Colintraive’s Heritage Booklet

The Colintraive Ferry

Caol an t-Snaimh – ‘the narrows of swimming

The name Colintraive is thought to be derived from Caol an t-Snaimh – ‘the narrows of swimming’. A natural crossing point, it was used by drovers moving cattle from Cowal and Bute to lowland markets.

The first recorded mention of a ferry across the Kyle at Colintraive is in 1685. When James Boill who was in Ardentraive, and described as ”ferryor in Caillintraive” lost his herring nets and his boat. The soldiers of the Duke of Argyll may have destroyed these whilst crossing to his castle on Eilean Dearg. (See Maclagan, I. 1997 p.22 for further information)

Couston to Loch Striven Ferry

A ferry at Couston across Loch Striven to Inverchaolain was mentioned about one hundred years later in 1782. Archibald Lamond agreed to build a heather thatched ferryman’s house, sixteen feet by thirty feet, all for £5.5s. The ferry continued until the mid 1850’s when the parish church for Colintraive was still at Inverchaolain. (Source unknown)

Figure 24: -Passengers on a Local Boat
(Source:-donor at Colintraive Heritage Centre)

The New Road

In 1804, John Campbell, laird of South Hall was one of the promoters of a new road from Loch Fyne through Glendaruel to the “Ferry of Cuilintrive” this was “to the great advantage of the numerous fishermen, as well as other inhabitants of these place

Source: – MacLagan, I. (1997, p.23)

When completed this road also increased ferry traffic across to Bute.

The Arrival of a Vehicle Ferry

A proposal for a vehicle ferry was made in 1929 and again in 1938. However, the war intervened, and the project was dropped.

On 1st July 1950, the Bute Ferry Company, owned by Bute Estates, trialled the first 4 car ferry service from Colintraive to Rhubodach. The service opened on the 13th of July. It was a bow loading ex-military landing craft. It replaced the motorboat, skippered by Archie Clark, who became the car ferry skipper. He also held the contract to take the mail between Bute, Colintraive and Tighnabruich. 

Figure 25: -Archie Clark, Ferryman:- (Source:-donor at Colintraive
Heritage Centre)
Figure 26: -The First Colintraive Vehicular Ferry:-
(Source: donor at Colintraive
Heritage Centre)
Figure 27: – Eilean Fraioch 1 1957-1963 (Source:-donor at Colintraive Heritage Centre)

The Ferry in Recent Times

In 1969 the Caledonian Steam Packet Company took over the service. from the Bute Ferry Company building new slipways. Shore lighting meant after dark crossings could run, and new ferries allowed the carrying of 10 cars and 60 passengers.

The main road to Colintraive was single track until 1981 with the completion of the ‘new’ road. Ferry traffic has continued to increase, and the present ferry, Loch Dunvegan can take 36 cars and 200 passengers. New slipways were built in 2018

Figure 28: – Loch Dunvegan:-
(Source:-donor at Colintraive Heritage Centre)