Rendezvous with a Ferry in Ullapool

The next morning we made our way to Ullapool, to pick up the ferry out to Stornoway…


Status: Highland Unitary Authority,  Town, Scotland

Date: 15/03/2016

Travel: Car, Ferry (Ullapool – Stornoway)

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Sir John Fowler Memorial Clock Tower, Loch Broom, Loch Droma, Harbour, Ferry Terminal, Caledonian Hotel etc

The route to Ullapool along the A835 provides plenty of opportunities for you stop and admire the scenery. If you haven’t been this way before and you have a ferry to catch, I would recommend that you leave a little earlier to allow for the scenery!

Our first stop was on the shores of Loch Droma, a small Loch with a commanding view out across the surrounding mountains.

We had had an early start, so the morning mist was still hanging low across the surface.

The Loch is drained by the River Droma at the Western End…

… which then empties out into Loch Broom, about ten miles away. This vast body of water stretches all the way to Ullapool itself, with a total length of around ten miles.

We kept following the Loch, stopping occasionally to admire the ever present mountains on the horizon.

Eventually, the town of Ullapool loomed in the distance, a charming little place in an idyllic setting.

We had a bit of time before our ferry left, so we parked up in the large free carpark in the town centre, and set out to explore.

On Argyll Street, we came across the “Sir John Fowler Memorial Clock”, erected in 1922. It pays tribute to Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet (1817 – 1898, English Civil Engineer from Sheffield). He was a prominent designer, responsible for the Metropolitan Railway in London which was a precursor to the London Underground, as well as the Forth Railway Bridge.

The Clock also remembers Sir John’s son, Captain Sir John Edward Fowler, killed in action during World War I in 1915.

The Clock sits adjacent to the “Caledonian Hotel”, shown left. It has the distinction of being the oldest hotel in Ullapool. Large settlements are few and far between on this side of the Highlands, making Ullapool the perfect base to explore the surrounding area.

The waters of Loch Broom lap against the shore here, and much of the design work for the harbour was the work of Thomas Telford in 1788. Ullapool has historically been a fishing town, originally starting with Herring.

Various mountains can be seen from Ullapool, and on a sunny day you can see for miles in each direction. The Highlands are a magical place, and so far we weren’t disappointed.

Starting in the 1970’s, the Harbour became home to a regular fleet of “Klondykers”, Mackerel Processing Ships from countries in the Eastern Bloc such as Russia, East Germany and Poland. It was a major boom of the economy, which sadly disappeared in the 1990’s with the collapse of the USSR.

The main Harbour was extended by 33 metres in 2014 to accommodate a brand new Ferry to run the service to Stornoway, the MV Loch Seaforth.

There are daily sailings out to Stornoway from the Ferry Terminal, which can take both foot passengers, and vehicles. Journey times average around 2 hours 30 minutes.

Inside the Ferry Terminal is the “Rhue Light”, the original Lense from the Rhue Lighthouse. The Light was established in 1952, and stands at the edge of Loch Broom where it becomes the Minch, the area of sea between the mainland and Lewis & Harris where Stornoway is located.

The light was always unmanned, and a clock in the building turned the light on and off at the appropriate time. A new light was installed in 2002, and works off Solar Power.

Half an hour later, the aforementioned MV Loch Seaforth arrived, and we boarded, ready for our journey out to Stornoway…


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