Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Sunday ferry to Lewis 'popular' says CalMac

Calmac ferry
CalMac launched the ferry service in July last year

More than 10,000 passengers have used a controversial Sunday ferry service from Stornoway on Lewis to mainland Scotland in its first six months.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne said the service, launched in July, had also carried 3,000 cars.

There was strong opposition to the Sunday ferry on Lewis, where the Sabbath day has traditionally been strictly observed.

CalMac said the Sunday service was "popular" with ferry travellers.

It said there was "clearly a strong demand for the service".

The service runs from Stornoway to Ullapool.

Fault repaired

When it launched last July, a small group of protesters prayed and sang a psalm as cars boarded the boat, but several hundred people clapped.

Protesters also held up a banner that read: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy".

The crossing was undertaken by the route's usual ferry, the MV Isle of Lewis, after a fault in the exhaust threatened to end its role in the first Sunday sailing. However, the fault repaired in time.

Sunday sailings have allowed organisers of the Western Isles' largest music festival to change the event's main day of headliners to Saturday for the first time.

Previously held its biggest nights of the Hebridean Celtic Festival were Thursday and Friday because of the number of revellers from the mainland leaving on Saturday to get back home.

Sunday sailings were launched in the week of the festival last summer, but too late for the organisers to change the programme of events.

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