The Isle of Great Cumbrae is a fairly small island with a lot of heart! It lives on Scotland’s west coast in the Firth of Clyde and is the larger of two islands, the other being known as wee Cumbrae.
The sailing from Largs to Cumbrae only takes around eight minutes. You’ll find very reasonable ferry prices from Calmac as a foot passenger or taking your vehicle.
If you’re driving to Largs there’s a car park just past the ferry terminal on Gallowgate Street for £3 a day. Take a ticket from the machine when entering the car park and pay when you leave.
If you’re not taking your car on the sailing buses meet the ferry and will take you to the main town of Millport.
The island is 10.5 miles round. You can do many things such as:
- hire bikes and ride round the island (very reasonable prices too)
- walk round the island which is fairly flat (anti-clockwise is best)
- explore and geocache finding hidden treasures
- spend your day in Millport town and browse the shops and eateries
- run round the island, ideal training for a half marathon
- walk up to the Glaid Stone summit (127 metres, 417ft) and admire the breathtaking views on a clear day
- take a picnic, find a quiet beach somewhere and chill
- buy some local fish and chips and find a nice spot to enjoy
The Isle of Cumbrae has lots to offer so it’s worth visiting www.millport.org for more details.
I’ve visited the island a few times over the last ten years. Here’s a wee snapshot of my experiences:
Romantic day out
The first time was with Alan in 2006. We were planning to walk round the island and also to the summit. I remember being excited as I’d never been before.
Of course I decided to climb on to the Crocodile Rock with the wrong shoes on and twisted my ankle jumping off it. It was sore for many months! Lesson learned.
So instead we travelled by car round the island and drove to the Glaid Stone summit.
From the summit we could see across the water to the Isle of Arran, Isle of Bute, wee Cumbrae and Ailsa Craig and other spectacular views to the north.
Family day out
After my first visit I realised that this wee island would be a great day out for my children so we visited again in 2006. The short ferry ride would test the water to see how well they sail!
So myself, my children, mum, brother, sister-in-law and their kids had a family day out. My children were six and two years old at the time.
We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and took a picnic with us. The kids enjoyed the trampolines in Millport town and also exploring the beaches with buckets and spades.
We also visited a beach further round the island beside the spooky Indian man rock.
After our day at the beach we bought some fish and chips, drove to the Glaid Stone summit and enjoyed our food.
Cycling round the island
In 2014 we cycled round the island. It was only around £20 to hire four bikes for a few hours. We cycled anti-clockwise and it was a great way to see the island at a slower pace, stopping anywhere we wanted to. The island is fairly quiet with traffic and many other people were cycling too. It took us around two hours with many stops to cycle round.
The monument is a memorial to Charles Cayley and William Jewel. They were sailors on HMS Shearwater who drowned in 1844.
About three-quarters of the way round the island we stopped at the Fintry Bay tea room for some much needed cold drinks and ice cream. We also enjoyed the views across the sea. It was really busy with people on their bikes, enjoying the sunshine.
A photo opportunity for my children on the crocodile. Don’t tell them I posted this!
Some action photos from the Glaid Stone summit.
Running round the island
The next time I visited was in 2015. This was a whole different experience. I was going to run round the island!
The annual Isle of Cumbrae run takes place in September every year and I thought why not give it a try. I could already run a slow 10k after years of practise so this would be a challenge. I joined another 200 plus professional runners, but I wasn’t there to compete, only to finish.
I didn’t manage to run it all. After 8k I was exhausted and sore. So after that it was walk/jog to the finish line.
It took me 2 hours, 9 minutes, 45 seconds. It was the most difficult challenge I had ever done. Also the first time I was ever sick after a run. I ended up being injured for quite a while after this too. Never again I said.
Walking in the rain
I love walking in the rain! Well, most of the time. It really is so refreshing.
Myself and a new friend decided to meet up in July 2016 and walk round the island. We first met in December 2015 through the love of the TV Series Outlander and kept in touch. Both of us liked walking outdoors so this get together was ideal to keep fit, enjoy the outdoors and catch up at the same time.
It was a really wet, dull and foggy day, but we still went ahead with the walk. We travelled as foot passengers and started the walk where we were dropped off, anti-clockwise round the island.
Even on a wet dull day, we could still find some beauty on this little island.
The Indian Rock Man was really hiding in the trees since the last time I visited. I could hardly see him.
We stopped at the war memorial, sat on the bench and ate some lunch. It’s such a peaceful place for a war memorial.
It was July and Fintry Bay was closed. I don’t know why, possibly because of the weather. We must have been the crazy people out in the rain!
We eventually walked right round the island and reached the town of Millport. It was still raining and we were both soaked. I forgot to bring my waterproof trousers and my socks were wet even though I had walking boots on.
We popped into a gift shop where I bought some artificial daisies. My money was soaked as well. The lady in the shop kindly took my soggy five pound note.
We decided to walk to the summit, it had to be done whilst we were there. I knew we wouldn’t see the views though.
One thing I noticed, the island has lots and lots of benches! So even if you’re feeling a bit tired you can rest your weary legs regularly. This one looks like a bench for 10 people!
It was kind of spooky walking in the fog. I started thinking of the movie American Werewolf in London … as you do when walking in the moors in the fog …
So we finally reached the summit. It was white out, but still very lush and atmospheric.
The plaques on the stone were heart warming to read and sad at the same time. I felt the love these people had for this place. One day, I’d like to be remembered in this way.
A lovely elderly couple appeared and took a photo of us together on the Glaid Stone. We chatted for a wee while and laughed about the views we couldn’t see.
We stayed for about half an hour and then headed back down to Millport.
We passed this unusual monument on the way down. It looked like an old well, but very fancy indeed. Coins were sitting inside like a wishing well.
At Millport there was even a few people on the beach paddling in the waves.
Looking across to Millport on the right, wee Cumbrae on the left. The Isle of Arran is hiding straight ahead!
Yet another rock with geology imitating life. The Lion Rock. I wonder why it’s the only rock that isn’t painted?
My legs were really starting to ache. We had walked 14 miles and this was the worst my legs had ever felt. I think my wet trousers and wet feet didn’t help.
It was a great walk, even though our cheeky weather decided to hide all the views that day.
We returned to Largs and when I looked for my parking ticket to put it into the payment machine it was soaking wet. I thought I wouldn’t get out of the car park as it was too soggy to go into the machine. I had to dry it off in the car and eventually it worked. Phew!
Another lesson learned, wrap money and anything paper in a plastic bag!
Another run round the island
I did say never again didn’t I? Well, I’ve only gone and signed up for the 10 mile run again on Sunday 11 September 2016.
This run is part of My Peak Challenge. My goal is to run without walking this year. If I do have to walk, I hope to even take some time off last year’s run. If I can do this, then next year my main peak challenge will be to run a half marathon.
I really hope I can do this and it doesn’t break me. Wish me luck!
I did it!
I’m so pleased to say that I completed the run without walking! I also took 20 minutes off my time from last year finishing in 1 hour 49 minutes and 18 seconds. I’m happy with that :).
Farewell Cumbrae until next year.
Thanks for reading.