Ferry to make historic trip round Ailsa Craig
The MV Isle of Arran will become the first CalMac ferry to circumnavigate Ailsa Craig this weekend when the 35-year-old vessel makes the charted voyage for Clyde River Steamer Club (CRSC).
Setting off at 11am from Ardrossan, the vessel will make its way to the 99 hectare island which lies 10 miles west of mainland Scotland, south of Arran, and return at 4pm.
Once a popular route by steamers and turbine steamers, when sea cruises were a traditional and regular summer activity, the excursion will be a first and one-off trip for the ferry company and will not interfere with its current service on the Ardrossan to Brodick route.
Taking place today (Saturday) the sailing will include a two-course meal and offer unparalleled views of the volcanic plug famous for its gannet colony and towering granite cliffs.
The MV Isle of Arran is a favourite of many enthusiasts, an impression underlined by the success of CRSC’s Round Arran charter in January 2018 when the ship’s master and crew gave the club a great welcome.
Wooden-hulled paddle steamers began sailing round Ailsa Craig nearly 200 years ago and by the late 19th century the trip had become a regular feature of the Clyde summer excursion programme. Many still remember the Saturday afternoon Round Ailsa Craig cruises given in the 1960s by Duchess of Montrose and Queen Mary II, when the steamer would blow her whistle to arouse the vast number of gannets from their nests - a practice that was eventually stopped because of environmental concerns.
Since the mid 1970s, opportunities to repeat the experience have been limited to the handful of occasions each summer when Waverley undertakes the trip.
A summer view of Ailsa Craig from the deck of the Waverley, showing the steep granite face and gannet colony.
CRSC members mingle with CalMac crew on the bridge of the MV Isle of Arran during the January 2018 charter.
The MV Isle of Arran which will make a charted circumnavigation of Ailsa Craig this weekend.