ISLAND residents and tourists have been left struggling to get to the mainland from Arran as wind and rain battered the west coast of Scotland.

Trips between Brodick and Ardrossan remained on amber alert today (Monday) as adverse conditions made travelling by sea dangerous and the busiest route in Scotland hit national headlines as questions were raised over the age of the ferries, the reliability of the port of Ardrossan and whether anything further could be done.

The issue was raised on the BBC’s flagship Good Morning Scotland radio programme and Gavin Fulton, chair of the island’s ferry action group told the programme: "We absolutely accept that there will be days in the year when the ferry won't sail, but the situation in the past was the boat sailed to Ardrossan on a regular basis and when the weather was bad the boat sailed to Gourock.

"Although we would get less sailings in a day, we still had a secure link to the mainland. Some years ago the boat stopped sailing to Gourock and there has been no credible explanation as to why it does not sail to Gourock now."

Late last year, Troon was used as a refuge port for one day but massive delays ensued and the ferry service has not returned to South Ayrshire since.

But the Scottish Government has come under scrutiny following today’s issues with the delayed new Glen Sannox ferry and the much mooted improvements to Ardrossan Harbour falling into the spotlight once again, despite the fact that the Lochranza to Claonaig ferry was still running and was able to transfer passengers to the mainland despite the weather.

Of the 28 Calmac routes in the country, 27 were affected by weather warnings, cancellations or delays – not just the Isle of Arran.

And this also comes as the main vessel, the MV Caledonian Isles, is in dry dock for its once-yearly refit with the MV Isle of Arran and the MV Hebridean Isles stepping in to help keep things ticking over as regularly as possible, with extra services being introduced as soon as the weather subsides to ensure the backlog of those on the island are able to return home or to their next destination.

Calmac’s director of operations Robert Morrison said: "In such conditions, ships' masters will take a decision on whether it is safe to sail or not based on wind speed and direction, sea swell and tidal conditions combined with their experience of sailing in west coast waters."

He said extra sailing had been provided since January 3 to clear a backlog of bookings, and that a shuttle service to cope with the latest disruption had managed to clear about half the cars booked to sail.