Ferry to make his­toric trip round Ailsa Craig

The Arran Banner - - News -

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.

One-off trip

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.

Pho­to­graph cour­tesy of CRSC.

A sum­mer view of Ailsa Craig from the deck of the Waver­ley, show­ing the steep gran­ite face and gan­net colony.

Pho­to­graph cour­tesy of CRSC.

CRSC mem­bers min­gle with CalMac crew on the bridge of the MV Isle of Ar­ran dur­ing the Jan­uary 2018 char­ter.

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The MV Isle of Ar­ran which will make a charted cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of Ailsa Craig this week­end.

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