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Gills Harbour Ltd

Photograph of Gills Harbour LtdWhy choose Gills Harbour?

  • Closest mainland port to Pentland tidal stream
  • Conveniently sheltered between two of the Pentland Firths major tide-races
  • Excellent year round access
  • Community owned
  • Safe, natural harbour
  • Pentland Ferries mainland terminal
  • Harbour development land
  • 18 miles from Wick Airport

    About Gills Harbour
    While Scrabster to Stromness is the longest continuously used ferry route to Orkney, started in 1856, historically the Gills Bay area has been the main setting off point from the mainland to the islands of Stroma and Swona and Orkney itself. This route, known as The Short Sea Crossing, is generally considered to be both the quickest and safest across the waters of the Pentland Firth. At present Pentland Ferries operate a year round service on this route to St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay.

    The first pier was constructed in 1905 with the harbour some time later. In the 1980s Orkney Island Council decided to re-introduce the short sea crossing from Gills Bay to Burwick on South Ronaldsay. Tens of millions of pounds were spent on a new ferry and building a terminal and linkspan at Gills Bay together with similar facilities at Burwick. The service started on the 15 August 1989, sailing to Houton near Orphir as dredging still had to be done at Burwick, and ended on the 16 September 1989 when the linkspan at Gills was damaged by heavy weather.

    It was then realised that it would be impossible to run a regular service as planned due to the weather conditions and the operation was closed down, the ferry being laid-up for a while before being utilised by Orkney Ferries for inter-island work. Recently Burwick has been used by the passenger-only ferry which operates from John o' Groats during the summer.

    In the late 1990s Andrew Banks, an Orkney entrepreneur and founder of Pentland Ferries saw the potential of re-introducing the short sea crossing and attempted to get the use of the terminal. It was only after he had threatened to build his own a short distance away that the council relented and he obtained a 99-year lease on the site. With a handful of local workers and some second hand construction machinery he spent two years, living in a caravan on site, making the terminal better able to withstand the swell and weather conditions experienced. This involved the construction of a pier, incorporating the Dolphins (freestanding structures a vessel lies against) constructed by the previous operators, together with some dredging work.

    By the summer of 2001 Pentland Ferries were ready to start regular sailings with their vessel the MV Pentalina-B to St Margaret's Hope. It was soon realised that even with these improvements there would still be problems and that a much longer pier would be needed. Fortunately an old floating dock was available for disposal at Lerwick. This was purchased, towed to St Margaret's Hope, where it was cleaned of all contaminants and then towed to Gills Bay where it was sunk to form a continuation of the pier thus greatly increasing its length. Old oil transfer hoses from the Scapa Flow oil terminal were used as fenders for the ferry while rock armour was dumped on the seaward side for protection against the waves. The tanks have been filled with concrete and the dock itself filled with the spoil from dredging to make more room for the ferry to manoeuvre. By the time all this work is finished the dock will be incorporated into the pier.

    At present it is designated as a wreck and exhibits two green lights at its seaward end, rather than a pier which shows two red lights. As all this work is funded by the ferry company at present (2006), work continues slowly as finances permit. It is planned to continue dredging to make sufficient room for a ferry to turn round if need be and then possibly extend the pier again at an angle at the seaward end to stop the swell which is sometimes too great for work at the linkspan.
    From Wikipedia.

    Postal Address
    Gills Harbour Ltd
    Gills Bay
    KW1 4YB

    News for Gills Harbour Ltd

    Three Cats At Gills HarbourThumbnail for article : Three Cats At Gills Harbour
    Two catamaran work-boats berthed at Gills Harbour this week with the trans-Pentlnd ferry MV Alfred, also a catamaran, in the background.   The larger workboat is MPC Athenia which was being used as a floating base or ROVs - remote underwater vessels, for detailed inspections on the three turbines operating at the MeyGen demonstration subsea site one and a half miles off Gills Harbour.  
    Latest Boats At Gills Harbour For Work At MeygenThumbnail for article : Latest Boats At Gills Harbour For Work At Meygen
    £10 million 'Isle of Jura' temporarily based at Gills Harbour in Far North of Scotland for her crew's debut tasks in the tidal-stream electricity field at the MeyGen sub-sea site, one mile off the little Caithness's port entrance channel.   One of the UK's most modern marine renewables service vessels made her debut calls at community-owned Gills Harbour, near John O'Groats, over the 2021 Spring Equinoctial weekend.  
    Busy Gills HarbourThumbnail for article : Busy Gills Harbour
    Its been a busy few days at local community-owned Gills Harbour .....  sometimes in suberb sunny weather as here ...  
    Energy Developments Continue at Gills Harbour and the Pentland FirthThumbnail for article : Energy Developments Continue at Gills Harbour and the Pentland Firth
    The company behind the world-leading tidal-stream prototype power plant in the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound is set to start manufacturing a new-style turbine that is hopes will reduce the project's generating costs.   Simec Atlantis Energy (SAE) and a privately-owned specialist engineering firm from Spain's Bay of Biscay coastline have jointly been conducting 'research and development' (R& D) on the project for almost a year and are now ready to give it the go-ahead.  
    New Generation of office-bearers set to step up at Gills Harbour LtdThumbnail for article : New Generation of office-bearers set to step up at Gills Harbour Ltd
    A new generation of younger local folk look set to take over the reins of running Gills Harbour Ltd, the local company that owns and operates the busy little port on the shores of the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound that holds its AGM this Saturday (10.10.20) morning at 10:00 am.   The influx of younger blood comes after two key directors of the group that had run 'Canisbay's Peoples Port' both announced their retirement from office, whilst another Gills Harbour Ltd (GHL) office-bearer has declined to seek re-election.  
    MV Alfred And MV Pentalina Together At GillsThumbnail for article : MV Alfred And MV Pentalina Together At Gills
    An 'old friend' returns to Gills Bay after an absence of manymonths.   The 2,400 tonne 70 m.  
    Normand Cutter, The Norwegian-owned Offshore Construction Vessel at GillsThumbnail for article : Normand Cutter, The Norwegian-owned Offshore Construction Vessel at Gills
    Here is the Normand Cutter, the Norwegian-owned offshore construction vessel that has been the base for works on Simec Atlantis Energy's (SAE's) MeyGen site in the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound, off Gills Bay during the current neap-tide sequence, that has lasted most of the week commencing 11.08.20.   Picture by retired C of S Kirk Minister the Rev Lyall Rennie, who lives at Lower Warse, Canisbay, on the shores of Gills Bay..  
    New Ferry For Pentland Ferries Arrives SafelyThumbnail for article : New Ferry For Pentland Ferries Arrives Safely
    Scotland's most modern + environmentally-friendly, fuel-efficient ROPAX ferry ship rge MV Alfred, arrived AM today (Wed 09.10.19 at St Margarets Hope.   The boat went round to Kirkwall immediately at the end of 9,000+ miles voyage from the Strategic Marine yard near Ho Chi Minh city (ex.  
    Gills Harbour Ltd Awards Contract To Local FirmThumbnail for article : Gills Harbour Ltd Awards Contract To Local Firm
    Gills Harbour Ltd, the community-owned body that owns & operates the busy little port on Caithness's North Coast, has awarded a remedial contract to a Wick-based company.   The deal, won in a competitive tender, has gone to builders/civil engineers Messrs GMR Henderson Ltd, of Martha Terrace in Wick.  

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