Journeys 2019

An Island Idyll: Cumbrae, Bute and Arran (Full)

West Scotland


Monday 22nd - Saturday 27th July




£600 for single occupancy, discounted to £540 for a shared (twin) room when booked with a friend or partner. Please note on the booking form the name of the person you will be sharing with.


The Isle of Cumbrae, also known as Great Cumbrae, lies on the Ayrshire coast and is roughly four miles long and two miles wide. Just a short ferry trip from Largs, Cumbrae is regarded as Scotland's most accessible island. The only settlement is Millport a seaside town with a Victorian promenade which curves around an attractive hilly bay on the south coast. Millport is home to Britain's smallest cathedral, the Cathedral of the Isles, which will be our home for the holiday. For those who wish, we will join in the worship at the cathedral, along with a series of our own daily reflections.

Bute lies close to Cumbrae - a very pretty island with a mixture of green fields and the rugged rock formations characteristic of the Highland Boundary Fault which marks the collision of continents from North and South millions of years ago and runs through this area. Bute's farmers used to be the main suppliers of milk and beef and vegetables to Glasgow. Rothesay is a pretty little seaside town still popular with holidaymakers.

Arran lies slightly south and is said to contain all the features of the iconic Scottish landscape within its shores: Scotland in miniature - an almost Munro, moorland, caves, woods and pretty little villages.

On all these islands there is a strong sense of the layers of communities that have lived and worshipped and worked here and we will enjoy pauses to explore this and to learn something of the history and spirituality of the people here.

Walks and Excursions

Scottish weather has a mind of its own and our excursions will be adapted to the conditions. Even though we are in high summer, it is wise to bring, along with light summer clothes, some very waterproof outerwear, a couple of warm items and good walking boots just in case. Midge repellant will vastly increase your comfort!

We plan a couple of pleasant walks on Cumbrae, one day along the very pretty coastline, foraging on the beaches and enjoying a picnic lunch by the sea (swimming for the hardy!) and another exploring the higher ground in the centre with superb views of Arran and Bute and the mainland.

There are bikes and helmets for hire for those who want to do a quick circuit of the island at any point (10 1/4 miles).

The PS Waverley is the only ocean-going paddle steamer left in the world, and it spends its summer season travelling between the islands. We will enjoy a trip from Cumbrae to Bute where we will spend a few hours exploring, before we catch it on its return run to Cumbrae. On another day the Cumbrae Sunshine Community Bus will take us from Cumbrae to Largs via the ferry, down the coast to Ardrossan then across to Arran where we will spend a day exploring.

The coastal walk on Cumbrae is graded Long in distance and Easy in terrain, the other walks are Medium distance and Moderate terrain.


5 Nights in the College of the Holy Spirit, built originally as a seminary for the training of Episcopal priests, now providing simple, homely twin and single rooms, a number en suite, 2 sitting rooms and a library for our use. Full board is provided, with packed lunches for our day excursions.

An art room is available for anyone who wants to record their experiences or simply play!

Getting there

Train, bus or car to Largs (via Glasgow). Ferry close to the station, leaves every 20 minutes, and takes 10 minutes for the crossing. 20 minutes' walk to the College but we can collect you from the ferry if you let us know your arrival time.


Paddy Allen (01369 705458 / 07810746121 and Rosemary Clarke