Port To Port, a day oot in Cumaradh Mor…….

The weather had shown a turn for the better, a day or two of sunshine had removed the winter gloom from the constant wind and rain which seemed nonstop over the winter months. I thought it was be a plan to get out for one of those days to enjoy. I decided sod it and I booked a holiday for the next day. An impulse or was it I was just waiting for any opportunity? I’ll be honest and say it was the latter.

The last few winters spent pouring over maps looking at routes up hills for radio work but more time spent looking at ‘days oot’ for the bike. I have pigeonholed a few ‘localish’ ones to share a day out with fellow blogee Roddy. I have GPX routes stored everywhere on my ‘puter and up in the cloud, just in case !

Tuesday I was musing what run to ‘do’, I was going through the blog and came across my ‘Fish Supper’ post HERE. It set off a light and off to the map.

Main road, back road, cycle track start or rough track?

I decided on over the Green Rd, left up Auchentiber Rd through to Garshangan forestry track, the Old Largs Road and obviously on to Largs, Great Cumbrae, why not?. A good mix of road, track and a sail across the briny.

The return journey? Haylie Brae, A8 to home, reverse the same route? I’d decide when it is time to head back.

I got everything packed into my saddle bag as I’d decided that I’d try to bag the roadside caches on Cumbrae if I ventured over. All ready to go after the forecast frost started to disappear.

I had woke up to a moderate frost, first, a cuppa and breakfast.

It was time to go..

I headed up to the Green Rd, stopping to have a talk with the golf course lads before carefully heading up an icy lower track. I soon reached the high point and the views N were stunning, Cruachan, Ime and Lomond among others showing with a good covering of snow. I had to take care on the descent as work is going on a wind turbine installation.

Largs awaits

Largs awaits

I headed W towards Garshangan Rd and steadily rising I dropped to take the rough forestry track which has been ‘improved’ lately and was before long back on tarmac heading on the single track Old Largs Rd towards its high point where I would gratefully drop quickly downhill into the lush pastures of Brisbane Glen. I met some brave souls cycling up this steep climb, someday I’ll attempt it.

I was soon approaching Largs which seems to have crept up the Glen over the years since I lived in the area. I took a diversion to have a nostalgic look at the area of Largs in which I stayed, it hadn’t changed much in almost 40 years. I thought I better head down and catch the ferry. I had turned into the street would take me to the prom when a female decided on trying to walk across a moving bike. I applied the brakes and I’m sure she never knew I was there.

I soon crossed on to the prom when I saw leaving the ferry leaving the slip as I cycled along the promenade. A haphazard cycle track is laid out so you have to be alert as no one seems to take notice.

Time to take on some water and scran, I bought my ticket for the journey and soon I boarded the ferry, the Loch Shira takes no time at all to cross to the Tattie Pier (now a slip). The obvious reason for the same as it was here the local farmers would ‘export’ potatoes to the mainland. The mainland bit reminded of the story of a local Millport minister, James Adam who would pray ‘for the Great and Little Cumbraes and the adjacent islands of Britain and Ireland’.

I remember swimming across to the slip in the 70s, a bet made whilst under the influence but I won the bet. Funnily it had actually cost me more to win such a small sum.

I was the only cyclist and after the cars drove off, I got waved forward. I stopped at the roadside and wondered, right or left…right won and I got my GPS set up and it was off geocaching as I headed around the island. I’d 15 loaded in but I knew some had DNF’s (did not find) but I’d look in the off chance. Not before long, the first was in the bag and as I cycled around the island I stopped at the sandstone memorial at Tomont End, this obelisk built to commemorate two lost seamen from HMS Shearwater which sank off this point in 1844.

Wee Cumbrae

Wee Cumbrae

Bute from Fintry Bay

Bute from Fintry Bay

I carried on stopping at various points on geocaching business but made a stop at White Bay to ‘rub’ the ball at the marker of which there are five placed around the island, more on this HERE.

I carried on passed what used to a WW2 listening post locally named ‘Hush Hush’, Eerie Point Info HERE.

The sun by now was high in the sky with a pleasant heat in the air as I slowly took in the sights and sounds as I pedalled past Fintry Bay but no coffee as the cafe was closed. Just over 4 mile from the town centre of Millport. I stopped at the well-kept ‘ Memorial to the Missing‘ with the Isles of Arran and Bute as a backdrop. I stopped to take on some water. A peaceful place.

Not long before I soon saw the island of Wee Cumbrae, I could see the ruins of the lighthouse high above the sea where now a fixed light does the duty. More info HERE. Wee or Little Cumbrae dominates the views as you ride from one end of Millport to the other. I had decided that I’d wait until back at Largs before I took a scran break, guess what I’d promised myself? Yep soul food.

Millport stretches along the shorefront from near Portachur Point to the far side of Kames Bay. Imposing buildings are the Cathedral of the Isles, the Garrison House and many fine Victorian villas.

I stopped and did a tourist thing and bought a fridge magnet, a generous soul me. A quick look for a couple of geocaches and it was around Kames Bay with its grand villas whilst I looked for the start of the path which would take me down Farland Point. I bagged an unusual cache at a seating area before arriving at the point where in the early 70’s, I spent many a day and night fishing for conger eels among other species. I fished this part of the island at marks extending back to Clashfarland point. Memories indeed plus I’ll not bother you with stories like the four days I spent marooned on the island, winter drinking sessions among many others.

Garrison House

Garrison House

I stopped to take an image of Keppel Pier and spoke to a couple of locals who were taking a walk to my next destination Lion Rock, an impressive rock structure, more HERE.

I now had only a couple of stops to make before I would make a dash for the ferry to take me back across to Largs. Cache logged then it was off to the Tattie Pier.

I boarded the ferry with a few cyclists including one tandem. It was not before long we arrived in Largs where it was time to get the scran I promised….

I headed to buy myself a fish supper…..healthy food? but delicious but I was on a day out and you treat yourself, right? my choice.

It was hungrily eaten on the promenade and washed down by Scotland’s other national drink, Irn Bru. The sugar would be added fuel for the return journey (A good excuse!) and after not much deliberation, it was a journey along the A78 towards the outskirts of Greenock passing through Skelmorlie, Wemyss Bay, Inverkip and up the Homeston brae where I was to veer right and take the road up to Cornalees and I stopped for a quick cup of coffee at the fishery before a trip around Loch Thom before heading back along the Garshangan forestry track as the light started to fail.

Yer Man

Yer Man

I soon reached Auchentiber Rd where I stepped up a gear or two and before long I was back on Route 75 before I broke off to head back to home the long way.

I’d arrived in near darkness and 5o miles on the clock.

I felt the climb back up to Cornalees with a few occasional breathers but everything else managed, 10 geocaches bagged.

A day out to remember.

If you haven’t been to Great Cumbrae, get yourself across plus as the ‘Isle of a 1,000 Bikes’, there are shops willing to hire you a bike for the 10 mile round trip, you will not regret your visit.

My thanks again to Wikipedia and others that I have linked to.

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2 Comments

  1. Well done that man. A cracking day out, hope you had it warmer than I did on my trip to the island. I was just there to do a couple of laps, the leisurely pace sounds much better. A cycle up the A78, you’re a braver man than I gunga din. Let’s hope this year has as much sun and as many dry days as last year, I look forward to the ‘localish’ trips you promised ;-).

  2. It was a cracking day out, too much time spent on the island caching but next time a leisurely exploration of the other island roads.
    A78, a bit hairy but there are pavements to use occasionally.
    The Cornalees section was the toughy but pre fed with the mentioned I got home as dark was falling.
    A good day.

    Mhor

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