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Largs and Great Cumbrae Island

The visitor guide to Largs and Great Cumbrae Island in Ayrshire has information and details about and around the place, including sleeping and eating in Largs, ferries, accommodation and Hotels In Largs.

Phone code: +44 (0)1475

The most attractive town on the North Ayrshire coast is the resort of Largs, backed by high wooded hills and facing the island of Great Cumbrae, a few miles offshore and reached by ferry from Largs. The town is not only a traditional family holiday centre, but its extensive marina is popular with yachties, and the home to Sportscotland National Centre at Inverclyde, Tel 674666, which hosts numerous national indoor competitions. The bus and train stations are next to each other on Main St, a short walk from the ferry pier. There are hourly trains to and from Glasgow Central (1 hr. There are also hourly buses to Glasgow, and to Ayr, Ardrossan and Irvine with Stagecoach, Tel 01294-607007.

The Largs Tourist Information Centre, Tel 678100, is at Largs railway station. Apr-Jun Mon-Sat 0900-1700; Jul and Aug Mon-Sat 0900-1800, Sun 1000-1700; Sep-Oct Mon-Sat 0900-1700.

Eating Out

The Brisbane House Hotel (see above) is the best place in town for a full-blown meal. Also good is Fins Seafood Restaurant, Tel 568989, about 5 miles south of Largs on the A78. It serves great fish and seafood daily except Mon (lunch mid-range; dinner expensive). Don't leave town without visiting the legendary 'Nardini's', on the promenade. This authentic 1950s Italian café is an institution and is reckoned by some to be the best café in Scotland. It's owned by the family of the actress Daniella Nardini. The décor alone is worth the detour, but the ice cream makes this a truly magical experience. Also good Italian food and coffee. Open daily 2230 in summer.



Travel Directions to Largs and Great Cumbrae Island

Ferries leave Largs every 15 mins during the summer and every 30 mins in winter for the 10-min sailing to the slip on the northeast shore. Buses meet the ferry for the 4-mile trip to Millport. The return far is £3.15 per person and £13.35 per car, or £3.60 and £15.70 respectively at peak times. Bikes cost £2 return. For more information, contact CalMac, Tel 08705-650000, or at Largs pier, Tel 674134.

The Tourist Information Centre at 28a Stuart St, Millport, Tel 01292-678100. Easter fortnight daily 1200-1600, Apr-May Sat, Sun 1200-1600, Jun and Sep Mon-Sat 1200-1600; Jul, Aug daily 1000-1700; Oct Sat, Sun 1200-1600. Bike hire is available in Millport at Mapes & Son, 3-5 Guildford St, Tel 530444, for £4 per day.


Local Sights & Activities for Largs and Great Cumbrae Island

The award winning Vikingar! at the north end of the promenade is a multi-media exhibition which fully describes the Viking influence in Scotland, which ended with the Battle of Largs in 1263 (see below). Other facilities include a theatre and cinema, swimming pool, café, bar and gift shop. Info: Apr-Sep Mon-Fri and Sun 1030-1730, Sat 1230-1530; Oct and Mar Mon-Fri and Sun 1030-1530, Sat 1230-1530; Nov and Feb Sat 1230-1530, Sun 1030-1530. £3.80, children £2.90. Tel 689777, The Vikingar

The Battle of Largs is commemorated by the Pencil Monument, about a mile south of town along the shoreline footpath. The defeat of the Vikings by the Scots effectively marked the end of Norse sovereignty over the mainland and Western Isles.

Hidden away in Largs' Old Kirk on Bellman's Close, just off the High Street, is Skelmorlie Aisle, an absolute gem of Renaissance architecture unique in Scotland. Built in 1636 as a mausoleum for Sir Robert Montgomerie of Skelmorlie and his wife, the burial vault sits within an aisle with a richly painted timber barrel-vaulted roof. The decoration features the family coat of arms, biblical scenes and representations of the four seasons. The tomb was decorated by Scottish masons following Italian patterns and also includes the coat of arms. Info: Jun-Aug Mon-Fri 1400-1700; keys from museum next door. Free.

A few miles south of Largs on the A78 is Kelburn Castle and Country Centre, the 13th-century home of the Earls of Glasgow, which boasts a vast range of activities designed for kids. As well as the castle itself, there's a walled garden, secret forest, horse riding, adventure playground, Marine assault course and a woodland glen with a network of trails leading past waterfalls. Info: Tel 568685, The Kelburn Country Centre Easter-end-Oct daily 1000-1800. £4.50, concession £3. Guided tours of castle every afternoon from Jul to Aug, an extra £1.50 per person.Take bus 585 from Largs station.

You can also take a boat trip during July and August from Largs to Rothesay and the Kyles of Bute with Clyde Marine Cruises of Greenock, Tel 01475-721281. The old paddle steamer Waverley departs from Largs on Tuesdays during the summer, Tel 0141-2218152, to Arran and Bute. Details also available from the tourist office.

Great Cumbrae Island

Only a few minutes from Largs by ferry is the hilly island of Great Cumbrae. At only four miles long and a couple of miles wide, it's ideally suited for a day or half-day trip from Largs and is best explored on foot or by bike. Great Cumbrae is a major water sports centre and Millport beach is a popular place for windsurfing. The only settlement of any size is Millport, which is home to Europe's smallest cathedral, the beautiful Cathedral of the Isles, built in the mid-19th century. Info: Daily 1100-1600 except during services.

About a mile east of town is the Marine Life Museum, part of Glasgow University Marine Biology department, which contains an excellent aquarium. Info: Mon-Fri 0930-1215 and 1400-1645; Jul-Sep also Sat. £1.50, £0.75 children. Tel 530581.The nicest parts of the island are away from Millport and are best explored by bike. The 14-mile main road runs right round the edge of the island, or there's a narrow Inner Circle Road which passes The Glaidstone (417 ft), the highest point on the island. More information on these cycle routes is available from the TIC.

Largs and Great Cumbrae Island Hotels & Accommodation

Those who wish to splash out can try the B Brisbane House Hotel, on the seafront promenade, Tel 687200, The Brisbane House Hotel It is comfortable and offers very fine Scottish cuisine at mid-range prices. A few miles north town on the A78 is B Manor Park, an elegant Victorian country mansion offering b&b, set in 15 acres of grounds overlooking the Firth of Clyde, Tel 520832.

E St Leonards Guest House, 9 Irvine Rd, Tel 673318, stleaonards; and E-D Tigh-Na-Ligh Guest House, 104 Brisbane Rd, Tel/Fax 673975,

The cheapest place to stay is F Biscayne House, 110 Irvine Rd, Tel 672851, Biscayne House open all year, an independent hostel. There's a campsite about 4 miles north on the A78 at Skelmorlie Mains Caravan Park, Tel 520794, open Mar-Oct.


Apartment 24 :

A beautiful, first floor sea front apartment for two, situated at the north end of Apartment Largs. The balcony offers stunning sea views towards Bute and the west. Ample car parking, beautiful garden, well equipped kitchen, bedrooms have fitted wardrobes and bathroom with electric shower. No lift and access only by one flight of stairs.

Tel +44 (0)1475 675550

Next to the cathedral is E College of the Holy Spirit, Tel 530353, Argyll an Anglican retreat which offers comfortable B&B. There's also E Cir Mhor, 35 West Bay, Tel 530723. For eating you're limited to Minstrels Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tel 531080, on Cardiff St, or the wonderful Ritz Café which has been serving great ice cream, chips and cappuccino for almost a century.