ISLE OF CUMBRAE.

CHAPTER I.

VIEW OF MILLPORT AND ITS SURROUNDINGS.

THERE are few watering-places in the Firth of Clyde which have proved more winsome and attractive than Millport, in the Isle of Cumbrae. As the visitor from Largs or Fairlie approaches the pier by steamboat, he finds himself in the bossom of a deep sunny bay, which faces the south and delights the eye with a beautiful picture of green engirdling hills and lofty red cliffs. The general features of the scene are singularly pleasing and varied. Within the two wing-like promontories which, on east and west, enfold the waters of the bay, lie a number of sheltering rock-islets; and the innermost shore-line presents a beautiful arrangement of fine bathing sands, which are separated or intersected by picturesque dispositions of rock. The houses of the village hug the shore, --every one as radiant as summer sunshine and beautiful white stone can make it. The more recently built villas bend round the sinuosities of the bays or adorn the terraced heights; while over all a number of handsome churches crown the scene, imparting beauty and dignity to it by their noble presence. A sloping background of well-tilled fields and green hills give fine effect to the harmonious blending of all the more salient features of the landscape, and the seas-side portion of the picture presents an animated spectacle of happy juveniles, disporting on the sands or plunging into the clear waters of the briny bath. Seared yachts and yawls are cruising about, and look like lovely sea-birds skimming the main, while a scattered multitude of little boats, filled with happy occupants, are paddling about the bay or moving gaily around the islets. On a fine summer afternoon or evening the scene is superb, and becomes all the more so when the tall red cliffs of the Farland glow like burnished bronze as the western sun throws its full blaze of light upon them. Farther away, but in fine weather always clearly visible, are the lofty sky-piercing peaks of the two great Goatfells in Arran, the towering horn of Keervohr and the majestic pike of Greenan Ahval in the same island; Torr-mor and Suy Blane in the south of Bute; Ailsa Craig in the far distance, rising loftily above the waves like a vast conical watch-tower; and Holy Island, or Melansey, near Lamlash. In the nearer foreground, as one looks southward, rises the finely trap-terraces and crag-adorned Isle of Little Cumbrae, or Wee Cumra, its eastern shore guarded by a strong and well-preserved ancient castle. Over against this grim old fortalice, but on a rocky ness or point of the Ayrshire coast, stands a castle of similar age and build--the old castle of Pencorse, or Portcrosch--once the residence of royalty, and long held by a noble ayrshire family of the name of Ross.
Between this castle-crowned promontary and the lofty ridge of the Kaim Hill above Fairlie, a landscape of unrivalled beauty unfolds itself to the eye of the observer, and is daily seen, as from the most favourable view-point, from the shores of Cumbrae. To the left or east of the old weather-word castle on the point there is a prominent hill crowned with a vitrified fort, and designated Auld-hill--a probable contraction for Aulbury-hill. A little farther to the left, as the coast tends northwards, the eye rests upon the lofty and picturesque cliffs of Ardneil--a name which signifies the hill or promontory of the precipice. Following in the same direction we have next a fine view of the beautiful hills and tree-clad slopes of Goldenberry, or Goudenbury--a Norse compound denoting the heroes' camp.
HUNTERSTON House--stands on the lower grounds of the King's hunters--stands on the lower grounds which form its own proper demesne, and looks out upon the waters of the firth from its green environment of woods. Paltreath is its ancient name, and the fact becomes the more interesting when we see that it signifies the chieftain's residence. The green hills in the distance, to the back of Hunterston, lie along the eastern side of the parish of West Kilbride. Caldron-gattel is the name of one of the summits, and signifies the burying-place of the Celtic chiefs--the cairns being still intact. It is well seen over the Red Farland crag as one stands on the eastern slope of Trahoun-hill, near the public school. Kaim Hill is the much higher ridge, which is seen farther to the left, its height being 1270 feet. St. Annan's chapel site and the charming village of Fairlie lie at the foot of its green slopes, but are not visible from the station at Trahoun.

 


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