|To:||Cumbrae Slip (NS182579)|
|Distance:||1.9 miles (3.1 km)|
|Route outline (key)|
The B899 provides the direct route from Cumbrae's main town of Millport to the ferryport on the island's eastern shore. The road was originally unclassified (there were no classified roads on Cumbrae in the 1922 Road Lists) but appears to have gained its number early on: the B899 is the first B8xx number following the original allocations.
The road starts on the B896 coast road in Millport, the capital of Great Cumbrae and the only settlement of any size, on the island's south coast. The junction is barely signed, and easy to miss as the B899 forks off the main B896 and cuts through a gap between terraces at the head of the bay. It then heads northeast along Kelburn Street, onto Ferry Road and soon leaves the town behind. The road climbs up a small valley away from the coast, with a surprisingly high cliff to the east and meanders through a wood to the road's summit. Here an unclassified road turns off left into the hilly centre of the island (see below), and the B899 starts the brief descent towards the east coast, which is already visible. It's not long before a T-junction is met, back on the B896 which has taken a longer but flatter route to get here. Turn left for the ferryport.
It may seem as though this shorter route from town to ferry would be the busier road, but as it is generally narrower and twistier than the coast road, traffic seems to be fairly evenly split. The bus follows the coast, and naturally other large vehicles seem to follow the easier route. There is, after all, just a mile difference between the two, and in reality this probably only equates to a minute of travelling.
Barbay Hill Road
The unclassified road that climbs up and over Barbay Hill is a must for any visitor to the island. A small parking area just below the summit of the island offers panoramic views in all directions, and on a quiet spring day it can feel like you are all alone as you soak in the amazing views. From the ferry, take the B899 Ferry Road, and then double back on the unclassified road just beyond the farm. This winds up through fields, climbing steadily before the trigpoint comes into view ahead. A small lochan lies nestled in the undulations of the field to the east, as the road loops round the summit and starts to descend once more.
A couple of bends later, another smaller lochan appears behind trees, with an old cottage picturesquely reflected in the gently rippled water. The road soon straightens up and enjoys a long drop down towards Millport, suddenly doubling back around a farmyard before reaching a fork. To the left, the road drops back to the southern end of the B899, whilst to the right it runs down past the islands diminutive Cathedral into the town centre, meeting the B896 in the middle of the bay.