Dag Pike finds a quiet bay on the Scottish island of Great Cumbrae in which to drop the pick
The approach to the Clyde is dotted with islands and on a cruise in this region you are spoilt for choice for places to anchor overnight.
One of the best spots is in the bay off the town of Millport, which is located on the island of Great Cumbrae, just a short hop across from the Scottish mainland.
Millport is a small harbour that has seen its share of ups and downs, and today the harbour and the bay are mainly a destination for yachts rather than commercial traffic.
In the past Millport was home to the revenue cutter that patrolled the approaches to the Clyde and it was also a considerable fishing port.
Then it was developed to export the high-quality stone from a local quarry and later it became a destination for the excursion steamers coming out of Glasgow on day trips. This was the main reason for extending the pier, while tucked inside is the older harbour with its stone walls.
Millport Bay is littered with small islands and rocks that provide shelter in what is almost a perfect anchorage.
Unfortunately, like many of the Scottish anchorages, mooring buoys have taken over the best places.
There is a range of visitor moorings laid in the summer inside the islands, but if you want to have a quiet night away from the crowds then it is possible to find an anchorage space either to the east of the Eilean Islands or to the west of the pier.
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Both of these areas are a bit more exposed to any wind from the south, which is probably why they have not been used for mooring buoys, but nowhere in this bay is fully exposed to any wind because you have Little Cumbrae Island providing shelter from a southerly wind. I prefer the westerly spot but it does mean identifying the small patches of drying rocks that lie offshore before heading in.
Space can be limited but you can find 5m of water close inshore.
The masts of the yachts in the boatyard give a distant clue of the location, and coming in from seaward they will be aligned with southernmost rocky patches, known as The Clach.
If you want to try your luck in the main anchorage area there are lights to guide you in between the rocky islands towards the main pier.
Payment is by an honesty box on the quay. Watch out for the submarine cable in this area.
In the summer months this is a very popular spot and perfect for day sails from mainland marinas.
Ashore, the small town has plenty of facilities, including a few shops and a number of bars and restaurants, although some are only open in the summer.
The stone-walled inner harbour dries out and suggests a lot of history.
It is home to local fishing boats and small motor craft. Further round the bay the Cathedral of the Isles, Britain’s smallest cathedral, is worth a visit.