The Cumbrae (The Coig): The Ultimate Road Trip Guide 2023
There is a great assembly of famous landmarks, hidden gems and unmissable sights on the Isle of Cumbrae.
The Cumbrae is one of the smaller routes that are part of The Coig. However, it is definitely one of the most memorable routes in Scotland.
To reach the tiny island you can get a ferry from Largs and drive or cycle to the island’s only town, Millport. Altogether, the island is four miles in length and two miles wide.
Overall, the main cycling/walking or driving circular route is ten miles long. In total, the route will take 45 minutes driving in the car.
However, this is without stopping to take in amazing sights along the way.
Can You Drive Around Cumbrae?
There is a road that circles the island which is a good option to drive. Overall, the route should take 45 minutes to drive without stopping.
As you build up your itinerary and stop at the scenic locations, the driving time will increase. However, it is easy to make a day trip to the Isle of Cumbrae.
How do you get to the isle of Cumbrae?
The Isle of Cumbrae is located two miles off the Scottish mainland coast at the town of Largs and is known as ‘Scotland’s Most Accessible Island’.
There are two small car and passenger ferries that run between Largs and the Ferry Slip on Cumbrae. These ferries run every half hour, all day.
In addition, the ferry journey itself is quite short and only takes ten minutes. No advance bookings are required on this route.
An adult return ticket is £3.50. From the ferry slip, regular buses run to Millport which is four miles away.
The Coig is a set of five routes that have been recently established for travellers and nature lovers. Interestingly, the Coig is Scottish Gaelic for five.
There are five routes – Arran, Bute, Cumbrae, Shiel and Shire. These routes display the best stunning scenery on the popular western isles of Scotland as well as the spectacular western mainland of Scotland.
Cycling Around Cumbrae
The great Cumbrae is a popular destination for cyclists as the circular ten-mile loop around the island is mostly flat. You will not find many islands that have a perfect circular cycling route.
You can rent a bike on the Isle of Cumbrae. Some places to rent a bike include Bremner’s Bike Hire, Maps Cycle Hire and ‘On Your Bike’.
If you have your own bike, I would recommend cycling around the island anti-clockwise. Therefore, once you get off the ferry you can avoid all the traffic that is going straight in the opposite direction to Millport.
How Long Does it Take to Cycle Around Cumbrae?
You can follow the coastal road which encircles the island. The road is ten miles long, with fairly flat roads therefore it is perfect for cycling.
Overall, cycling can take between one and two hours at a leisurely pace.
Millport Accommodation: The Reef, On Yer Bike & Gone Fishin, Beside the Bay
Location: Ballochmartin Bay
Once you get off the ferry and move clockwise around the island you will reach Ballochmartin Bay. Ballochmartin Bay is a wide sweeping bay of sand, cobbles and stones which is surrounded by native coastal birds.
In addition, the bay is recognised by Scottish National Heritage as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. From here, you can admire the views all the way to Largs in Ayrshire.
Butter Lump is a small lump which is located a few yards offshore towards the South East of the island of the Great Cumbrae.
The rock has got its name due to the fact that it looks like a lump of melted butter as it submerges into the shoreline.
Location: Lion Rock
Lion rock is one of the many fascinating geological features on the Isle of Cumbrae. As you can guess, the rock got its name as people believe that the rock formation is seen as a prowling lion.
The striking structure stands 10 metres in height and 50 metres in length.
Geologists believe that the Lion’s Rock has been standing for 65 million years. Also, the rock can be seen from the road as you drive to Millport from the ferry.
Location: Farland Point
Farland Point is an amazing peninsula in the south east of the Island of Great Cumbrae. The viewpoint offers spectacular views over to the Isle of Arran.
In addition, it is perfect for a walk before you get to Millport or it is a great destination for fishing.
Location: Kames Bay
Kames Bay is situated on the south coast of the Isle of Great Cumbrae. More specifically, the bay is located on the east side of Millport.
