In Sheetlines 112 we invited members to compile a list of ferry services operating in and around the waters of the British Isles. We proposed four categories: 1. car ferries crossing river estuaries or serving nearby off-shore islands 2. those serving more distant islands and other countries 3. any British car ferries, not included above 4. passenger-only ferries
Michael Spencer compiled this impressive table , listing 249 services, geographically clockwise round the coasts of UK and Ireland, each categorised as above. He comments: ‘There is some problem in deciding between groups 1 and 2, but I have taken journeys over two hours and all Continental traffic as group 2. I consider le Shuttle, which uses the railway through the Channel Tunnel, as a ferry, because it takes cars between ports at either side of a stretch of water. I don’t suppose the cars mind whether they’re on a boat or a train, so long as they don’t get their tyres wet. No other railway link acts in this ferry-like way.’ Michael correctly identifies the group 3 ferry we had in mind, the only car ferry not included in groups 1 and 2, as the Windermere chain ferry (Bowness-Far Sawry), although that is, at the time of writing, out of action for repairs
Stuart Hicks offered a list , which included many of those named above, but also Bideford and Ilfracombe (occasionally Barnstaple) to Lundy Island. He also answered the additional question: which ferry carries a regular bus service? the answer being the Sandbanks-Swanage chain ferry (Michael’s number 75).
Chris Harvey’s list also included the Lundy services, as well as other additions to Michael’s list, such as: Nigg-Cromarty, Anstruther-North Berwick, Warkworth Castle-Hermitage, Kings Lynn-West Lynn, Hecklingham-Reedham (chain ferry), Lowestoft S Pier-Oulton Broad, Burgh St Peter-Carlton Marshes, Walberswick-Southwold, Butley-Orford, Felixstowe Ferry-Bawdsey Ferry, Brightlingsea-Point Clear, Brightlingsea-East Mersea, Burnham-on-Sea-Wallasea Island, Woolwich-Putney etc (Thames Clippers), Marble Hill House-Ham House (Hammertons Ferry), Hampton-Hurst Park, Mudeford Quay-Mudeford Sandbank, Bigbury on Sea-Burgh Island (tractor), Appledore–Instow, Bristol City Centre-Hotwells-Temple Meads, Symonds Yat-Saracens Head Inn and Symonds Yat-Olde Ferrie Inn (both hand-pulled cable ferries), Tenby–Caldey Island, St Martin’s Haven- Skomer, Barmouth-Barmouth Ferry, Pwllheli-Bardsey Island.
Tony Walduck created four separate lists with an impressive total of over 400 services:
Tony identified not one but two inland car ferries, the Windermere chain ferry and the Reedham Chain Ferry (TG 407015), still operating on a daily basis across the River Yare, which though technically tidal, is at a location which is well over 10 miles away from the sea, and can in no way be described as estuarine.
Tony adds : Finally, as with most things, if you want to get somewhere by water, there is generally a man with a boat who would be willing to take you there (and back) for a price. Not exactly a ferry service, but something that for the locals provides much the same thing. I’m sure that movement around the Scilly Isles depends on many local entrepreneurs like this. Then I consider how one could get to St.Kilda or Foula (to take extreme examples) or to Holm of Papa Westray, Taransay (Harris), Staffa, or the Summer Isles, as less extreme instances. Less accessible offshore islands tend to have potential ferrymen informally advertised locally (e.g. in the pub, or post office). The more remote islands would require much more sturdy craft, and access might have to be negotiated with either the Army, Trinity House (lighthouses), National Trust for Scotland, or whatever Wildlife Conservation body. Whether these sailings constitute an actual ferry service is a debatable point. (I think we can safely say that no bus services would be involved!)
The editor can only add the Lamlash (Arran) to Holy Isle ferry, (the island is named ‘Holy Island’ on OS maps, but is known as Holy Isle), and the seasonal Hulmes ferry (not marked on OS) crossing the Manchester Ship Canal near Irlam.
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