Many of Scotland's west coast ferries provide lifeline services for islands by linking them with parts of the mainland. There's a sense in which the ferry from Tobermory on Mull to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula is different. This ferry provides a lifeline service for one of the most remote parts of the Scottish mainland by linking it to the largest settlement on an island.
For visitors touring western Scotland, the Tobermory to Kilchoan ferry opens up a range of interesting possibilities. When combined with either of Mull's two other ferry routes, Oban to Craignure or Lochaline to Fishnish, this route gives you a chance to combine exploration of one of Scotland's most attractive islands with a visit to mainland UK's most westerly point. For anyone considering this, the ferry operators CalMac offer a selection of "Hopscotch" tickets for people wishing to combine a number of different ferries, and these tend to be very good value when compared with the combined fares of the individual crossings. Details are on their website, linked on the right.
There have been times during its history when this route has been operated by passenger only ferries. Today the service is provided by vehicle ferries all year round, though in winter you are more likely to find the smaller "landing craft" type ferry, the MV Raasay, shown on the left.
There has been a vehicle-capable ferry operating this route in summer since 1985, but it was only after slipways were built in Tobermory and at Mingary Pier near Kilchoan in 1991 that vehicles could actually be carried. An all-year-round service was introduced at about the same time as the ferry now operating the route in summer, MV Loch Linnhe, arrived in 1999.
The Loch Linnhe is capable of carrying 203 passengers and 12 cars and she was one of four similar ferries built for CalMac by Richard Dunston (Hessle) Ltd, a shipyard on the River Humber a little west of Hull. She was launched in 1986, and spent much of her early working life linking Largs in Ayrshire with the island of Great Cumbrae, before being transferred to her current route. In winter she stands in as a relief ship for vessels being serviced elsewhere in the fleet.