding back!

The off-season highlight for most ‘ferry freaks’ was the appearance on the Arran run in January of the two oldest major CalMac ferries, Hebridean Isles and Isle of Arran, to relieve Caledonian Isles for overhaul. This was to be a first time on the Ardrossan to Brodick service for ‘Heb Isles’, although she had called at both ports on prior occasion. I sailed on the veteran ferry on January 5 and 14, the second date being one of Neil Guthrie’s famous and highly successful New Year CRSC outings.

Since then Lochinvar (this time on relief duty), Loch Portain and Loch Fyne have all visited the Ayrshire port and will feature — along with other scheduled and unscheduled calls to the Clyde — in my final winter round-up.

New Year greeting: Catriona meets Loch Shira off Largs on 4 January 2017. Copyright Gordon Law

Welcome back: Loch Alainn at Largs on 28 November 2016. Copyright Gordon Law

Isle of Arran at Brodick on 14 January 2017. Copyright Gordon Law

Hebridean Isles at Ardrossan on 14 January 2017. Copyright Gordon Law

The winter of 2016-17 found ‘Heb Isles’ making her debut on the Ardrossan-Brodick service. She was pictured by Gordon Law at Brodick on the occasion of CRSC’s January 14 outing to Arran

Catch up with all CRSC’s previous posts at News & Reports