August Bank Holiday is traditionally an island hopping weekend if you’re a scooterist, with the Isle of Wight being the official BSRA destination and preferred choice for many (we’ll bring you a full report on ‘The big Wight one’ later this week). However, for the last 10 years Millport on the small but perfectly formed Scottish island of Cumbrae has been slowly building in numbers and popularity. This year almost 1000 scooterists arrived over the weekend.
Cumbrae is a pretty little Scottish island (pictured in the centre of the top photo above). It’s easily reached in just 15 minutes by ferry from the port of Largs on the west coast. Getting there is cheap and easy, just turn up at the ferry port (you don’t book in advance), buy a ticket and get on the next ferry (they run every 30 minutes). Unlike those Solent-based pirates, Cal Mac ferries actually halve their fares for the rally weekend so it costs just over £9 for a scooter and rider.
1998 NSRA National
My last visit to Millport was way back in 1998 for an NSRA rally, held during the dying days of the old Jeff Smith-headed National Scooter Riders Association. Back then we had eight or nine National Rallies a year and a few club events to choose from during the quiet times. These days we’re spoilt for choice, there is no ‘quiet’ time and the scene has become more regionalised/diluted as a result. Over the Bank Holiday weekend there were another two scooter events on in Scotland, not to mention the big ones on the Isle of Wight and in Brighton, plus at least half a dozen local English events.
The Millport rally has been revived over the last 10 years by a group of Scottish scooterists, with Alex and Karen (of Carnaby Clothing fame) and Karen Lynch/Biscuity Boyle being the main culprits/organisers.
For us, Millport was a handy last minute stopover on our way back from 10 days of camping around Scotland, giving us a chance to finish off our holiday and meet up with a few friends from England, Scotland and Belgium.
Typical Scottish weather accompanied most people to the rally on Friday, lashing torrential rain may have dampened riders but certainly not spirits, as the town centre campsite and venue filled up nicely. A good mixture of Scottish and English (plus four Belgian) scooterists were in attendance, with 35 members of York SC and 27 Billingham A19’s boosting numbers considerably.
Marquee-style rallies aren’t everybody’s cup of tea but Millport’s posh tent had a proper floor and was big enough for everybody, without being too huge to lose the atmosphere. Nobody’s Heroes kicked the live music off with a good set of covers dedicated to fallen Scottish scooterist, Caldo. The band sounded good, although the acoustics in the yet-to-fill tent swallowed their talents a bit.
The good thing about Millport is that the town is very compact so everything is located within half a mile along the seafront. There are just a handful of welcoming pubs, a couple of chip shops, a restaurant and The Garrison grounds which are used for the rally campsite and venue.
Saturday was hot enough to see locals pointing at the unfamiliar object in the sky and covering new freckles in hastily bought calamine lotion. It was scorchio, meaning plenty of day-trippers flocked to the island. It’s cheap enough to pop over to Millport just for the day.
If ever there was an event where modern retro scooters can be found in abundance Millport has to be it. Aside from the usual array of GTS and Scomadis, there were also plenty of modded-up AJS Modenas, Neco Abruzzi, the odd Peugeot Django and even a few Honda PCX’s. There were also plenty of ‘L’ plates on display, whether that’s because there are more new/young or born again riders in Scotland or because the police are a bit stricter up there I’m not sure, but it was noticeable for sure. Talking of police, one lad from Manchester was stopped on the way there and hit with a £100 on-the-spot fine for having a small number plate on his GTS…
Going back to the younger side of scootering, there were certainly plenty of teenagers and early 20s youngsters at the rally and riding around town. One of them, 22 year old ‘Big Shaun’ gives us his take on the rally further down this page.
These newbies and day-trippers boosted the ride out (or ride around as the case may be) numbers considerably as they set off for a lap of the island. It’s less than ten miles around the coastline of Cumbrae and it is pretty stunning with views to nearby Arran, other local islands and the mainland.
Once the ride around was back in town any scooters parked along the seafront were fair game for the custom show judges. Amongst the winners were Toby’s Valentino Rossi-themed street racer (pictured below and ridden from Bridlington), as well as a young lads’ lovely burgundy Primavera (sprayed by dad in the shed), other scooters to catch my eye and take home a trophy were a stunning silver Vespa GS, a Bonnie & Clyde themed full-custom Vespa and a few other tasty machines, including a matching pair of his ‘n’ hers Series ones (pictured above).
