Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ferry Good!

Although we're being Frugal through February and spending no money unless we have to, one of our final spends for January was to get the ferries booked ready for our Hebrides trip later in the year. We're doing things slightly differently this year, and this means that for the first time in a good few years we're making use of one of Calmac's "Hopscotch" tickets. These are designed to allow people who want to tour from Island to Island to do it with a slight saving over the cost of the individual tickets. We used to use one when we spent a week on Lewis as well as a week on North Uist - the ticket gave us the Uig > Lochmaddy crossing, the Sound of Harris crossing, and finally the trip back across from Stornoway to Ullapool. The past few years though we've used a straight return ticket from Uig > Lochmaddy and back again, and paid separately for our crossing from Mallaig to Skye...

M.V. Coruisk arriving at Mallaig from Armadale, Skye
 The downside of crossing back from Lochmaddy to Uig at the end of the holiday has always been the timing. The ferry goes at 7.30am, meaning that you have to be at the terminal at 6.45am latest. This in turn means being ready to leave the cottage at just before 6.30, and being up around an hour ahead of that. Not an ideal ending to a holiday, to be quite honest. Friends of ours refer to this crossing as the "Crack of Death" ferry - and have been saying to us for years they don't know how we do it, so far as we're concerned we wonder WHY we do it!

M.V. Hebrides arriving in Uig.
 As we drove back last year we were discussing the other possibilities for getting back across. The later crossing from Lochmaddy means not getting back to Uig until well after 5pm - far too late to make it down as far as we want to on the first day of our return journey. That leaves the option of driving all the way down to South Uist and crossing from Lochboisdale to Oban instead. The ferry (hopefully M.V.Hebrides sister-ship Clansman) from there departs at a far more civilised 2.05pm, meaning we'll need to be there for just after 1pm. The crossing is far longer at just over 5 hours, and MrEH is slightly concerned about that, but I'm thoroughly looking forward to it - I love ferries! Time for a nice bit of lunch, a sit up on the deck weather permitting, maybe a snooze.....

Eilean Donan Castle
 We'll arrive at Oban at just after 7pm, and hopefully it will take about 2½ hours to get to our overnight stop at Stirling. Although this will be a bit further north, and a bit later than we usually stop, we're working on the basis that we'll feel so much better for the leisurely trip back it'll be worth the slightly longer drive on the Sunday!  As a result of the change of route, for the first time since we started driving up we won't see "Eileen's Donut" (above) at all this year - copyright on that nickname belongs to the lovely Alastair by the way - instead we will be seeing this view....


...for the first time in about 7 years, we think. In fact, the last time we got a ferry in or out of Oban I didn't even have a digital SLR camera - hence the slightly dodgy scanned shot above!

Robyn.

6 comments:

Selma said...

Oh how my heart longs for Scotland! I spent half a year living near Inverness and during that time I visited some of these stunning islands. As I recently relocated to Denmark and haven't found a job yet, it seems like I won't just have a frugal February but a frugal 2013, but if I get lucky and find a job sometime soon I know what I'll be spending my money on :-) Thank you for sharing!

Selma said...

Andrea@Familyconnect said...

Sounds like you have planned a wonderful trip.
I took your advice and went on the cable car across the Thames this weekend. Loved it!

Robyn said...

Andrea I'm really glad you loved the cablecar - it's such good fun! x

Orkneyflowers said...

All sounding deeply sensible. Our early boat is at 6.30 daily, let's just say I've been on it probably less than 5 times. That is not a time to be up. Even if the scenery is breathtaking. Bonnie sail from south uist to Oban, in and out of the isles. You'll definitely be glad of your camera and the time will just swoosh by!

Robyn said...

It is indeed a lovely crossing that one. Of course, it's also the crossing that we first went over on (well, to Castlebay, but near enough the same) in rather rough seas, when MrEH decided that the outside of "MV Lord of the Isles" needed redecoration....he's got his fingers firmly crossed that MV Clansman is doing the run that day! (And that the weather is better!)