Life at the end of the road

April 2, 2008

Back to Kishorn

Filed under: harbour, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:52 pm

It was with more than a little excitement that I set off down ‘Calum’s road’ today, the weather was good, I was picking up the Dude and we were going to the old ‘Howard Doris’ yard at Kishorn. The Dude had been at my parents for a few days and I was missing him but today we were going to see where the blocks for the new Raasay harbour were being cast. I’d spent the best part of a summer there in 1986 or 87 as the place was being wound up and stuff being auctioned off. My employer at the time had bought 3 large corrugated iron sheds (2 of them the size of aircraft hangers) and I was involved in the dismantling and moving of them. When I was there the place still had a couple of oil rigs berthed there and there was still some fabrication work being done but nothing like when it was in it’s heyday and they built the ‘Ninian Central’ concrete platform there. The site was chosen for it’s very deep water close to the shore and whilst remote by most peoples standards it was still relitively accsessable by road, rail, sea and air. It really was a site to behold under the massive mountains of the Applecross peninsula.

Even before I reached the ferry I’d been treated to a group of hinds just at the side of the road past Brochel ( of which I have a lovely photo that won’t load ) and this buzzard perched on a fence post at Inver.

buzzard @ inver

Caught the 9:00am ferry and met the Dude on the way and we had a pleasant drive up the side of Loch Carron and over the hills to Loch Kishorn, all familiar roads from my fish farm diving days but routes I’ve not traveled in years.


Looking west towards the site, you can just make out the masts of yachts at ‘Kishorn mechanical services’ which is at the eastern end of the old site.

dry dock

This is the truly massive dry dock which was hewn out of the rock, the concrete wall splits in two and could be pumped dry of ballast and floated out of the way. The white buildings and the red ship are ‘Ferguson transports’ and that’s pretty much at the eastern end of the site, the dry dock is probably about half way down the site.

dry dock2

On the dry dock gate looking north, when I was last here there were buildings, lighting towers, cranes and vehicles everywhere. There was something like an airport control tower somewhere near here, all glass and radio aerials if I recall correctly.


Looking west over ‘Leiths’ site ( the quarry owners ) towards ‘Balfour Beatty’s’ site (the blue cabins) which is pretty much at the western end of the old fabrication yard.

casting beds

These are the ‘casting beds’ upon which the moulds will sit when the concrete is poured ( i think)


The blue and grey things are the clamps for the shuttering ( I think )


This is a load of shuttering ( I think )

All in all it was a very enjoyable and informative couple of hours. A big thank you to Iain Macphearson of Balfour Beatty for arranging my visit to Dave Meechan for taking the time to explain everything even if I got it wrong it all made perfect sense at the time and if I’ve spelt your name wrong Dave I’m sorry ( I’ll edit it later ) and last but not least a big thanks to ‘Tarzan’ of Leiths for Escorting us I’m sure you had better things to do and thanks for letting the Dude have a look at your ‘wee shovel’

wee shovel


What struck me about today was how quickly nature recovers, if you’d been here 20 years ago you wouldn’t have believed how quickly mans puny efforts had been swallowed up. Me I love wildlife and nature and all things natural, that’s why I live where I do. I’m sure there must have been objections to opening a quarry here, but it strikes me that the land needs a little less love and a lot more use. I’ve seen more otters, golden eagles, bats and sea eagles than most people and can assure you they aren’t stupid and won’t fly into a wind turbine or get squashed by a digger and as my mate ‘Tarzan’ said “have you ever seen a quarry with a view like this” 20 years after the last stone has been taken you won’t even know where it’s been and what’s 20 years? ‘a blink in the eye of god’ as some wise sage said!

A couple of  great film clips here in the Scottish film archive

Many thanks to Chris Humphrey for turning up these gems

Kishorn Commandos

Kenny Millar

and to Kenny Millar for forwarding these.


Rising from the ashes 21/1/2019


The ‘Ocean Great White’

The greatest excitement of the week, if not decade was the arrival in Loch Kishorn of one the worlds largest semi submersible drilling rigs, The Ocean Great White. Having taken five months to make the journey from Singapore she’s stopping off at Kishorn to be made ready for a contract west of Shetland.

Lifted from

Ocean GreatWhite

Owned by Diamond Offshore, the Ocean GreatWhite weighs in at 60,800 tonnes and is a 6th generation harsh environment drilling rig capable of drilling down to 10,000m in 3,000m of water. With a draft of over 23 meters, the rig needs deep water for anchoring.

The Ocean GreatWhite has made its way from Singapore, via Las Palmas in the Canaries over the last five months assisted by the Alp Defender, a large ocean-going offshore supply vessel weighing in at 5600t. The rig is scheduled to start a drilling contract in the North Sea early in 2019.

Namely, as previously reported, the Ocean GreatWhite was awarded a contract by Siccar Point. The contract, for three firm wells plus three option wells, is scheduled to start in early March and end in mid-July 2019.

According to information from VesselsValue, the rig is currently located in the North Atlantic, west of Ireland and it is scheduled to arrive at Loch Kishorn on December 29, 2018.

During its station at Kishorn, the rig will be made ready for its drilling program, with Ferguson Transport and Shipping providing marine agency and stevedoring support, KPL said.

Alasdair Ferguson, a Director of KPL, recently visited the rig in Las Palmas and commented: “I couldn’t fail to be impressed by the sheer scale of the Ocean GreatWhite. We hope that the berthing and support to the rig at Kishorn will herald a new era of engagement in the oil and gas industry at Kishorn.”

New contract to revive Kishorn

Kishorn Port Ltd (KPL), a joint venture between Leiths (Scotland) Ltd and Ferguson Transport and Shipping, was created in 2008 to promote the regeneration of the Kishorn Yard and dry dock as a major facility for the manufacturing of renewable energy components, decommissioning and support to the North Sea oil and gas sector.

The Yard and the dry dock were very busy in the early years of the North Sea oil and gas boom, employing over 3,000 people and generating a huge contribution to the local Highlands economy. In the 1970s, the yard was used for the construction of the Ninian Central oil production platform. The platform was towed out of Loch Kishorn in May 1978.

Howard Doris, the yard operators finally succumbed to insolvency in 1988 and the yard lay largely dormant until 1992, when the dry dock was resurrected to enable the casting of the two 2,500 tonne concrete caissons that support the Skye Bridge.

KPL secured a comprehensive Masterplan permission in 2013 and has been promoting the yard and its dry dock for use by the renewables and oil and gas sectors for the last five years following significant investments in site infrastructure.

Simon Russell, Director, added: “After many years of working on the Kishorn project, this is a great step towards its future regeneration and the creation of local jobs and opportunities.”

This will be KPL’s first big contract and lets hope it’s the first of many, they’ve put a lot of effort and money into reviving Kishorn and it would be good to see some ‘Commando’s’ back there Smile

Kishorn Port and Dry Dock is the former construction site of the Ninian Central Platform, the site has 45 Hectares of land available (including the dry dock) for immediate construction and development with a further 19 Hectares available.

The dry dock there is truly immense

Kishorn Port and Dry Dock is the former construction site of the Ninian Central Platform, the site has 45 Hectares of land available (including the dry dock) for immediate construction and development with a further 19 Hectares available.

it would have to be, they built the worlds largest man made moveable structure there in the 1970’s a truly incredible lump of concrete Smile

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