Charity and remembrance
During the weekend it was hard to miss Gavin Rosie, he almost had my eyes out with his literally eye-catching five-pronged mohican. Ulster Skin, Gavin was raising money for Sense Scotland, a charity that helps to purchase pinball machines (I think) for deaf and blind kids. With almost £1000 raised he allowed his beloved spikes to be shaved off on Sunday afternoon during the charity afternoon. Aside from those donations, Size of a Camel S.C also raised £372 by dressing as disturbed looking Wizard of Oz characters and collecting money over the weekend, their fund raising went towards local schools on the island.
That wasn’t the only charitable act though, Dunf of Dunf Quality Rebuilds (we featured his beautiful 152L2 restoration here) had been busy crafting a unique memorial bench for two Scottish scooterists who have died doing what they loved over the last couple of years.
Made in Scotland from girders, the bench was unveiled at the rally and will take pride of place at the Garrison building in Millport. It’s a great way to remember Goody and Caldo.
For us the weekend was over and it was time to continue our Scottish holiday elsewhere. The party continued in Millport though with a Sunday disco themed night in one of the friendly local bars. If you’re up north next August and fancy a great alternative weekend to the normal events, Millport is well organised, well attended and has everything a seaside scooter rally needs.
Words and photos: Iggy
Big Shaun on Millport
I had already planned on doing Millport on the Vespbretta, but a few weeks beforehand I was asked to make trophies for the custom show by Karen. I raked through the scrap parts bins at home to find Vespa and Lambretta parts to make the trophies. So Friday morning arrives and I left on the chop from Dumfries heading for Largs, it started off with a dry ride but 15 miles in I was hit with rain! Which on a chop wasn’t very pleasant, everything was going well though until I was half way round a roundabout and it cut out me but luckily enough I was on the roundabout for Morrisons at Stevenston.
I knew I had to get vodka for Chelsea (my girlfriend who was riding from Wishaw) on checking my phone I’d received a text saying she had come off her LML in the wet. So I made my way into Morrisons, trying to get in contact with Chelsea but with no answer I was hoping for the best and that she’d jumped back on the scoot and carried on. With vodka and WD-40 in hand I went back out to the chop, hoping to get it going. After covering my electrics in WD-40 and filling up with fuel I carried on with 16 miles left to Largs. Luckily, when I pulled up to the port a ferry had just docked. Unbeknown to me Chelsea and I were on the same ferry, so I made my way down to make sure see was ok! She was all good but shaken up.
Now we’d both made it to the island all I could think of was Buckfast! Once our crew had arrived we headed to the marquee to watch Nobodies Heroes. But by this point I had sunk two bottles of Buckfast and can’t remember much of the band.
On the bench
Saturday morning had arrived and I made my way to help out on the gate and help Karen with the stall when I was approached by Dunf to help him lift the memorial bench he’d made in memory or Goody and Coldo. With me already having had a drink I never made the ride out but early afternoon Dogtooth took to the stage and as always a great performance from the young lads.
With the custom show being announced and me having no clue what the reg of my chop was, unknown to me I’d won Best Rat. Now for the unveiling of the bench! Which brought a tear to my eye and I’m sure it did to many others as well, following the unveiling the people’s poet (BJ) gave a poem in memory of Goody, Coldo and Stu who have all been a part of my scootering life. On a brighter note it was time for more Buckfast, with XSLF taking to stage at 6 o’clock was great, later on it was the Kinks Experience, which I heard also gave a great performance. Great DJ’s finished off the night on a high and then the reality of the big dreaded walk back to the caravan site hit me! Great banter with Chelsea and my good mate Shaun Scally made the hike easier. Sunday morning hits and none of us are in a fit state to leave before 3:30, which followed a breakdown from Bongo from Bellshill, which meant I had to get the tools out. We narrowed it down to her coil breaking down, but luckily I had a new coil in my tool bag. So we cracked on and got in just after 7, which meant grub! All in all a great weekend with great company and topped off with a trophy!
Rallery by Iggy