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Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company


The Isle of Skye Ferry runs from the traditional crossing from the Mainland in Scotland at Glenelg to Kylerhea in the Isle of Skye. The organisation is run by the community and this came to fruition when the owner of the ferry decided to sell, and offered it to the community before putting it on the open market.


Studies were conducted as to the worth of the business and the vessel and consequently the community needed £150,000 to make the venture work. In January 2005 a new Scottish government ‘Initiative at the Edge’ identified remote communities who were at risk of social and cultural collapse – Glenelg was identified as such a community, and this status allowed for any projects they applied for to be fast tracked. In February 2005 a vote was held as to whether the community should purchase the ferry, however, the community in Glenelg voted against the proposal.


Due to the rejection of the proposal the community of Kylerhea in Skye took the initiative and formed a community interest company based on a wider community of interest. This, however, caused problems as the Highland Council withdrew their support due to the split in the community but the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) continued to support the venture stating that ‘without the ferry it would be like applying a social, economic and cultural tourniquet ‘.


In 2007 the CIC were awarded money from the lottery, which was matched by HIE, and the enterprise managed to secure a loan from the Highland Opportunity (Communities) Limited which enabled them to purchase the ferry.


What does the organisation do?

The Social Enterprise runs a ferry between Glenelg in the mainland and Kylerhea in the Isle of Skye.

The ferry has two distinct purposes:

  • It has become a life line for smaller communities and allows for improved access of services such as, fire brigade, ambulance, and for the council to maintain the roads. The organisation aims to have a free travel policy for pensioners (currently they pay £1 per journey) and locals are able to purchase half price ticket books.
  • Has become part of Heritage tourism, and is the last working example of a turn table ferry which was common until the 1970s. This provides a ‘national treasure’ and the opportunity to provide individuals with a unique experience. Furthermore, the ferry keeps the original route to Skye functioning, which has played an important part in Scotland’s history.

How many people has the Skye Ferry created employment for?

The ferry is operated seasonally – for seven months a year.

The Ferry employs:

  • One salaried Skipper/ Mechanic who works all year
  • Another Skipper who works for the season
  • Part time Payroll Clark
  • Part time administrator
  • 2 further ‘Rope’ employees who work for the season

How has the Ferry achieved sustainability?

“Through blood, sweat and tears!”

The Ferry was run by a volunteer board, whose members had a host of business skills, motivation and time to promote the business and to bring it forwards. Furthermore, they had a strong realistic business plan and have put in place structured policies and procedures.


What have been the Ferry’s biggest achievements?

The organisation has built a strong relationship with the key regulators – the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. These regulators have the power to ground the vessel if they are not satisfied.

Furthermore, the Ferry has employed enthusiastic individuals and ensured they are fully trained. The organisation takes pride in the fact that they have transparent accounts.


What have been the biggest challenges to the organisation?

The Social Enterprise has found introducing modern, coherent working practices that fully encompass Health and Safety regulations as well as HM Customs and Revenue regulations to be rather challenging. Furthermore, the Ferry has managed to ensure that their environmental policy has been strictly followed.


What are the future plans for the Ferry?

  • Aiming to go from a turn over in 2006 of £69,000 to around £200,000 in 2012. his season 2009 the turnover will be around £130,000
  • The Ferry aim to grow through increasing their sale of merchandise, currently they have a range of goods such as: T-shirts, mugs, baseball caps and cartstickers (also sold online
  • The organisation also desires to develop the facilities at the ferry and may embark on a building project in the future.

The Ferry runs from Easter until October. For more information on the Isle of Skye Ferry head to


See HISEZ August newsletter

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Company Registration No. 278156. Scottish Charity No. SC 029210