Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Tour of Argyll and Bute Take Two

I see that Caron has attempted to give you tour of Argyll and Bute, Alan Reid's constituency (pictured left). It's geography can read a bit like a Whisky tour comprising both Islay and Jura the two bigger islands to the South, Mull the biggest island to the north plus the northern isles of Coll and Tiree, Colonsay between Islay and Mull plus little Gigha just off the Mull of Kintye and Bute at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde.

Now some island life facts. You can only get to Jura after first visiting Islay and Tiree after first visiting Coll. There is no direct mainland ferry service to either.

Looking at the Caledonian MacBryne timetable lets try and get Alan Reid from Cardross to Tarbert of Jura and back as quickly as possible. There are two ports on Islay Port Ellen in the south and Port Askaig in the North East from where you catch the ferry to Feolin Ferry.

First the time according to RAC Route Planner from Cardross to Kennacraig by road takes 2hrs 37 minutes.

Monday to Saturday there are three services across that wouldn't necessitate and overnight stay after doing something. The 0700 and 0945 from Kennacraig to Port Ellen and the 1300 from Kennacraig to Port Askaig, these arrive at 0920, 1205 and 1505 respectively. CalMac require a 45 check in for a car before boarding. Therefore Alan would have to leave Cardross at 0338, 0623 0r 0938 to get there.

For the first two you'd have to make the 21 mile traverse of Islay to get to Port Askaig. This road isn't dualled so for safety the 1000 crossing may be out. Therefore Alan should get on the 1030 or 1300 crossing to Jura. It is then 24 miles along a single car width road with passing places from Feolin Ferry to Tarbert. These are not roads to be taken lightly. It would require at least 45 minutes to get along there and that is if the road is clear. So the Earliest we could get Alan to Tarbert would be 1115.

Having got to Jura taking the 1530 Ferry back from Port Askaig would require leaving Tarbert by taking at the latest the 1620 ferry back to Islay, safer making the earlier 1425 to account for weather. Giving him only the option of capturing the 0700 Ferry to make this one back with just about 2 hours in Tarbert.

So instead lets head for the 1800 from Port Ellen instead back to Kennacraig arriving at 2020. But CalMac need you to book in a car 45 minutes before which means having to get the 1645 Ferry from Feolin Ferry (leaving Tarbert no later than 1600) then driving the 21 miles across Islay in the 25 minutes from when the ferry is scheduled to land. Far safer to catch the 1610 to give you an extra 35 minutes to allow for sheep, tractors or distillery lorries. This means the leaving Tarbert at 1525.
Don't forget there is still that 2hrs 37 trip home so for maximum of 4hr 15 minute in Tarbert on Jura Alan Reid would have to leave Cardrossan at 0338 and get back home at 2257. Therefore an 19 hour 19 minute day of which 15 hours and 5 is travelling for just over 4 hours in one of the far flung corners. Michael Beckford you are welcome to try and do just that one trip if you have an issue with Alan Reid claiming an overnight stay in a B&B whilst utilising time and money to do a tour.


Armin said...

Actually, you can make this journey much much shorter, as there is now a (passenger only) direct ferry to Jura. It operates from Tayvallich (not far from Lochgilphead) directly to Craighouse.

Details here:

Stephen Glenn said...

Thanks for that.

I wasn't aware this has started up. Although it does lead to limiting access on Jura itself as you'd have to walk everywhere. Or find some alternative local transport.

PJ said...

I grew up in Argyll and one of the joys of the area is that everything happens slooooowly.

You can't rush from one place to another in a car (because you'll inevitably get stuck behind a forestry lorry), same for buses. The nearest train station was over an hour away (in the car or bus that was stuck behind the lorry). And as for the ferries, well they were on CalMac time and definitely couldn't be rushed (relied upon).

You could maybe plan a nice tight schedule on AA Autoroute, but I guarantee it'll take longer than expected. Apart from the logistical considerations there is another point - by staying overnight in a B&B, Alan Reid is actually spending more time with the people he represents. Isn't that a good thing?

Stephen Glenn said...

Yeah I know I did account for that especially on Islay. I've driven some of thar route myself and I know what you mean.

And yeah I wholeheartedly agree that not rushing around when he gets somewhere in order to get back is a good thing. Just the journo's down at Canary Wharf, where I have also sepnt some time, don't seem to realise that.

PJ said...

If you have never been (and can hack the midges) you should definitely go. It's one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Scotland!!

Stephen Glenn said...

I said I'd only driven some of the route. I didn't say I hadn't been. I've sailed around there a few times.

PJ said...

I think we wrote our comments at the same time. I hadn't read your's when I sent my tourist boardesque recommendation. Glad you've seen some of it.


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