Critical Highland ferry service suspended on Good Friday as busy Easter weekend starts

The main Highland ferry that services the Ardgour peninsula has been suspended at the start of the busy Easter weekend in a move that has been labelled “hugely disruptive”.

The Corran Ferry – Europe’s busiest single-vessel ferry route – was pulled from service on Good Friday.

The service, which crosses the Corran Narrows on Loch Linnhe, south of Fort William, is operated by Highland Council.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The ferry operators posted on Twitter: “Due to technical difficulties the service is currently suspended … sorry for inconvenience.” An updated post at 3pm said: “Unfortunately due to ferry breakdown issues, there will be no Corran Ferry service over the coming days.”

The Corran ferry preparing to dock at Nether Lochaber. Picture: Neil HannaThe Corran ferry preparing to dock at Nether Lochaber. Picture: Neil Hanna
The Corran ferry preparing to dock at Nether Lochaber. Picture: Neil Hanna

The ferry is a landmark for those heading to and from Fort William on the A82, with the service carrying 270,000 cars annually. Journeys typically take about six minutes across the Corran Narrows.

The ferry and its back-up vessel are 23 and 47 years old respectively and have been in urgent need of replacement. The latter, Maid of Glencoul, is nearly four decades into a second career after working in Sutherland.

Scottish Conservative Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: "This is dreadful news coming right at the start of the busy Easter weekend. It will be hugely disruptive for local residents, visitors and businesses, forcing people to undertake far longer road journeys or to cancel plans entirely.

"That could be devastating for some local businesses, particularly within tourism and hospitality, who were looking forward to a much-needed boost from the holiday season. Unfortunately, this is exactly the scenario we warned about when it became clear the Corran Narrows service was going to be left relying on keeping a 47-year-old vessel, The Maid of Glencoul, operating with no back up at all.

"As the previous incumbent promised me they would do, the new transport minister must come and meet with local residents and other stakeholders to hear their concerns over the lack of resilience of the service, something so starkly highlighted today.

"Local people and businesses deserve a lot better than the service they're currently getting, and they must be able to have some hope that things will improve.

"I know just how frustrating this must be for those who were planning to use the service today. It is simply unacceptable.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Transport minister Kevin Stewart said: “The operation of transport links across the Corran Narrows is the responsibility of the Highland Council. Any decisions on maintenance, upgrades or options to replace ferries would be a matter for them. I would be happy to visit Lochaber in due course, to learn more about the council’s plans for the Corran Narrows.

”The previous Deputy First Minister also announced in the Budget process that the Scottish Government would provide full revenue funding to councils who run their own ferry services. Officials are in discussions with the Highland Council about these costs.”

The Highland Council was contacted for comment.

The suspension comes as operator CalMac separately battles problems with its own ferry fleet servicing the Highlands and islands. The company confirmed last month the massively delayed CalMac ferry Glen Sannox would need nearly two months of further tests before entering passenger service.

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.