Arran Banner letters – week 07

Neil's drawing of the multi-bridge system which includes Arran.

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Ferries and the future


Keen readers of the huge volume of Clyde steamer lore will have noticed how many examples there were of ships lasting safely into a ripe old age well beyond the assumed lifespan of the present CalMac fleet.

The Waverley, admittedly much smaller than the Caley Isles, is now 70 years old and its refit has taken a matter of months. In view of current circumstances, only two ships being built and years late, is it not time for CMAL to make an assessment of what sort of renovation is required to give the the present fleet a safe, extended life of at least 20 years. This could well be cheaper, quicker and result in improved reliability, with that taking precedence over modernity and updated comfort.


John Inglis,

High Corrie.

Pentland lessons

Further to my earlier letter, once again I’ve been following Pentland Ferries MV Alfred as it has managed to cross the Pentland Firth multiple times during Storm Ciara.

The Caledonian Isles has the excuse that it’s engine has broken down but it’s doubtful if she would have made the crossing during Ciara anyway.

Meanwhile Pentland Ferries smaller boat, Pentalina, is tied up in Stromness. Why I do not know,  but if she were available perhaps CalMac could charter her to provide at least some sort of life line back up. Because it seems that both these Pentland Ferries boats have better seagoing qualities that only a few, if any,  of the CalMac ships can match.

I believe both Alfred and Pentalina might have to operate to Troon but at least the new pier at Brodick should be able to take them. Perhaps we should cancel the Glen Sannox and Hull 802 and buy two new boats from the Philippines; at least until CMAL can get their act together.


Eric Gilmour,


Multi-culture celebrated


Arran is an island rich in its own heritage and traditions but there are many people living here whose origins are from further afield.

As part of this year’s McLellan Arts Festival we are planning to have an event to celebrate all the different cultures represented on Arran through an evening of music, stories and food. We would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in sharing a song, a dance, a story, a poem, a tune during the evening. It would be wonderful to have as many of the different cultures represented as we can. We are also hoping everyone will bring a traditional snack to share to make this a feast for all the senses.

The McLellan Festival 2020 runs from Thursday August 27 to Saturday September 12. We are still finalising the programme but expect the Multi-Cultural Evening to be either Monday August 31 or Tuesday September 1.

In addition we are seeking some readers to help with our event celebrating the life and work of Scottish writer and poet, Nan Shepherd. This event will take place on Wednesday September 2.

If you would like to be a part of either evening or find out more then please contact me, Sarah Cook via email

Or through our website


Sarah Cook,

Whiting Bay.

Bridge too far


With Boris Johnston’s idea of a bridge between Scotland and Ireland being in the news, I write to your beautiful island to explain how the forward thinking and dynamic business community of Arran can be part of this massive infrastructure project.

The plan mentioned in the mainstream media is for a bridge from near Bangor to Portpatrick, but a cursory glance at the map shows that the shortest crossing is between Torr and the Mull of Kintyre. This shorter option has been dismissed as the Kintyre peninsula has poor transport links.

This is where there is a fantastic opportunity for Arran. Build the bridge to Kintyre, a few miles of road to Carradale, then another bridge over to Balliekine, a tunnel under Goatfell, then a third majestic span from Corrie to West Kilbride.

As well as the many construction jobs, there would be long term gains to the economy servicing the needs of truck drivers and tourists. The tunnel under Goatfell could have an elevator in an vertical air shaft to the summit, making the dream of a Michelin starred restaurant with views to seven islands a reality.

The tunnel will also reveal the fascinating geology of the extinct volcano, drawing even more students to the island. The rock removed would be used to make the island bigger, or fill in an unnecessary valley or two.

My plan has three times as many bridges as Boris’s, therefore I am three times as good and clever.


Neil McDonald,



Neil’s drawing of the multi-bridge system which includes Arran. NO_B07bridges01