7 Apr 2010

Escape to the Isle of Cumbrae

Let’s just go. We could. The ferry is here, waiting for us. To cross the water from Largs takes just ten minutes. We could go.

Let’s not take the car. What’s the point? The island is only four miles long, and everything we’ve read tells us the best way to travel here is on foot or by bicycle. I can feel myself slowing down already, can you?

If you don’t want to walk into Millport Bay we can dig out change for the bus and just relax. On a sun-drenched day like today it is like stepping out into a postcard.

Sheltered from the wind, a quaint harbour with bobbing boats, a sandy beach, and children clamouring over rocks between bites of picnic lunches and bouts of crazy golf. In the distance the mountains of Arran loom down, later oozing through the haze of the afternoon, when the evaporating tide creates a sheen on the beach.
We can walk up and down the main street, trying to decide what to have for lunch and watching the gulls fight for scraps of hotdog buns or stolen chips.

Sure, we may have to ask three times for directions to the location of Britain’s Narrowest House, only to realize later we had walked right past it. But it’s not like we’re in a rush.

We can stand in front of it, wondering at its Roald Dahl squishiness, like it is a younger brother trying to squeeze between his larger siblings for a photo.
After lunch we can sit for awhile on crocodile rock and watch the sailboats sweep past in the distance. Then I’ll ask you to take a hike with me, to the top of one of the hills so we can look out over the whole world which is this tiny island.

Vikings stayed here once, did you know that? After snatching the Hebrides back from Alexander III of Scotland, King Håkon (they called him Haakon the Old) launched his attack on Largs as he tried to keep control of Norway’s medieval kingdom. Alas it was no good, and eventually his great leidang fleet was driven back to Orkney, where Håkon died on 16 December, 1263.
Once we have walked and eaten and heaved ourselves up tall hills and watched the sailboats and played the crazy golf and sworn at the gulls and just sat, looking and not thinking at all, we can turn around and go home again. We can hop the bus and clamour back onto the ferry, stand on the deck and watch the harbour at Largs grow large on the horizon.

We could go. Do you want to?

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