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Oban-Mull via Glencoe & Lochaline

Hi all. As the title suggests, we will be driving from Oban to Lochaline for the ferry to Isle of Mull. This is for a trip in early April.

Our plan is as follows:

  • drive from Oban to Glencoe (via the coastal route); Spend some time there

  • Drive from Glencoe to Corran for the ferry to Ardgour

  • drive from Ardgour to Lochaline

  • Take ferry from Lochaline to Fishnish on Isle of Mull


  • does the above sound doable or would you suggest we leave Glencoe for another time? We are ok reaching Isle of Mull by 4/5 pm that evening. (I am also timing this on the gps to get a sense)

  • what should we expect on the drive from Oban to Lochaline (via Glencoe or not) in terms of roads- single track, well-maintained, any other concerns? (I am also trying to see streetviews on google maps to get an idea)

  • any tips on driving?

Thank you!

Posted by
40 posts

Thanks Richard. Looks like they Corran Ferry is back up & running this year so hoping it goes well.

Posted by
6486 posts

The Corran ferry is back in operation, BUT the relief vessel is currently broken down and under repair. She is hoped to be back in service sometime in May. So if the service boat also breaks down there is no available standby. If that happens traffic has to divert round the Loch via Fort William.

If that happened it is six of one and half a dozen of the other whether to route to Lochaline via Ardgour or Acharacle.

The other issue currently is that the Lochaline route vessel is broken down and in dry dock at Greenock. The vessel from Kilchoan is covering the route pro tem, but she has a smaller capacity.

That also means that a Charter vessel (foot pax only) is currently covering Kilchoan to Tobermory.

A time frame for repair of the Lochaline vessel is expected before Easter.

Intending pax are asked to route via Oban/Craignure if possible, at least until Easter.

Posted by
40 posts

Thank you for that information! We have managed to secure Oban-Craignure Tickets now. There was some error with their online ticketing so we had to book a back up via Lochaline which we still have in case we do need to use it!

Out of curiosity, I understand that these ferries are a lifeline for locals as well- how do locals, businesses etc manage with such kind of disruptions?

Posted by
6486 posts

With the Corran ferry last year extra foot passenger ferries were laid on from Ardgour and Camusnagaul direct to Fort William, extra buses laid on and the road from Ardgour via Camusnagaul to the main A890 round the loch widened. So people parked on the Ardgour side and used the foot ferries or extra buses or swallowed the extra costs to drive round.

But there was a lot of local uproar last year when a short term issue went on for many months. You can read on line the latest Highland Council plans to deal with another failure, if it happens.

Although it never happened there was talk last summer about recruiting army assistance to provide military landing craft.

They are trying to send tourist traffic via Craignure partly to keep the other route free for vital local traffic- both cars and freight.

Within the next few years there are 6 new big ships and 10 new small ships on order to relieve the issues of an ageing fleet.

One of the odd side issues is that the filling station at Kilchoan has had no fuel since Christmas due to infrastructure issues. So locals were having to ferry over to Tobermory or drive up to Strontian to refuel. Temporarily the ferry route is now unavailable!

On some islands (like Lismore) people keep 2 cars (an ancient thing on island) and a more up to date mainland car. Many of the western isles are exempt from MOT testing, which helps. So as long as it is runs you can drive anything.

It's part and parcel of living on an island- the same as weather disruptions. But the reliability of new vessels is now in desperate need.

There is a race on now for the first of the new big ships in September/October with the smart money being on the new ship for Islay to arrive from her shipyard in Turkey.

Posted by
6486 posts

Normal service has now been restored on the Lochaline and Kilchoan routes. The Lochaline route vessel has been repaired.

If travelling on the Craignure route between 15 April and 10 May that timetable is now in the process of being amended as CalMac are currently one big ship short due to delays in the winter overhaul schedule- thus Craignure will be run with two smaller vessels (the Coruisk and the Loch Frisa) in that period- leading to a loss of capacity. That revised timetable will be confirmed ASAP.

Posted by
6486 posts

CalMac have finally published their temporary timetable for Craignure for the 4 weeks from Monday-

There is not sufficient capacity on the two small boats for existing vehicle bookings- some of which are being cancelled with passengers being diverted to the other routes (Lochaline and Kilchoan) which will therefore both be busier than normal.

An additional passenger only charter vessel is being investigated.