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Ferry from Oban to Craignure, Scotland

My travelling companion and I plan to visit Iona in September, 2019.
On page 255 of Rick's Scotland 2nd edition tour book, under "By Public Transit" is says that taking the ferry to Oban, bus across Mull, and ferry to Iona, is "Tues-Sat only". Does this mean that the CalMac ferry does not run from Oban to Craignure on Mondays? Or that the public bus across Mull does not run on Mondays? Or the Fionnphot to Iona ferry does not run on Mondays? I find this confusing. Does anyone out there -- like the writer of the guide book -- know why it states "Tues - Sat only"? Surely public transportation runs on Monday?

Posted by
19186 posts

I have only the Scottish information from the Great Britain guidebook. Can you type out exactly what he says, or at least 2 or 3 sentences of it? For public transit not to operate on Monday would be unusual, I agree.

Posted by
4 posts

The wording in Rick's Scotland book is ......."you can take the early ferry and public bus across Mull, paying individually per leg (Tues - Sat only; approximate round-trip prices:....etc." Perhaps it is the round-trip prices that are Tues-Sat only?

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, Blueflax505,

I've found the RS guidebook very confusing in places. I'm sure it's not his fault - probably those pesky proofreaders. There are about 10 ferries daily between Oban and Craignure (Monday - Saturday); and eight on Sunday.

The bus schedule is very confusing. The route is operated by West Coast Motors. Most days, there are four buses scheduled between Craignure and Fionnphort. Some buses run Monday only on a different schedule (possibly for secondary school pupils); others run every day but Monday. Some buses run Tuesday only; others operate every day but Tuesday. There is only one bus on Sunday. The best thing to do is print out the West Coast Motors schedule for routes 96/496, and compare it with the MacBrayne's schedule for the Oban to Craignure run. Be sure to look at the 96/496 schedule, and not the 496 schedule by itself. Also be aware of the last bus leaving Fionnphort. The last bus from Craignure to Fionnphort does not return to Craignure. I have to say that being stranded in Fionnphort, provided you can find accommodation, would be a wonderful way to spend an evening/night!

The ferry from Fionnphort to Iona operates every day starting at 8:35 a.m., with the last ferry back to Fionnphort at 6:00 or 6:15 p.m., depending on the day. The schedule is slightly more limited on Sunday, with less frequent trips, but the ferry does operate every day. Check the Caledonian MacBrayne website for complete ferry schedules.

Hope that helps. Remember not to believe everything that you read in a guidebook!

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: Just as an aside, Fionnphort is pronounced FIN-a-fort. In case you're asking for directions or talking to the bus driver.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for the detailed and useful reply. As I suspected and my other research indicated, public transport does run on Mondays. Perhaps the guidebook is trying to indicate that, because the local bus runs on a limited schedule on Sunday and Monday, a return trip all the way back to Oban in one day could mean you might miss the last ferry. We are staying overnight in Fionnphort and will make our way back via bus and ferry on Tuesday. I will continue to confirm this using other travel schedules as mentioned. Thanks everybody!

Posted by
1737 posts

Way back in 2002, we took the ferry from Oban to Craignure. We brought our rental car so we could better explore Mull.

We stayed just outside Dervaig, at the northern tip of Mull. Peter, who owned the small B&B where we stayed, kept referring to "the cauliflowers". We asked for a clarification. Pointed out that if you are on the road from Craignure to Iona, you see bus after bus shuttling tourists back and forth. When you look in the windows, all the white heads reminded him of cauliflowers.

His use of the term was pejorative, since few ventured any further north. He derived no economic benefit and if he needed to travel south, he was caught in the traffic jam created by the huge buses.

We drove from Dervaig down a wild and beautiful western coastal road to Iona. The road was primarily single track. The northern part if Mull is beautiful. The village of Tobermory is postcard pretty. When we left to continue to Mull, we took the small ferry at Fishnish back to the mainland.