Island Seascape MV Lord of the Isles

With the 'MV Clansman' down in Liverpool for her annual overhaul and certification the 'MV Lord of the Isles' is serving the Isles of Coll and Tiree. It being January it is still the winter timetable, which means a sailing to these islands 5 days a week. (There is no sailing to Coll and Tiree on a Wednesday or a Friday.)

Ben More

Under the winter timetable sailings normally depart Oban Ferry Terminal at 7:15am and arrive at Tiree at 11:05am. In normal circumstances the ferry stops twice at Coll, once on the way to Tiree and once on the return sailing. Occasionally if the weather is adverse the vessel only calls once at Coll.

A Hebridean Munro

The sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree is through some of the most spectacular Highland and Island seascapes. After departing Oban Bay the ferry crosses the firth of Lorne, past Lismore Lighthouse and into the Sound of Mull. On a day such as today mountain peaks are covered by sunlit snow.

An Island Seascape

Having past Tobermory on the Isle of Mull the ferry rounds Ardmore Point and Rubha Nan Gall, Lighthouse. Not long afterwards the vessel briefly enters the 'Little Minch' before entering the Passage of Tiree. In stormy weather the waters of the Little Minch can be 'challenging', especially for those who suffer from sea-sickness.

In Gott Bay

On a clear day several of the 'Small Isles' are visible to starboard - including Eigg and Rum. To port is the Isle of Mull. At 9:55am the ferry berths at the Isle of Coll before proceeding south down the Passage of Tiree.

MV Lord of the Isles in Gott Bay

As the ferry continues on towards Tiree to starboard is the Isle of Coll and to port is the Isle of Mull and the Treshnish Isles. On Mull the skyline is dominated by Ben More - at present capped with snow. From Tiree we look out across the Passage of Tiree to the Treshnish Isles and Ben More on the Isle of Mull and even beyond that to snow capped Mainland mountain peaks.

The MV Lord of the Isles in Gott Bay.

In just under an hour the ferry swings to starboard in order to enter the waters of Gott Bay. The island's pier is at Scarinish, Gott Bay. The ferry has to swing through 180 degrees to enable it to berth with its stern to the link-span.

The MV Lord of the Isles prepares to come alongside the pier

From the pier the view across Gott Bay is towards the crofting township of Ruaig. The backdrop is the Rum Cuillins which appear to be part of Tiree but in fact are several miles distant, beyond the Isle of Coll.

MV Lord of the Isles berthing

For operational reasons Saturday's sailing meant only one stop at Coll. There are problems with the MV Isle of Arran, so changes have to be made in order to provide cover for the disrupted services.


In the present circumstances where traffic is reduced due to the pandemic there appeared to be more vehicles than one would have expected. The reason soon became apparent. There were very few vehicles in the marshalling lanes by the pier office. Yet, when it came to loading the ferry there suddenly were far more vehicles.

Securing the stern ropes

In order to maximise the use of the car deck the Coll traffic for Oban had been off loaded and then reloaded. The reality was the traffic for Tiree was light, indeed there were unusually few commercial vehicles.

Drivers make their way down the link span.

At both Coll and Tiree commercial vehicle drivers can be seen walking down the link span in order to bring off vehicles from the car deck. Vehicles are boarded at Oban and parked in 'the garage'. This avoids tying up drivers for two or more days in the ports and saves incurring costly hotel bills.

Lord of the Isles framed by the dolphins

In the Winter Timetable the MV Lord of the Isles would normally make two crossings to Tiree on a Saturday. She has a much reduced capacity compared to the MV Clansman. However because of problems elsewhere in the network there is only the one crossing today Saturday.


When the MV Lord of the Isles commenced on the Oban, Coll, Tiree route she was regarded as a large vessel. Now compared to the MV Clansman and the MV Hebrides she appears much smaller. Although one of the older vessels she is still a favourite with many.

The wings of the Bridge.

Whatever the weather it is always a delight to observe the ferry berthing. However for those working on the pier conditions can be very challenging especially when it is windy and there is a swell running. Ropes under tension can be a hazard! For this reason foot passengers are kept well clear of the ropes.

A Colourful Panormama

With blue sky the waters of Gott Bay sparkled various shades of blue. As the MV Lord of the Isles sat alongside the pier she she was a colourful addition to the panoramic view that took in the Rum Cuillins.

Oban Bound

As soon as the vessel was loaded, the stern ramp was raised and the vessel was secured in readiness for getting under way. The ropes were then released and the ferry headed out to sea.

LOTI has side ramps that are never used.

The sky over Tiree was bright blue. As often is the case there was like an island of blue over Tiree while looking out to Mull there were some high level clouds.

Heading out to sea

The wind on Saturday was from the East and was light by Tiree standards. - gusting to 33mph. With the wind from the east it was bitterly cold . . . 4 degrees.

A good bow wave

On Sunday 31st January the ferry will depart at Oban 1340 and arrive Coll at 1620. It will Depart Coll at 1635 and arrive Tiree after sunset at 1730. Inbound to Oban there will be no stop at Coll.vArrival in Oban will be at 2130.

Heading out into the Passage of Tiree

The CalMac Status Page indicates that Monday's sailing (1st of February) has been cancelled for operational reasons. Those intending to come to Tiree will require to sail on either Sunday or Tuesday.

Distant Snow Capped Peaks

On Tuesday 2nd February the ferry will be sailing to a revised timetable. It will depart Oban at 1140 and arrive Coll at 1420. It will depart Coll at 1435 and arrive Tiree at 1530. The ferry will depart Tiree at 1600 and arrive Oban at 1930. There will only be one stop at Coll.

Bound for Oban

This is 'Life on Tiree'.

Created By
Alan Millar


Alan H Millar- Life on Tiree