• Bittersweet return after death of founding director
The Kylerhea to Glenelg ferry will go back into service on 1st May, a year and a half after it last sailed.
Ferry company directors took the decision not to operate the service for the 2020 season in the interests of public and crew safety during the Covid pandemic.
The vessel, MV Glenachulish, which normally runs from Easter to mid-October, has been tied up at the Kishorn boat yard since the autumn of 2019.
This week, general manager Jo Crawford from Glenelg said the boat was undergoing final checks and it was hoped to resume the service on Saturday 1st May.
“It was a big miss last year, for locals and visitors alike,” said Ms Crawford.
“We have put in additional measures to comply with Covid regulations including sanitising stations at both slipways and all the crew have been issued with PPE.
“We have secured some grant assistance for opening up again and the ferry’s 15 employees will be taken out of furlough. We will have a few days of crew training and then the ferry will be back in service after a gap of a year and a half. It will be a boost for everyone.
“For people in Glenelg the ferry makes a big difference. If you want to go to the supermarket in Kyle it’s a 50-mile round trip, compared to 10 miles to Broadford when the ferry’s running. It changes the experience of living in this corner of the west Highlands, particularly when there’s snow on the hill.”
But Ms Crawford said there would be a poignancy when the ferry sailed again this season.
Former Glenelg innkeeper Chris Main, who was a founding director of the Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company, passed away in January.
Ms Crawford said: “We all felt Chris’s death really keenly here. He was the ferry’s most fervent supporter and would be down most days to get the craic with the crew.”
Mr Main’s children, Poppy and Joss, launched a crowdfunder on online fundraising platform JustGiving.com in their father’s memory to raise £10,000 to help maintain MV Glenachulish. To date almost £13,000 has been raised for the Glenachulish Preservation Trust with donations pouring in from all over.
Ms Crawford added: “We’re really grateful to them for that support. It’s wonderful. The Glenachulish is the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland and at 52 years old is always needing work done on it.”
The ferry will run seven days a week, 10am to 6pm, and to 7pm in June, July and August.