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The 5 Ferry's

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

I had heard about the "5 Ferry's" cycle route a number of years ago. The idea seemed simple enough - Hopping between the Islands of Bute, Arran and the mainland, all within the a day's ferry timetable. What could go wrong?

The Kyle's of Bute (looking south) - Amazing


5 Ferry’s - Road Stage 1

Well... despite going "Full Gas" from Weymss Bay to catch the ferry at Ardrossan I was to be denied passage due to over capacity.... time for a coffee and explore of the town before catching the next one 👍🏻. Tale of the tape, Stage 1:

  • Distance: 30km

  • Climbing: 104m

  • Time taken: 1 hour

  • Matches burned: 2

Map and Profile of Road Stage 1


Ferry from Rothesay (Isle of Bute) to Weymss Bay (Mainland)


"Magnus the Viking" Statue in Largs - complete with COVID Mask


5 Ferry’s - Road Stage 2

A later than planned arrival at Brodick. Lovely cycle round the Bay with great views of Goatfell. The climb up Sannox Braes saw me in the red with steep grades and a headwind to battle. Slid into Lochranza just as ropes were being cast off. No time to visit the distillery sadly! Stage 2 Scorecard:

  • Distance: 25km

  • Climbing: 285m

  • Time Taken: 1 hour

  • Red-ometer: Off the scale!


Map and Profile of Road Stage 2

Departing Brodick (Arran) for Lochranza


Sannox Brae's Climb - more savage than it looks!

Views to Goatfell were amazing

Views from Claonig (Mainland) back to Arran were stunning


5 Ferry’s - Road Stage 3

Short but brutal road between Claonig and Tarbert. Climbing into a savage headwind, but spectacular scenery... Passed and was passed by a couple cycling the 5 Ferry's route. Made pals when both party's were assured of making the next ferry! School Report for Stage 3:

  • Distance: 17km

  • Climbing: 270m

  • Time Taken: 40mins

  • Biking Compadres made: 2

  • Sandwiches eaten: 1




Map and Profile and Road Stage 3


Bike storage at Tarbert whilst waiting on the Ferry


The ferry from Portavadie Arriving at Tarbert


5 Ferry’s Road Stage 4 and 5 .

Again another brutal climb out of Tignabruaich but what a view down the Kyles of Bute. This view has to be right up there and worth all the hard effort throughout the day. The descent into Colintriave with a broken spoke was nervy but fun. Returned to my start point of Rothesay Ferry Terminal via Port Bannatyne. Might have stopped for a cheeky Mars Bar and packet of S&V's before issuing an "all safe broadcast" to the family. Stages 4 and 5 in a nutshell:

  • Distance: 45km

  • Climbing: 624m

  • Time Taken: 2 hours

  • Lives used up: 2 ("undiscovered" broken spoke on descent could've cost me dear!)

Map and Profile of Road Stages 4 and 5

With a 117Km of distance, 1283m of climbing the 5 Ferry's is a challenging but fun day out. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys coastal scenery. For me there was a certain amount of fun in trying to make the "Ferry Cut Off". For those who want to take it a bit easier, there is plenty to enjoy on Bute, Arran and the spots on the mainland that I passed through. It can be attempted in both directions and I started on Bute because I was staying there to begin with.


Getting there: https://www.thetrainline.com/ will give you a good steer on trains between Glasgow Central and Weymss Bay.


Ferry's : https://www.calmac.co.uk/ for day and explorer tickets.




Again it pays to check these sites and be aware of government guidance on COVID before making the journey.


Enjoy, Steven

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5 Comments


Will be in Scotland in July/August this year and looking to do some riding - anyone up to do the Five Ferries/Islands with me - I ride app 100 km each week here in Sydney australia

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Donald Munro
Donald Munro
Oct 07, 2021

Sounds like a great trip, with plenty to keep you focused! Would love to do this.

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steven strathie
steven strathie
Oct 11, 2021
Replying to

With the response we've seen from the various chat groups, I think we've enough interest to make this happen in Summer 2022 😀

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Vinny Goss
Vinny Goss
Jul 07, 2021

Sounds like you had a great time and a few sessions in the red?

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steven strathie
steven strathie
Jul 07, 2021
Replying to

Yeah Vinny, a great ride which I’d encourage everyone to do once. Sessions in the red led to session with the red 🍷 immediately after! 🤣

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