Cumbrae

With the pootling about on the bike on the flat going OK I decided to set myself a goal. In fact it was going to be a double goal but more on that later.

To most of us who live in the west of Scotland at some point during our childhood we'll have been "doon the water" to one of the Firth of Clyde seaside resorts. I've always referred to the Isle of Great Cumbrae as Millport, which is the main settlement on the island, but there is certainly a lot more to Cumbrae than its town. The island lies just off Largs in North Ayrshire with a 10 minute ferry ride to make it all the more exciting. Even better, cycles are free :-)

The first goal of the day was to cycle round the island. It's 10.25 miles of mostly flat road and my guide book said it should take approximately 1hr 30m. ................mmmmm wonder how long we'd take? It was a tad nippy as we waited for the ferry at Largs so I ran into the cafe to pick up some coffees to keep us warm on the crossing over. What I hadn't expected was the fact that it's a new ferry since I was last on the island over 10 years ago and it has a very nice enclosed observation deck something that the old one lacked. It meant that when we reached Cumbrae we still had coffee to drink as they were still too hot, so we sat at the slip and watched the ferry head back to Largs.

Traffic jam Cumbrae style
Steve with the coffees
The MV Loch Shira heading back to Largs
And we're ready for the off
Soon we were off heading to the north of the island. It was a wee bit windy but not so bad to cause any real problems. Before too long we were stopping to look at the birds on the shore line, take photos and look out for seals. This would be the pattern of events for our whole journey round.

Oyster catchers and eider ducks Stinking Bay
Oyster catchers sunning themselves at Stinking Bay
Geese at Skate Point
Swan getting a drink at Fintry Bay
Large bird flying above Cumbrae
The west coast of the island is a lovely revelation of sandy bays interspersed with rocky ones and the views over to the Isle of Bute and Arran are constantly catching your attention, hence we had lots more stops to take it all in. As we rounded the southern tip Little Cumbrae comes proudly into view. It's now privately owned so gaining access to it is somewhat difficult which is a shame as I'd love to have a wee explore. Before we new it we were hitting the town.

The views of Bute and Arran opening up as we go along
Scary face in the bushes
Looking out west from Bell Bay
Steve at Sheriff's Point

Little Cumbrae
Welcome to Millport with Hunterston A in the background
Millport Bay seems timeless. It's been over 10 years since my last visit but it looks unchanged with its fine array of Victorian "big hooses" looking over the Ayrshire coast. Once we'd had a wee wander it was time for goal number two.

Millport seafront
Earlier this month I had mentioned a list of HuMPs that caught my attention. Well, Cumbrae just happens to have it's very own HuMP Barbay Hill. It was just too much of a temptation. How could I ignore this summit after all it's only 127m with the trig just 20m from the road. Bit of a no brainer. So we headed out of Millport taking the anticlockwise route up to the top of the island. Boy this was hard work and before too long I was pushing the bike. The knee may have been coping fairly well with our slow meander on the flat stuff but it really didn't like the hills despite the bike's excellent gearing. It was worth it though as the views from the top were fantastic. OK it wasn't blue sky but we could see right over to Ben Lomond & the Arrochar Alps to the north as well as having fantastic views over to Bute and Arran. Fantastic. It was all downhill back to Millport

The final pull up to the top of Barbay Hill
Looking north towards the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond still with their winter hat on
Steve & I on top of Barbay Hill with one of the Glaid Stones behind
Moddy Arran & the tip of Bute
Trig point on Barbay Hill
Ailsa Craig just visible on the horizon
We had planned to go see the Cathedral to the Isles on the way back into Millport but Steve was going so fast he missed the turning so that'll just have to wait for the next visit. It was time to complete the last part of the journey round the island back to the slip. And there was one last amazing site to be seen on this east shore, Lion Rock. Well impressive geological dyke formation. 

Back at sea level at Kames Bay
Lion Rock
We were back at this slip in perfect time for the ferry back to Largs, four hours after we'd arrived - a tad out on the book time. My knee was feeling it but what a magical day out. To finish the day there was only one thing left to do. We were in Largs after all so that must mean fish, chips and ice cream at Nardini's. Yum yum 

The fantastic Nardini's Cafe - worthy of a visit anytime in Largs
Cumbrae

Comments

  1. Nice post and great pics. Shows that its not all about big days out on the mountains. It looks like a lovely outing.

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  2. I quite fancy doing summat like this myself when I'm back from Oz. I need to get back on the bike to get in and out of work again. Been getting lazy but the weather's getting more bike friendly so there's no excuse.

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  3. It's a great wee outing Stephen and often overlooked due to the reputation that the island has of being stuck in the 50's.

    Sandy when are you back? It'd be great to catch up by doing a wee pootle like this. Also investigating potential routes for Bute and the Cowal peninsula - so long as they're flat!!!

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  4. Should be touching down on the 02nd of April but I'm dayshift so will prolly be working the next couple of weekends after that :o( I'll keep you posted though.

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