Great Cumbrae, and its town of Millport in particular, is home to the smallest working cathedral in the British Isles. The Episcopal ‘Cathedral of the Isles’ is the tallest building in Millport, although a little lost amongst its surrounding trees, and is built in the Gothic revival style. Inside the sun shining through stained glass gave a colourful mottled light on the walls and religious paintings. Outside grand stone steps led up the steep hill to the main door, although access to visit was in a more modest smaller entrance at the back.
Millport itself huddles around the southern bay with views out to Hunterston power station on the mainland and Little Cumbrae. The ferry now arrives at the north of the island and access to the town is along one of two coast hugging roads or one that cuts through the centre. The eastern coastal road is the shorter and easier route and this gives access to a short loop of a walk to Farland Point. The walk squeezes between a rocky shoreline and a boggy plateau which appeared to be dotted with an impressive array of non-native and sometimes invasive plants such as rhododendron, Japanese knotweed and crocosmia. Near the tip of the land a small redundant stone built quay caused the gentle waves to spew spray upward. The purpose of this structure was unclear. Here a lone curlew perched on the spray splattered rocks but little else drew our attention.
Beaches are few and far between on the island and with the tide in again our options for coastal walks off the encircling road were limited. A viewpoint at the island’s high point provided vistas out to Bute and the ever present hills of Arran, showers and their rainbows crossed the sea to the west, we stayed dry but only just. Fintray Bay with the tide in once more gave us an option for a coastal wander on the interface between sea and land with views out west.
Garrison House in Millport provided us with tea and cake in the courtyard ready for our return journey. It was built in 1745 to house the officers of the ‘Royal George’ a customs ship stationed in the town which pursued smugglers in the Firth of Clyde. The sunken garden at the front was an early 20th century addition in the arts and crafts style by London Architect Robert weir Schultz.