Posted by: christinelaennec | July 5, 2016

A magical getaway: the Isle of Cumbrae

Last weekend I had the most wonderful opportunity!  I sang with the Scottish Plainsong Choir at the Cathedral of the Isles on the Isle of Cumbrae.  I’ll tell you about it over two posts.  Having prepared Michael and the Dafter for my three day absence, on Friday I took the train from Glasgow to Largs (about an hour), and walked down to the pier to take the ferry across to Cumbrae, just a bit more than a mile away.

Largs used to be a very popular summer destination, especially before the era of package holidays abroad.  As the ferry slipped away, I could see Nardini’s distinctive Art Deco restaurant near the waterfront:

Leaving Largs: Nardini's famous ice cream. July 2016.

Leaving Largs: Nardini’s cafe on the left, famous for its ice cream. July 2016.

It must be one of the shortest ferry journeys on the Cal-Mac timetable, just ten minutes to cross:

It's ten minutes' ferry ride to the Isle of Cumbrae.

On the ferry to Cumbrae.

The bus was waiting, and in another few minutes I was in the town of Millport.

The bay in Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, with the Isle of Arran in the distance. July 2016.

The bay in Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, with the Isle of Arran in the distance. July 2016.

I recognised the peak of Goat’s Fell on the Isle of Arran from our visit there in 2014.  I was a bit sad to think that the Dafter had enjoyed those months of improved health before her relapse in January 2015 – but she is making steady progress.  I was made very welcome at my B&B, where I once again (as in April on Harris) experienced the delicious feeling of being able to read for a while, knowing I was responsible only for myself and wouldn’t have to jump up.

Just before 7 pm, I walked up through a beautiful back lane to the College of the Holy Spirit, which is attached to the Cathedral of the Isles.  It was originally a theological college, but is now a retreat and guest house.

Walking the back way to the College of the Holy Spirit and the Cathedral of the Isles, Cumbrae. July 2016.

Walking the back way to the College of the Holy Spirit and the Cathedral of the Isles, Cumbrae. July 2016.

There I was warmly welcomed by the staff of the College (and a beautiful golden Lab), as well as by the choir members themselves.  Most of them were staying at the College for the weekend.  We all had dinner together at long tables in the Refectory.  A few of the people there were friends I’ve made in the choirs I sing in regularly, and I met many more people over the weekend.  It was a very friendly atmosphere.

Another view of the Cathedral of the Isles, Millport. July 2016.

The Cathedral of the Isles, with the College of the Holy Spirit adjoining it, on a summer evening.  Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, July 2016.

After a filling dinner, and coffee in the Library, I went for a walk.  Having come to the Cathedral by the back way, I went out the front entrance.  Millport is a popular holiday destination amongst Glaswegians, and several people had told me how lovely it is.  But a few of them had never realised there’s a Cathedral there.  When I looked back from the front gate, I understood how you might miss it:

Just inside the main entrance gate.

Just inside the main entrance gate:  in the summer, the Cathedral is well hidden.

I walked down to the seafront, and enjoyed the smell of the sea and the sound of the oystercatchers.

Evening walk in Millport, July 2016.

Evening walk in Millport, July 2016.  The island of Little Cumbrae is on the left.

As in many parts of the West of Scotland, the Gulf Stream makes for a microclimate that palm trees enjoy:

Millport: palm trees and roses. July 2016.

Millport: palm trees and roses. July 2016.

I was amused by “The Wedge”, which claims to be Britain’s narrowest house:

"The Wedge" is apparently the narrowest house-front in Britain. Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, July 2016.

“The Wedge” apparently has the narrowest house-front in Britain. Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, July 2016.

Presumably it widens at the back, as the painted design of its name suggests! It must present some interesting problems in terms of furniture arrangement.

I ran into a friend also out for a walk, and we went on further together.  The weather forecast had been pretty grim, but we didn’t get wet.  There were beautiful evening skyscapes to admire over the water:

Beautiful evening skies and sea. View from Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, July 2016.

Beautiful evening skies and sea. View from Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, July 2016.

It was a lovely walk.  I did feel a long ways from my life in Glasgow!  Back at my B&B, I read some more, and had a few message-conversations with my two ones (phone reception was pretty minimal but I had WiFi).  And I slept very well indeed.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about Saturday and Sunday!

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Responses

  1. I’m so happy that you had a mini vacation in such a magical place. The scenery looks amazing. And, the palm trees look very lovely. I’m looking forward to reading more about this beautiful area. Hugs, Pat

  2. Beautiful photos! I would love to be able to see the inside of The Wedge.:)

  3. Oh how beautiful and it looks so peaceful. So happy you shared it with us.

  4. A place that I have never been to but looks such a beautiful part of the world. Wonderful that you managed to get a break away.

  5. Ahhhhh, a calm in the storm! Thanks for the part 1 travelogue of your latest trip, Christine. This is just the sort of adventure I would enjoy…and I am so glad you did enjoy 🙂 Did I tell you already that I discovered a palm tree nursery a couple of miles from Boring, OR. I just never associated palm trees with Oregon and am still surprised when I see them in our area. xx

  6. What a lovely looking place, and that house is amazing. I’d love to see inside it.

  7. I love this opportunity you had, to sing in the ancient cathedral. What a great change of pace for you.


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