Here you can enjoy the beautiful golden sands with crystal clear waters in a peaceful atmosphere. Again, it is the perfect place to catch views over to the Isle of Arran.
Millport is the busy and cheerful hub of the Isle of Cumbrae. At Millport, you can soak up the charm of the Victorian Promenade with the amazing collection of seaside-themed boutiques, pubs, ice cream parlours and eateries.
Location: Crocodile Rock
Crocodile Rock is one of Cumbrae’s most beloved landmarks and dominates Millport’s shoreline.
The rock itself has been around for millions of years, it was not until about 100 years ago when the famous face started to be painted on it. In 1913, a local man named Robert Brown was returning from the pub and painted the crocodile face on the rock.
The ‘croc rock‘ is painted by local heritage groups every few years, keeping its mischievous grin alive.
For more than a century the rock has thrilled locals and tourists for generations. In 2013, a massive party was held to celebrate the rock’s centennial.
Visiting the rock is free. You can easily spot it from Millport Beach.
Location: The Wedge
The Wedge is Britain’s narrowest house which measures at 47 inches wide. Also, the unique house has an amazing location as it is the centre of Millport.
Unfortunately, it is privately owned therefore you cannot go inside. Interestingly, the house gets narrower at the back and is shaped like a wedge, hence the name.
Previously, The Wedge held the title for the narrowest house in the world. However, in 2008 the ‘Heret House’ in Warsaw, Poland claimed the title as the width of the house is slightly narrower at 32 inches wide.
The Wedge can be viewed from the main street in Millport right next to Round Island Cafe.
Cathedral of the Isles
Location: The Cathedral of the Isles
The Cathedral of the Isles is one of the two cathedrals in the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles. Interestingly, the cathedral also holds a record for being Britain’s smallest cathedral.
Also, the cathedral is beautifully constructed as it is created with Gothic Revival architectural style. One of the leading Gothic revival architects, William Butterfield, designed the cathedral which opened in 1851.
The cathedral is located in the town of Millport and it is only a five minute walk from the shorefront. Also, the grounds and building are beautiful from the outside, therefore it is a good spot for a picnic on a nice day.
Location: Garrison House
Garrison House is a striking Gothic building which is home to the Museum of Cumbraes and Garrison House Cafe. Also, the house is located just across the road from the Cathedral of the Isles.
The house was built in 1745 to house the captain and officers of the Revenue Cutter Royal George stationed in Millport.
Some of the exhibits are extremely interesting. For example, you can see some archaeological finds and learn the thrilling stories of the smugglers from the 18th century.
Location: Fintry Bay
Fintry (Fintray) Bay is approximately two kilometres northwest of Millport. The bay is a very popular stop for cyclists and walkers.
Also, you will get a chance to admire the great views across the Clyde towards Bute. Also, the rich rand sand is scattered with large flat stones which are lovely to sit and relax during a rest stop.
Across the road you can stop at the amazing Fintry Bay Cafe. The Fintry Bay Cafe is a brilliant place to stop for lunch and an ice cream.
Also, you can chill on one of the hammocks or pallet loungers. In addition, the place is very well decorated with groovy parasols and colourful cushions.
Aird Hill is the main summit in the southwest of the Isle of Cumbrae and it is located in the north of Great Cumbrae. The peak is 48 metres high and is southwest of Millport.
Robertson Museum and Aquarium
Robertson Museum and Aquarium is a perfect place to learn about the aqua wildlife in the waters surrounding Isle of Cumbrae.
Here you can learn about the fascinating underwater world and history of the marine station on the Isle of Cumbrae.
The museum is open from 11 am to 4 pm daily. Entry for adults costs £2.50.
Newton Beach sits on the seafront at Millport. Also, the beach is well known for the silvery wide sands and amazing views over the Clyde.
This amazing beach is highly rated and has a Beach Award from Keep Scotland Beautiful. In addition, it is a perfect spot to unwind, enjoy the views of Clyde Estuary and Little Cumbrae.
