|Gaelic name||Cumaradh Beag|
|Meaning of name||Little island of the Cymric people|
Little Cumbrae shown within North Ayrshire
|OS grid reference|
|Island group||Islands of the Clyde|
|Area||313 hectares (1.21 sq mi)|
|Area rank||84 |
|Highest elevation||Lighthouse Hill 123 metres (404 ft)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Council area||North Ayrshire|
Little Cumbrae (Scots: Wee Cumbrae, Scottish Gaelic: Cumaradh Beag) or Little Cumbrae Island is an island in the Firth of Clyde, in North Ayrshire, Scotland. The island is known locally as Wee Cumbrae.
The Gaelic name Cumaradh means "place of the Cymric people", referring to the Brittonic-speaking inhabitants of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Alternatively, the name Cumbrae may derive from Kil Maura meaning "cell or church of a female saint".
Little Cumbrae lies barely a kilometre to the south of its larger neighbour, Great Cumbrae, a few kilometres distant from the mainland town of Largs. The islands are collectively referred to as The Cumbraes. In stark contrast to its neighbour, green and fertile Great Cumbrae, Little Cumbrae is a rough and rocky island. With its many cliffs and rocky outcrops, Little Cumbrae bears more of a resemblance to a Hebridean island than to some of its neighbours in the Clyde.
A number of uninhabited islets skirt the island's east coast, Castle Isle, the Broad Islands and Trail Isle.
Today the island's main settlement is at Little Cumbrae House on the eastern shore, facing the Scottish mainland.
Unlike its larger neighbour, Little Cumbrae is formed almost entirely from extrusive igneous rocks. These are a mix of Carboniferous age basalts, mugearite and hawaiite lava flows cut by a similarly aged WSW-ENE aligned dyke of alkali olivine diorite. A later northwest-southeast aligned swarm of dykes of Palaeogene age intrude these rocks whilst several geological faults run generally NW-SE. There are limited outcrops of sedimentary rock in the east, these being of the Eileans Sandstone assigned to the Clyde Sandstone Formation of the Carboniferous age Inverclyde Group. A raised beach is developed along the lower-lying east coast of the island on which have accumulated marine deposits and blown sand. Glacial striations betray the broadly north-south movement of a glacier over the island during the last ice age. Small pockets of peat have accumulated during the post-glacial period.
Little Cumbrae Lighthouse
|Location||Firth of Clyde|
|Year first constructed||1793|
|Year first lit||1997 (current tower)|
|Construction||Traditional white tower (inoperative)|
|Focal height||92 feet (28 m)|
|Characteristic||Fl. W 6 sec|
In the early 20th century, under the ownership of Evelyn Stuart Parker, a new 'mansion house' was created from the original single storey farmhouse, the gardens were laid out to a plan by Gertrude Jekyll, the renowned garden designer, and substantial repairs were undertaken to the castle and the original lighthouse. The original work commenced in 1913, with subsequent alterations made between 1926 and 1929 when the square tower and top floor were added.
James Ewing built the first Little Cumbrae lighthouse on the top of Lighthouse Hill in 1757. This was the second lighthouse in Scotland. An open fire was lit at the top of a circular stone tower. Remains of this old structure can still be seen and are designated a scheduled ancient monument.
The traditional Cumbrae Lighthouse was built in 1793 by Thomas Smith under commission from the Commissioners of the Northern Lights. The lighthouse lies on a broad raised beach on the western shore of the island looking out into the Firth. It had a foghorn, slipway, jetty, and boathouse. The original oil lamps were replaced by Argand lamps in 1826 and a solar-powered light was installed in 1974. The 1793 tower has been unused since 1997, with the light on 36-foot hexagonal/cylindrical tower adjacent to the old generator house.
Little Cumbrae was privately purchased in 2003 and there were plans for its development as a memorial park, nature reserve and corporate escape.
The island was sold again in July 2009 for £2 million. The buyers of the island, a Scottish millionaire couple of Indian origin, Sarwan and Sunita Poddar, opened a yoga and meditation centre there with the help of yoga guru Swami Baba Ramdev. There have also been rumours of the new owners planning to rename it "Peace Island", but those have been denied.