If you can’t find a pub cat, find a picture of a shark. I think that’s the rule.

Foreign travel is always thrilling for the pub ticker, and the Caledonian Macbrayne ferry to Great Cumbrae (pop. 1376) is no exception.

Don’t forget your passport tetanus jab” said Duncan.


Action shot

No bar on board, even though it’s a ten minute journey. Opportunity wasted for thirsty Glaswegians.

The retiredmartin family stayed in Largs in 2001, when cheap flights (free for infants) saw us pop from Stansted to Prestwick several times for Ayrshire sand and ice cream.

I have a recollection of steaming a pushchair round the island back then, to Mrs RM’s irritation. This time I took the bus into Milport, which was very lazy but gave me plenty of time to capture ALL of Cumbrae’s highlights for you.

Except Alligator Rock, apparently.

A lady on the bus, returning from a shopping expedition to the mainland which seemed to consist entirely of white Morrison’s bread, talked excitedly about the Garrison.

The Garrison

Actually, she talked excitedly about the café in the Garrison, which houses an impressive (i.e. free) social history museum.

There’s a few beachy stretches, but the Guardian reading Home Counties families come to let their Emilies and Toms play on rocks.

Loved rocks when I was five

And that was the odd thing. On 20 August, one of the hottest day of the year, Scottish schoolchildren were already back learning deep-frying skills, leaving Scotland’s treasure to the English. The ferry timetable was already Off-Peak. In August.

Only one vehicle passed me in an hour.

The national sport on Cumbrae

If Millport was in England it would be Romney Marsh, I guess. Simple pleasures, bit remote.

You can see pretty much all of Millport in this shot

I didn’t notice much change in 20 years, though some invaders from Paisley had left their mark following a Millport v St Mirren friendly.

What phone boxes were invented for

And I guess the internet is new, though I couldn’t get it to work in Frasers, the alluring GBG entry.

Owner called Fraser ?

The guy that I shall call Fraser, who came over to offer me the WiFi code, was a cheery star and one of the best adverts for a pub this year.

Rare shot of cask being pulled in Scotland

And Frasers is a professionally run pub with widespread appeal. There were even some Australians, trying to hide from Jofra Archer.


Especially appealing for people with hats and Hi-Vis.

Hat of the day

On the downside, Mumford and Sons accompanied (another) Kelburn that improved from a poor start before stalling at NBSS 2.


And that was Cumbrae, though the painting of the Royal George looked more compelling than the actual pubs.


Would I ever return to Great Cumbrae ?


  1. Has Simon seen that ‘Hat of the day’ photo? Because that seems just the thing to go with some of the clothing choices he’s made over the years.

    I wonder if cask was once more popular in Scotland than it is now. Interesting that you can get Scotch whisky all over the world but the same can’t be said of English style beer– that must please the Scots to no end. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll share that photo with Simon.

      I guess Scotch whisky is more portable and high value and a different product to Jack Daniels etc.

      Duncan and the Mudgies will have a better view, but I doubt cask has been the default in 40 years or more.

      When I first started visiting the big cities local cask (Deuchars particularly) seemed much more popular than it is now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mark,
        It’s a very long time since Real Ale, in the sense of unpressurised beer, was the norm in Scotland.
        A seventy year old book reports “Air-Pressure is much favoured in Scotland”.
        Another book, probably older, under “Scottish Compressed Air System” reports “There are other systems in which CO2 or compressed air is used for forcing the beer up from the cellars without the use of beer pumps. This method is generally used in Scotland.”


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