Isle of Cumbrae Distillers
Location: Isle of Cumbrae Distillers
The distillery is a fairly new gin distillery, being launched in September 2019. The gin itself has flavours of lavender, fresh island bramble and a hint of sweet orange.
The distillers who work here are all female. Therefore, the staff at Isle of Cumbrae Distillers are part of the few all female distilling teams in Scotland.
One of the first products was called ‘Nostal Gin’ which embodies the heritage of Millport. Also, the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers released their second gin in April 2021 and named ‘Crock Rock’ after the island’s iconic Crocodile Rock.
The Glaidstone Viewpoint is located near the north point of the island. At the top you will get breathtaking panoramic views of the island, the waters of the Clyde, and mainland Scotland.
Also, on a clear day you can see as far out as Ailsa Craig. The peak is 127 metres high.
You can find Glaidstone as part of the Inner Circle Walk. Altogether it takes about forty minutes to reach the peak walking from Millport town.
HMS Shearwater Monument
The HMS Shearwater Monument commemorates two midshipmen who tragically lost their lives when they drowned in the bay in 1844. The monument was erected by Captain Robinson and Officers of HMS Shearwater.
Also, the HMS Shearwater has a massive history, being built in Harwich in 1827.
It was launched as a Post Office Steam Packet called Dolphin before being acquired by the Royal Navy. In 1844 two young midshipmen from the shearwater lost their lives whilst out on a small bored sailing boat.
The Indian Rock is another rock on the Isle of Cumbrae with a painting on it. Also, the rock is located on the west side of the island.
In addition, the rock can be seen from the road that connects Fintry Bay to the Hush Hush. It is believed the face was painted by a local called Fern Andy who used to sell ferns on the island in the 1920s.
The Cumbrae Sensory Trail
The Cumbrae Sensory Trail is a rewarding and fulfilling trail around the island which showcases the best of the island’s nature. Some things to keep an eye out for are sandy bays, pebble beaches, sealife, beautiful scenery and wildlife.
There are five coastal locations where the trails stop at. These stops are Farland Point, Ballochmartin Bay, White Bay, Fintry Bay and Sheriff Port.
Little Cumbrae is a small island located south of the Isle of Great Cumbrae in the River Clyde.
Also, Little Cumbrae is also known as ‘Wee Cumbrae‘, it is one of the five Islands of the Clyde. The tiny inhibited island has been pretty much impossible to reach for years.
Wee Cumbrae is 1.8 miles long and 0.9 miles wide. There is so much for the inquisitive traveller to see.
Famous landmarks include Little Cumbrae Lighthouse, Little Cumbrae Castle, the Bel Stane, Gertrude Jekyll Gardens and a number of caves around the shore. In addition, there are waterfalls, chapels, tombs and a Victorian mansion house.
To get to the wee island you can get a sea tour from the Clyde Charters.
Tickets cost £30 per person. Once you get to the island you only have four hours to explore.
How do you get to the Isle of Cumbrae?
To get to the Isle of Cumbrae from Mainland Scotland you can take a ferry. The ferry leaves Largs and takes you to the ferry slip on the Isle of Cumbrae.
The ferry costs £3.50 per person and the journey is ten minutes long.
Can you walk around Cumbrae?
You can easily walk around the Isle of Cumbrae. Most people can see the island in one long day.
The island is essentially one big ten-mile loop. To walk the circumference of the island without stoping it will take three hours and 15 minutes.
Cycling, driving and walking around the Isle of Cumbrae is a perfect way to see the island. I would recommend only spending a day on the island.
Also, during your visit make you stop at the amazing bays, the Victorian village of Millport and some of the uniquely decorated rocks.
Make sure you are prepared for your road trip. A tank full of petrol, plenty of water, nice comfortable shoes as well as a phone full of battery are the main things you need for a road trip.