So Far Yet So Near

Scot­land’s de­light­ful Bi­cy­cle Is­land seems a world away…

The Scots Magazine - - Focus On… Cumbrae And The Ayrshire Coast -

WHAT has a croc­o­dile, hun­dreds of bi­cy­cles, one of the world’s nar­row­est houses and is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for thou­sands of hol­i­day-mak­ers ev­ery year? Mill­port, Great Cum­brae, is the an­swer.

It’s only 10 min­utes by ferry from Largs, but you’re about to un­der­take a re­laxed is­land ex­pe­ri­ence that leaves the main­land seem­ingly 100 miles away.

Mill­port was once named as one of the most charm­ing towns in Scot­land, but there have been moves by lo­cals to have it up­graded to city sta­tus. The claim is le­git­i­mate as the town con­tains Bri­tain’s small­est cathe­dral.

The croc is the fa­mous painted Croc­o­dile Rock that stands on the seashore, and is one of the town’s ma­jor land­marks. The bi­cy­cles are Mill­port’s favourite means of con­veyance around the town or around Great Cum­brae it­self – the is­land is of­ten re­ferred to as the Bi­cy­cle Is­land.

The house in ques­tion is The Wedge, which mea­sures 1.19 me­tres (47 inches) across its front el­e­va­tion, 6.7 me­tres (22 feet) long and just 3.3 me­tres (11 feet) wide at its widest point.

The fo­cal point of the town is Gar­ri­son House, whose ori­gins go back to the 18th cen­tury. It was used then as bar­racks for the crew of the Royal Ge­orge, a ves­sel used to com­bat smug­gling in the Firth of Clyde.

Ex­ten­sive restora­tion after a fire has given it a sleek, mod­ern in­te­rior which houses a mu­seum telling the story of the is­lands of Great Cum­brae and Lit­tle Cum­brae. It is also the home of the Gar­ri­son Model Rail­way Club, which has set up tracks stretch­ing to 91m (300 feet) with more than a dozen trains run­ning on it.

Mill­port is an ideal base for out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. A short walk will take you to the top of Bar­bay Hill where you can en­joy mag­nif­i­cent views of Ar­ran, Bute and the Ayr­shire coast, and the shore­line pro­vides plenty of op­por­tu­nity for crab­bing or rock-pool­ing.

The town is also the home of the Na­tional Water­sports Train­ing Cen­tre, where many of Scot­land’s top yachts­men

Beaches and bikes – a hol­i­day idyll

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