In the Firth of Clyde, just off the Ayrshire coast, the small island of Cumbrae is a popular day trip. There is a regular ten minute sailing to the island from Largs. It has a lovely old fashioned relaxed atmosphere.
The island is fairly flat - the highest point, the Glaid Stone, is only 127m above sea level. The main settlement is Millport at the opposite end of the island to the ferry slipway.
There are few roads and little other settlement. Cycling is very popular and the quadricycle is a popular way to explore the island.
The road from the ferry terminal runs above the shore to Millport past the rocky outcrop aptly named Lion Rock.
Millport grew as a town around the bay in the 1700s, linking the two older settlements of Kames and Kirkton. It was an important customs base and used to monitor shipments and smugglers. Garrison house constructed in 1745 held the soldier’s barracks and the Captain’s mansion,
In 1833 Lord Glasgow built a pier at Millport and the town rapidly became a regular port of call for Clyde Steamers until the 1960s. It became an important holiday destination with a wide Victorian promenade around the bay.
In 1849 the 6th Lord Glasgow funded the building of a theological college in Millport. The building was completed in 1851, and in 1876 it was consecrated as the Cathedral of the Isles.
Lord Glasgow lost most of his fortune in a banking scandal in 1886 and Great Cumbrae was sold to the then Marquess of Bute. The golf club at the top of the island was formed in 1888, and is one of the oldest on the Firth of Clyde.
In 1897, the Millport Marine Station opened. Funding ceased in 2013 and the centre was forced to shut. It now belongs to the Field Studies Centre and runs courses.