Crossing Time: 5 minutes
Last Ship: Eilean Bheàrnaraigh
Otternish - Berneray
North Uist - Berneray
1982 - 1996: Eilean Bheàrnaraigh
1996 - 1998: Eilean Bheàrnaraigh / Loch Bhrusda
Otternish: Slipway and berthing structure, adjacent small marshalling area
Berneray: The ferry berths here when not in service. Loading is by concrete slipway, suitable at all states of the tide. There's an adequate waiting area for vehicles and passengers.
The service between Otternish and Berneray was the logical link between North Uist and Berneray. A passenger boat had operated for generations and it wasn't until 1982 that a vehicle ferry, Eilean Bheàrnaraigh, was placed on the route by the Western Isles Council. From 1988 a 6 day a week timetable offered up to 7 crossings daily with fares at £2 for a car and 50p for a passenger.
With the introduction of a vehicle service across the Sound of Harris in 1996, the much larger Loch Bhrusda entered service between Berneray and Leverburgh on Harris. From the 8th June Eilean Bheàrnaraigh operated under charter, offering between 8 and 12 crossings for Calmac between North Uist and Berneray. Loch Bhrusda extended some of her sailings to Uist aswell, meaning there was no need to change vessel for through traffic to and from Harris. Whilst under charter to Calmac Eilean Bheàrnaraigh flew the houseflag from her mast and hung a banner from her port side. During the winter, the Sound of Harris timetable had enough space within it for Loch Bhrusda to operate both services alone.
The 1997 summer timetable was a bit different and Eilean Bheàrnaraigh operated all the Berneray sailings whilst Loch Bhrusda concentrated on Hsrris.
Work on a 0.9 km causeway linking North Uist and Berneray commenced in October 1997 and the causeway was unofficially opened at the end of 1998 when the ferry made her last crossing on December 17th from Berneray at 11am and Otternish at 1115. The official opening of the new causeway was on April 8th 1999 when Prince Charles flew in by helicopter for the ceremony. The opening of the causeway meant that from then on the Sound of Harris ferry only sailed between Berneray and Leverburgh, although the Otternish slip is still used for lay ups overnight and between sailings. Eilean Bheàrnaraigh moved south to Eriskay sailing to Ludag on South Uist to relieve the Eilean Na H-Oige. She then became the spare vessel for the Western Isles council until sold in 2002 to Orkney. She now trades for Bere Island ferries in Southern Ireland alongside her former Western Isles Council fleetmate.
We are unsure about the source of this image but due to it's historical value have used it here. If this image belongs to you and you would like us to remove it, please get in touch. Thanks, SoC Crew.