I have always wanted to live on a small, coastal island. Personally, I blame the many times I read Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey as a child, combined with trips to visit my grandparents' home along the coast of Maine. Island living is probably not nearly as romantic as I dream it up to be, but one can definitely dream! So when Aaron came back from a long day in Edinburgh and showed me a piece of paper with two island names written on it, I immediately began researching.
I found we could journey to Cumbrae completely by public transport (hooray!) and so we took a train to Largs, ferry to the island, and bus to Millport.
Once we hopped off in Millport, we discovered it was the most charming, coastal town I've been to in a long time! We were there in the off season, but as fans of visiting during off seasons, it was perfect!
We meandered along the shore, spotting limpets, razor clams, and sea glass.
And wisely, I noticed that the sky was getting a bit darker, and there was a definite rainstorm brewing on the horizon near Little Cumbrae, so we darted into the Garrison House for a cuppa. The Garrison House was destroyed by an arson fire in 2001, eventually rebuilt by the town, and now boasts a small museum, cafe, GP, library, and the local council offices. The cafe was bright and spacious, and the perfect place to sit waiting for the storm to pass.
We kept hearing church bells, so we walked up to the Cathedral of the Isles, the smallest cathedral in Great Britain, and possibly in all of Europe. We wandered around the graveyard, and hoped maybe we could gain admittance inside, but not that day apparently.
One of the things that amazed us about the island was the number of kids darting about after school. We asked our waiter at a restaurant about that (she was a Mum of two) and she said there were nearly 80 kids in the local primary school. The high school students commute back to Largs for school. For a community of just over 1,000, there were more kids than we were expecting!
We finished the day out with a fish tea at a local hotel and pub. Fresh fish in an island town is always a good choice (especially if you douse the chips with vinegar and salt!) Then we headed back to the ferry and home!
Cumbrae is an idyllic island. There are multiple places to rent bikes and trailers for the kids so you can bike around the island as a group. In the summer, many of the shops open up for tourists and there is more to do, besides walking the beach and drinking tea with the locals. If a quiet day, pretending to be an islander is more your style though, Cumbrae is an excellent place to visit in the off season!