Friday, 25 August 2017

Blairmore By (Water) Bus (2)

From Roughly 100 Years Ago
Like most vessels of her day, the Paddle Steamer Caledonia (the first to carry that name) ...
... was allocated to one particular group of routes. Her home port (her garage, talking bus language) was Gourock and she served a group of communities clustered around Holy Loch and the southern end of Loch Long.

fbb is grateful to an on-line web site that has supplied some of the detail for this blog. Because thee route is always a mix of different destinations, fbb will reprint the appropriate bits of map for each schedule. A reminder that Prices Pier is at Greenock, just off the map bottom right.

Caledonia‘s summer days began early, leaving Kilmun at 7:10 ...
... for Ardnadam, Strone, Blairmore, Cove, Kilcreggan, and Princes Pier, returning to Gourock then direct to Strone, Ardnadam and Kilmun.

The second sailing involved an immediate departure for Ardnadam, Hunter’s Quay, Kirn and Dunoon ... 
... then back to Hunter’s Quay, Blairmore, Cove and Kilcreggan before making for the Renfrewshire shore, calling at Gourock and Princes Pier.

Almost at once, at 10:58, she was on her way again, to Kilcreggan, Cove, Blairmore, Strone, Ardnadam and Kilmun, then, leaving at 12:00 across to Hunter’s Quay, Kirn and Dunoon before sailing direct to Gourock and an opportunity to bunker for the day.

In the afternoon Caledonia sailed from Princes Pier at 2:00, returning from Kilmun at 3:00 in time for the 4:50 express run from Princes Pier to Kilcreggan, Cove and Blairmore, returning direct to Gourock.
An evening Holy Loch run left Gourock just after 6:00 and sailing by Kilcreggan, Cove, Bairmore, Strone, Ardnadam and returning from Kilmun at 7:15. Finally, she returned to Kilmun at 8:35 and berthed overnight.
A busy day offering links between all the communities and the "bigger" towns of Greenock, Gourock and Dunoon. fbb presumes that the crew stayed on the ship overnight at Kilmun.

fbb's interest in this run was prompted by a call by the Waverley at Blairmore.
After a vigorous campaign by the locals this pier was repaired and re-opened, thus offering holidaymakers the opportunity to sail with the Waverley (which calls as part of its standard weekly programme) and other less frequent cruises.

A parallel project was to rebuild the pier keepers cottage, which, back in the day, served as a ticket office. It was "in need of some refurbishment"!!
It is now a well appointed holiday cottage ...
... offering superb and comfortable views across the loch.
In case you wondered about buying tickets nowadays, there are no ticket offices as such. You either buy from agents, on line, or call at the purser's office once on board.
Fraudulent travel is prevented by having your tickets checked as you get off. Pay on exit has been tried on buses in the past.

For the nostalgia, here is Caledonia departing from Blairmore.
Sadly, the other piers in the circuit have fared less well as we shall observe, travelling clockwise round the lochs. Kirn is gone, just leaving a stub of "stuff".
Here is Hunters Quay of old ...
... now the terminus of the Western Ferries car-carrying service.
Ardnadam pier is a gated and unsafe remnant ...
... with no memory of the part it played in the protests when our chums from the USA parked their Polaris submarines nearby.
On the other side of the loch, Kilmun is still there, but again, barred and bolted.
Next comes Strone - also in terminal decay.
Just round the headland is Blairmore, and from there was can sail, in our mind's eye, with the Caledonia across Loch Long ...
... to Cove; where the only sign of its former ferry stop is this bit of rock and an unofficial parking place.
But Kilcreggan still lives ...
... with an hourly passenger ferry to Dunoon. This link was reviewed by fbb in a couple of blogs way back in 2011. Feel free to read them (again?):-

(here) and (here)

One last snippet. Some readers may remember that a vessel called Caledonia was destroyed by fire on the Thames.
This conflagrated Caledonia replaced "our" vessel in 1933.

As part of a mixed bag blog tomorrow, we may well complete the picture with a passing glance at today's bus services to these traditional paddle steamer calling points.

For the time being, the fbbs said farewell to Largs earlier today (a day early due to a slight indisposition of Mrs fbb), saying a very fond farewell to the Waverley as she sailed past the first floor window of their holiday home.
The chugging of the paddles seemed to the fbbs to echo the familiar Scots goodbye ...
They will : they will!

 Next weekend mixture : Saturday 26th August 


  1. Kilsreggan's current service runs to/from Gourock rather than Dunoon

  2. Sorry - 'Kilcreggan'!

  3. Of course it does. Brain faiure. Sory!