So Far Yet So Near
Scotland’s delightful Bicycle Island seems a world away…
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