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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: will give you a good steer on trains between Glasgow Central and Weymss Bay.

Ferry's : 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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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


Donald Munro
Donald Munro
Oct 07, 2021

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

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 😀


Vinny Goss
Vinny Goss
Jul 07, 2021

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

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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