As it was a lovely March weekend I went over to the island of Great Cumbrae to visit the seaside town of Millport. Driving down to Largs I wondered if there would be any snow on the mountains of Arran and this proved to be the case when I parked for free along the beach front road between the Pencil and the ferry terminal.
Bute and Great Cumbrae are two of my favourite islands for walking and cycling and they have magnificent panoramas of Arran – their rugged larger near neighbour whose mountains loom above them. In my opinion, in good weather, they offer some of the world's finest island views, yet most of the year they remain quiet and peaceful. Another advantage is that they catch more of the sun, being low lying and sheltered, while Arran, with its mountainous interior, can hang onto dark cloud or rain showers much longer.
Both islands have a wide range of walking and cycling routes and you can hire bikes in Millport, which is ideal for families exploring or walking around on a nice day, winter or summer.
At £3:20 return on the ferry from Largs to Great Cumbrae it's a bargain price for walkers or folk with their own bikes going over to tour this small but charming island. Millport itself is child friendly with several lovely beaches, interesting gardens, rock pools and easy shoreline scrambles, palm trees and safe traffic free walking along the extensive promenade.
A bus meets the ferry and takes you into town or you can walk a couple of miles over the interior of the island on quiet minor roads with stunning views over the Firth of Clyde and its islands. Apart from a few weeks in mid summer, when it's busy and popular, this island feels Hebridean in nature because it's so tranquil – yet it's less than an hour's drive from Glasgow and the Central Belt. It has always been my magical kingdom and I see no reason to change that view now.
For anyone interested my pictorial guide book to the River Clyde and the Firth of Clyde Islands is available on Kindle for £1:99 packed with original colour photographs. It includes information about dozens of easy day, lesser known, walking and cycling trips in this beautiful region. Perfect for armchair enthusiasts, nostalgia lovers remembering childhood holidays or keen outdoor adventurers.