With Isle of Arran out of action, Hebridean Isles undertook this summer’s final Sunday afternoon excursion from Ardrossan to Campbeltown.
The sailing to Campbeltown on 23 September was not the first time ‘Heb Isles’ had visited the Kintyre port, but it did mark her debut on the Sunday return trip from Ardrossan. Conditions were perfect, so it was no surprise to find a large number of enthusiasts seizing the opportunity to do a Clyde cruise on a Hebridean ferry. As the ship headed out from Ardrossan Harbour at 1350, there was no mistaking the special atmosphere on board.
This was more than a Sunday afternoon jaunt: it was a social occasion, almost like a CRSC outing, with familiar faces all round the decks having a good blether — including a smattering of Waverley-ites in the absence of the paddler down south.
The sunny weather made all the difference. The ship faced a fresh head-wind on the way across, but it was a warm wind, and there was no rolling.
The open foredeck in front of the bridge was well filled throughout the voyage, especially on the way out, as first Pladda came into view and then Davaar Island.
Berthing procedures at Campbeltown were unfussily handled by Captain Tony McQuade. Seven vehicles were counted going off, while the numbers getting on were in the mid 20s.
For those bold enough to nip ashore for a photo (by the car deck — no gangway), there was just time to hot-foot it to the pier head and back.
As Hebridean Isles left Campbeltown Loch on the return voyage, everyone seemed to converge on the Mariners restaurant — with good reason. The catering staff under Kenny Gillies put up a typically good show, with homemade chicken broth and steak pie going down especially well: a credit to CalMac.
It was beginning to get dark as ‘Heb Isles’ approached Ardrossan, but the beautiful full moon above the hills behind Saltcoats made for a picturesque finale. Captain McQuade manoeuvred the ship into her berth bang on time.
Incidentally, this vessel’s late September long weekend on the Clyde was the first time CalMac’s two-worded ‘Isles’ ferries (Caledonian Isles and Hebridean Isles) had been on the same route at the same time. It was good to see the latter ferry using the new harbour facilities at Brodick with such ease.
Indeed, everything on her latest Clyde visit went to plan — a notable end to a summer that, across the CalMac network, had its fair share of surprises.
Thanks to Walter Bowie, Stuart Craig and Neil Guthrie for photos. All images on this website are copyrighted by their respective owners. No reproduction on any public platform, including Facebook, without prior permission in writing: firstname.lastname@example.org