Friday 29 June 2012

Languishing in Largs [Day 7]

Magnificent Millport?
Miserable Millport?

And so to Wednesday. Chums David and Jean joined the fbbs on the short (10 mins) trip from Largs across to the Island of Cumbrae. The car ferry service started in 1972 with a couple of "landing craft" style vessels providing a frequent service.
In 2012, boats leave Largs slip every 15 minutes (daily) during the peak season with a 30 minute frequency outside of these dates. As the business has grown, so have the vessels. For those who may wish to follow up this development via Google (etc.) here is a list of all the vessels in regular use since 1972. Other "outsiders" can be used to release the normal ships for maintenance.
1972 - 1976: Coruisk & Largs
1977: Coruisk & Largs / Isle of Cumbrae
1978 - 1985: Isle of Cumbrae
1986: Isle of Cumbrae / Loch Striven & Loch Linnhe 
1987 - 1996: Loch Linnhe & Loch Striven
1997: Loch Riddon & Loch Linnhe
1998 - 2006: Loch Alainn & Loch Riddon
2007 - Present: Loch Shira & Loch Riddon
Today's mis-matched pair are pictured below with their elderly foreunner.
To provide clearance for the larger of the two, Loch Striven, Largs pier was completely rebuilt, although the vessels use a simple concrete slip.

fbb, Mrs fbb with chums David and Jean set off from Largs as passengers, paying £4.60 per head for the return crossing. Looking surprised when "the man" at Largs retained their tickets, they were told, "ye dinnie need tickets to come back." So why not buy a single, thought fbb, mischievously.

But CalMac are wise to that ploy because there simply aren't any singles! The only way to get a free ride would be to swim from Largs to Cumbrae or, possibly, arrange to land your microlight somewhere.

At Cumbrae slip the facilities are rather basic ...
... and it is here that the connecting bus meets the ferry and conveys the crowds of foot passengers to Millport. The lights of the small commuters' car park can be seen just beyond the bus.
The fbb party's vehicle was operated by Millport Motors ...
... carrying its happy passengers to Millport for £3 return. the fbb sailing (and thus the bus) was not overcrowded ...
... with passengers, or for that matter, ...
... vehicles; which may explain why the ferry service needs some subsidy!

Millport, the only settlement on the Island, looked as if economic prosperity had taken a ferry back to Largs and stayed there.
It was early closing day but many businesses were closed permanently. Highlights of the Millport shopping experience were a splendid portion of freshly cooked fish and chips; after which sale the shop closed, much to the chagrin of later visitors who drooled expectantly at fbb's rapidly diminishing portion.

There was an excellent (closed Wednesday pm) joke shop ...
... with "Glo Snot Nose" being a particular highlight. Chortle chortle

Things to see included the narrowest house in the world (?) ...
... called "The Wedge".

And lots of people riding bikes ...
... including a real quad bike! Cycling is a good way to see the whole island as there is no public transport (except taxi) other than the bus to the ferry. Chum Jean was particularly excited about seeing the ...
... Croodile Rock, a highlight (the highlight) of Millport beach which she remembered from childhood visits. Jean is the one with the pink scarf; the dog is called Bramble and is a Labradoodle.

One other treat that the fbb party eschewed was a drink in the beer garden of the pub (The Royal George) at the town's bus terminus.
Interesting use of the word "garden"? And yes, the concrete "grass" is painted red; it's not a camera fault.

Like so many of our UK resorts, Millport is past its best. The fbb visit was on a dull and cloudy day which is not ideal. When the sun comes out, the Island of Cumbrae is picturesque and quaint but, without a doubt, the town is in need of several licks of paint.

The bus back to the ferry was operated by Cumbrae Coaches ...
... and the vehicle and passenger numbers on the boat were, erm, not excessive.
The bus service is, once you arrive on the Island, simple to understand and use. BUT finding out about it is not so easy; thus fbb will be publishing a extra blog on the subject in a few days.
Technology Troubles Tamper with Tomorrows Transmission!
It will not be possible to provide a blog in real time for the fbb's
return journey. Any excitements will be reported later next week.
A final Largs based blog will be posted before departure
tomorrow morning.
 Next Blog : Saturday June 30th 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. In 2003 when we visited Cumbrae, Waverley called at Millport en route to Tarbert (it doesn't do so now). Thus one could escape from Cumbrae other than by CalMac or swiming - but we still had to buy returns on the ferry!

  3. Thanks Daddygadgets : blog already in preparation as I type this. I have deleted your comment pro tem, so as not to pre-release!