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West Otter Ferry

Building(S) (Period Unassigned), House (Period Unassigned), Pier (Period Unassigned)

Site Name West Otter Ferry

Classification Building(S) (Period Unassigned), House (Period Unassigned), Pier (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 88548

Site Number NR98NW 17

NGR NR 9175 8674

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilmichael Glassary
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR98NW 17 9175 8674

House and pier. Full details are available in the Strathclyde Sites and Monuments Record (reported by Forest Enterprise).

SRC SMR 1994a.

Two roofed, four unroofed buildings and two enclosures are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire 1873, sheet clxxi). Five unroofed buildings are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1980).

Information from RCAHMS (AKK), 18 May 1999.


Publication Account (2009)

The website text produced for West Otter Ferry webpages on the Forest Heritage Scotland website (

Introduction: A Fyne crossing point

West Otter Ferry was not named after a cute furry animal. Its name, however, does provide a clue to the site's use. West Otter Ferry was the western side of an ancient ferry crossing Loch Fyne from Cowal to Argyll.

The name comes from the Gaelic word "oitir". This refers to the sandbank on the eastern shores of the ferry crossing. Extending for a mile into the waters of Loch Fyne, you can now see it marked with a beacon as a warning to todays' sailors.

For over two hundred years, this ferry transported people, horses and even cattle across the water. Today the ruins of the quays, from where the boats would set out, survive on both sides of the loch. Across the water, the village of Otter Ferry grew up around the eastern side of the ferry service. On the western side you can visit the ruins of an old house; the home of the ferryman.

People Story: On the water

In 1769 James Campbell of Otter was instructed to improve the ferry service across Loch Fyne by the Commissioners of Supply.

Commissioners of Supply were established for every Scottish county in 1667. They usually consisted of wealthy landowners who ensured that people paid taxes to the Scottish king. After the Act of Union in 1707, they became responsible for the maintenance of country roads and bridges.

Good transportation routes were vital. Drove routes brought cattle from the Highlands to England to be sold.

Lochs were not obstacles to go round, but part of these routes. There were many ferries all over Scotland. Today, the West and North of Scotland still rely on ferries for people to get around.

In 1773, James reported to the Commissioners that the quay at East Otter was complete. The ferry then ran for almost two hundred years; it made its last crossing in 1948.

In the 19th century, steamships were commonly used in Scotland to transport goods and as leisure vehicles. You could often see them sailing on Loch Fyne.

On 22nd September 1898 the "Mary and Flora", captained by Mackellar of Carrick, left the pier at West Otter Ferry and set sail on a fishing trip into the loch. Tragedy struck when it collided with the steam ship "Tartar of Glasgow" killing one of its crew.


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