On a rather wet and wild October day I and a few other GVVT members set out on a trip to the island of Bute. The trip had been arranged many months before and sods law the weather was fantastic the day before and after our trip! The day out started at 9am and after collecting the packed lunches from a local catering company we set of to Wemyss Bay where we were booked on the 11am ferry departure with my Clydeside Scottish Fleetline HSD 73V. The trip was organised by Tommy Graham who had previously taken his own Fleetline over to the island. When we were discussing the trip I asked Tommy why he was keen to use my Fleetline. It turns out that apart from being a big Fleetline fan, the bus being 9.84m long would be far cheaper on the crossing, over 10m and the price jumps up!
We arrived at Wemyss Bay at around 10.30am and took our place in the queue. The ferry Staff usually prefers to load all the cars first and position large vehicles like HSD last nearer the middle of the ship. The crossing takes around 35 minutes and during the crossing all passengers and drivers must remain in the passenger lounge, the crossing was smooth and shortly before arrival we were requested to return to the bus. I must admit being a bit worried that HSD wouldn't start, and if that was the case, what was plan B. I had visions of a ferry going back and forward with my bus stuck on board!
Once we arrived on the island and collected some more guests, we travelled up the A886 to Rhubodach where the ferry crosses to Colintraive. This is one of the shortest ferry crossings and takes only a few minutes however we planned to stay on the island and parked up to enjoy our packed lunches. Once we got going again we travelled back into Rothesay to visit the West Coast Motors depot. This is a rather interesting depot being a former Tram depot (complete with some rails still in place) and also a former Clydeside Scottish depot. The Staff on duty were most welcoming and appeared to enjoy having a vintage Clydeside bus back at the depot.
We then travelled over to Ettrick Bay on the west of the Island and decided to park up for a coffee and comfort stop. With the rain battering down and strong winds, we thought we would have been the only customers, however inside we found a rather busy little cafe!
Once we got back on the road we travelled the long road back to Rothesay, the A844 stopping for a few photos on route. Next port of call was Kilchattan Bay terminus, where due to the single track road, each bus arriving has to complete a 3 point turn before the return journey! The last leg of the journey was back up to Kingarth and over the hill back to Rothesay. We were making good time till we got stuck behind a herd of cows off to be milked. It certainly made some interesting pictures a vintage bright red and yellow double deck bus slowly moving along a county lane behind a herd of cows!
The return journey was uneventful and our last port of call was Harry Ramsdens back in Glasgow for an enjoyable Fish Tea. We were a bit surprised at the name of the Bar within the restaurant, I guess they were expecting us!
HSD 73V performed great all day. Always a nice vehicle to drive, However John & I found its drive much improved after carrying out a complete service on her a few weeks before our trip. We were also very impressed with how little fuel she used. Filling her up after her 126 mile trip, we were pleased to find she only used 48 litres and if my maths are correct that makes it approx 13mpg!
Overall a fantastic day out, a wee bit less wind and rain and a bit more sun would have been great but can't have everything!