Places to Go: Cumbrae

Millport, aka the Isle of Cumbrae (just that everyone calls the island by the name of its one and only town, Millport) is a one hour drive or train journey from Glasgow. It’s just off the west coast at Largs which conveniently has a train station so that it’s the most accessible island from Glasgow. The 2 ferries cross as a shuttle which means you never have to wait long.

The island is very small and rather flat, making it ideal for cycling. The ring road is 10 mile long and while you could take your car across, it’s probably neither worth the expense nor in the spirit of Millport because what really everyone should do on the island is cycle around (at least once).  There are buses connecting the ferry pier with the town too, so really, a car isn’t needed on the island.

We cycled around the island some time back and still have to do it this year with our now family of 4. Back 2 years ago we stayed overnight in the Cathedral College. The Cathedral of the Isles is the smallest cathedral of the UK (in fact, Cumbrae also boasts the narrowest house in the UK so really Cumbrae has it all!), and to maintain it, the former monks’ rooms have been converted into a hotel. There’s a very calm and relaxing atmosphere to this hotel. It’s got 3 stars, some rooms are en suite others aren’t and although reasonably basic for a hotel, it’s got a lot going for it. There are massive common rooms for spending the evenings in, filled with old furniture, big open fires and a library of books. You’ll find the minister (or whatever you call an episcopal church man) in the common room and at the breakfast table, which is served communally at 9am. Our room had a window out (in) to the cathedral interior, which was extra special and also treated our older daughter to lovely violin/piano/flute music to fall asleep to from 8-10pm.

If staying in an old monastery isn’t your thing, there are caravans to be rented, plenty of B&Bs and hotels to choose from; and many people visit just for the day anyway.

I really enjoyed the stay, and could see myself spending a week in that place. Cumbrae is a small island as you may have deducted from the above, but it’s got all you need for a lovely family holiday with kids. Beaches with heaps of shells, it’s a cycle friendly island, there’s plenty of quaint and beautiful shops, even a museum, a sensory trail around the coast, seabirds, seals, walks, cafes and if you’re hardy, you can actually bathe in the sea. Not for me, I’m not that Scottish yet.

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