Western Isles Cruises Ltd has operated the ferry service to Inverie & Tarbet in Loch Nevis for the past 60 years.
The ferry service is a lifeline to the remote community of Inverie, home to ‘The Remotest Pub on Mainland Britain’, The Old Forge.
This small community of approximately 120 residents are wholly reliant on the ferry service for all there food, post, medicine, and freight.
Inverie has no road access, only a two – three day walk over the mountains. So the ferry service is their only connection to any supplies, and given the current COVID-19 crisis the service has never been more important.
Throughout Lockdown our normal service of four sailings a day, seven days a week had been reduced to just one sailing on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. We also carried out additional crossings for essential appointments with doctors & dentists. The Knoydart Community was essentially cut off with no passengers in or out.
Since Lockdown was lifted we’re now operating our normal sailing schedule, but with dramatically reduced capacities to allow for social distancing.
The freight is loaded at Mallaig from The Royal Mail, all the delivery drivers, prescriptions from the local pharmacy, fresh bread from the bakery and shopping bags – AKA ‘The Messages’ from the Co-op.
We then set sail from Mallaig at 12:00 arriving in Inverie at 12:30.
The pier has drop-off bins and a container plus many local residents keenly waiting on the arrival of their supplies.
In normal times they would create a human chain to help unload the boat up the steps and onto the pier but in this new world we are currently living in they cannot.
So the skipper and crew unload the boat whilst the locals look on at a distance. We don’t need Joe Wicks as the workout is intense especially at low tide! The crew have never been so slim.
Once all the goods are unloaded we depart with an empty boat back to Mallaig and leave the locals to individually collect their items whilst observing the social distancing now in place.
We can only hope that this is all over soon and we can once again take day-trippers and holidaymakers back to this remote community.
The much looked forward to New Hall Opening has been put on hold but there will be one hell of a hooley and a wee dram or two when it does!