Sunday, 21 July 2013
Millport. Walks on Great Cumbrae.
I've always been of the opinion that Scotland and the UK as a whole has a near perfect climate.
We get properly defined seasons; we get very few droughts or wildfires, infrequent heat waves that occasionally last weeks not months, abundant rain to keep things green and glorious year round and fairly mild winters which are just cold enough at present to kill off any of the really nasty bugs.
Our insects and animals may bite and scratch but apart from sheep ticks carrying a potentially fatal disease we have no natural born people killers in the great outdoors. Even adders, are seldom seen by the public and will only bite if threatened. The venom of the UK's only poisonous snake is mild compared to other toxic snakes in other parts of the world and is only dangerous to the very young or elderly.
So what have we really got to complain about when it comes down to it? We don't get swallowed whole if we swim in the sea ,get chewed pulpy by big predators if we travel away from urban areas and we don't normally find our loved ones halfway down a monster reptile when we return from the shops. No bugs here start eating us from the inside out as we are having breakfast by a tropical lagoon. Maybe we just like a good moan but a spell of unaccustomed heat here can help to put things like that into perspective. Would you really like it hotter than this, or for several weeks longer every year while at work? We would need air conditioning just to survive the summer.
was our goal. Alex was asked if he wanted to come... 'no Corbetts on Great Cumbrae'... blah, blah, blah. So he stayed in his dark box in the toy cupboard sheltering from the heat. Bad teddy! It's more fun with three.
Once on the island we let the bus full of day-trippers heading for Millport depart then set off on foot from the pier, following signposted tracks over Horse Hill to reach Ballochmartin farm and then The Glaid Stone, reached via the yellow minor road. An alternative easier route is to stay on the main coastal road then head up the obvious minor roads to reach the same place. Honeysuckle and elderberry flowers adorned the hedgerows all the way up this scenic strip of tarmac. At any time of year its one of the prettiest surfaced roads anywhere. This leads up to the highpoint of the island at 127 metres with a trig point and observation viewfinder in the form of a circular disc. And what a view. We were glad we had thought of having an early start as it had not turned 11:00 am yet. Sea breezes arrived just when we needed them and the walking across the island was excellent. The neighbouring island of Arran was buried in sea mist when we arrived but a few hours later it had burned off to leave just a few weird doughnut shaped clouds draped over the sharp peaks of its mountainous interior.
The meandering walk down into Millport itself, the island's only town and tourist resort is always a delight.
We visited The Cathedral of the Isles first, the UK's smallest cathedral at 100 seats, though it always looks impressive enough inside, then descended further into the town itself. There was a sign up on the door of this building. 'Please close door behind you, swallows will come into the cathedral and may injure themselves if you don't.' The peaceful vibe of island life. We could hear their soft twittering voices on the power lines above us so different from the bold piercing scream of the swift. The skies above Great Cumbrae had both birds in abundance.
I've mentioned before on this blog about certain fashionable, so called 'remote areas' being really crowded at peak times compared to how I remember them but Bute and Great Cumbrae never fail me. Only two folk met walking across the hills, a young couple, and an older couple with a car at the trig point who were having a week long holiday here. That was it.
We must have passed about 40 all speaking Italian along with two Spanish couples, a young polish family and, I think, Belgian? Anyway, maybe it's just we Scots who seem to have forgotten how nice, quirky and unique this small island still is?