Ferry passengers sleep in their cars as high winds cancel sailings

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Hundreds of visitors on Arran have been facing lengthy delays returning to the Scottish mainland after emergency wind warnings were issued causing CalMac to cancel its ferry services.

More disruption to road, air and ferry services is expected tomorrow for commuters after the Met Office issued two yellow warnings. Wind gusts of up to 80mph are forecast for parts of east, central and north-west Scotland.

CalMac had to cancel some services due to adverse weather conditions.

CalMac had to cancel some services due to adverse weather conditions.

The Met Office also warned there was a small chance of “danger to life” from large waves and debris from beaches being blown onto roads.

The warnings run from 5am today until 9pm on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Edinburgh Castle closed its doors to visitors today from noon until 2pm as a health and safety measure after an inspection deemed the grounds too dangerous for walking around.

A spokeswoman for the Met Office said that as well as gales tomorrow, Scotland could see snow on Wednesday and into Thursday.

She said: “There are likely to be gusts of 50-60mph on Tuesday with winds reaching around 70-75 mph on high grounds and exposed coastlines.

“There will be gales and strong gusts for much of the west and north, with bands of showers coming through.

“It will be also be quite cold on Wednesday with temperatures at 6C or 7C. There is the risk later in the day and into Thursday of snow falling over high ground.”

"I think the real problem is that CalMac doesn't have enough vessels for all the routes." - Graeme Murray, ferry passenger.

Graeme Murray, a freelance journalist from Glasgow who spent Hogmanay on Arran, had to extend his stay last week after his ferry was cancelled due to high winds.

“My mum and dad live on the island, so it wasn’t a problem for me, but some people were left looking for accommodation or sleeping in their cars,” he said.

“I know that it is common for ferries to be cancelled due to the weather, but I think the real problem is that CalMac doesn’t have enough vessels for all the routes.

“The ferry I got back was a much smaller, lighter vessel, which normally covers the Islay route.”

"Unfortunately, it is a reality of island life that in mid-winter there is always a likelihood that some sailings will be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions." - Robert Morrison, Cal Mac.

CalMac’s director of operations Robert Morrison said: “There has been severe weather-related disruption since the New Year with gusts of up to 60mph impacting on our ability to deliver services to Arran and elsewhere.

“In such conditions, ships’ masters will take a decision on whether it is safe to sail or not based on wind speed and direction, sea swell and tidal conditions combined with their experience of sailing in west coast waters.

“Unfortunately, it is a reality of island life that in mid-winter there is always a likelihood that some sailings will be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions impacting on passengers ability to travel.”