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Sailing from Brodick, Isle of Arran to Millport, Great Cumbrae

Unfortunately, because of a north westerly wind which barrelled down from Goat Fell into Brodick Bay, we had endured a horrible night on one of the free mooring buoys on the Isle of Arran. As the wind was not due to ease or change direction for a few days we made the decision to move on and find somewhere a little more sheltered.

Our destination was Millport on Great Cumbrae which surprisingly also offers FREE mooring buoys courtesy of North Ayrshire council. (June 2024).

Departing just before noon we raised the main to the first reefing point however we quickly realised that the gusts coming off of the mountain range were quite violent. Not wanting to feel too overpowered we opted to drop to the second reefing point, a decision we were glad we did.


Our sail across was rather breezy with an average wind speed of 20 knots from the north-west, gusting up to around 25 knots. With our reefed main and a touch of head sail she was sailing along nicely at an average of 5 knots, and despite the stronger wind the sea state was not overly bad. Traffic out in the Clyde was very quiet, passing just one fishing boat on our travels.

Kayleigh M Fishing Vessel in the Firth of Clyde

Initially we had intended a route up the west side of Little Cumbrae but with the wind as it was we could nicely curve our way up, eventually passing Little Cumbrae to the east. However it was at this point that the wind completely died off and we needed to motor the last couple of miles.

Please be aware that a new breakwater has recently been installed as part of the Millport Coastal Flood Prevention Scheme. This runs between the South Eilean and two of the smaller islets, The Spoig and The Leug. This new breakwater still wasn’t showing on Navionics as of June 2024 and our onboard chart plotter is even older so that was of no help!

Free Mooring Buoys in Millport!

At 3.00pm, after a sail of 13.6 nautical miles, we picked up one of the free mooring buoys in Millport. The buoys are situated southeast of the pier and are clearly marked as visitors. They are blue with a pick up and also have a hoop on top to allow for an additional line. There are approximately 15 available for up to three days stay.

There is a colony of seals that live on the surrounding Eileans and at low tide they can often be seen sunbathing by the water’s edge!

Seals chillin’ in Millport

Going ashore there are a couple of options for landing a dinghy. There is a concrete slipway where you can take the dinghy up out of the water. Next to this is a small sandy beach area where many local ribs and tenders permanently tie up. Or you can make off to one of the metal rings, ladder or handrails by the steps in the inner corner of the pier. Please note that some fishing boats tie up to this pier so do allow them plenty of room. And don’t forget the rise and fall of the tide! Further along the beach is another stone jetty which also has some rings you can tie up to.

Dinghies and Tenders tied up in Millport

There is a water tap just by the pier clock however the only bins we could locate were standard street bins, not really suitable for disposing of a full rubbish bag! But good to see both our EE and Smarty networks had good coverage here.

Millport is a small little village. There is a Premier shop which closes at 7.00pm and a convenience store/newsagent which closes at 8.00pm. Between both these shops you should be able to stock up on basics and the Premier surprisingly had a good range of fruit and veg, local butchers produce and frozen products, with many affordable items available from ‘Jack’s Range’, part of Tesco’s.

Highly recommended is ‘Deep Sea Fish and Chip Shop’ next to the pier which served us a cracking battered sausage and chips, though we opted to give the battered, deep fried pizza a miss! And if you’re after a quaint little beer garden then head along the seafront to the Tavern Pub – super friendly staff and good beer!

Ferry to Largs

Leaving the boat on her mooring we hoped on the bus (bus stop at the pier) to Cumbrae Slip (£3.50 return per adult) to catch the ferry across the water to Largs on the mainland. This short trip costs £4 per adult return (Caledonian MacBrayne) and takes around 10 minutes.

Loch Bhrusda – Caledonian MacBrayne- arriving into Largs

Largs is a popular seaside town with a Victorian promenade and traditional shops, restaurants and ice cream parlours, plus a Wetherspoon’s pub! Here you will also find a Morrisons supermarket along with a handful of well known high street shops.

A 1.5 mile stroll along the beautiful seafront takes you to Largs Yacht Haven, one of Scotland’s largest marinas, where you will find a chandlery and a number of boating related companies.

And if you fancy venturing further afield, as we did, the bus costs £6 for an adult day rider and will take you as far north as Port Glasgow. We opted to stop at Weymss Bay and check out the railway station, noted for its architectural qualities and category A listed status. Winner of the 2023 World Cup of Stations and awarded five stars in Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations, Weymss Bay Station was completed in 1903 and is a terminus on the Inverclyde Line, incorporating the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal connecting mainland Scotland to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.

After this we hopped back on the bus which took us the scenic route via Gourock before we decided to disembark at Greenock where we stocked up on some essentials. Here you will find a number of supermarkets including Morrisons, Aldi ,Tesco’s, Lidl and Iceland and some well known high street shops.

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