Region: Scotland

Disabled Facilities: Yes

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: Isle of Cumbrae, Ayrshire, KA28 0HQ

Contact: 014755 30757



We are Scotland’s National Watersports Centre.  Supported by sportscotland the Centre is situated on the beautiful island of Cumbrae and we provide an opportunity to participate in dinghy sailing, canoeing/kayaking, windsurfing, powerboating and yacht cruising.  Our location is linked to our name hence National Centre Cumbrae.  

Cumbrae is claimed to be Scotland's most accessible island, reached in just 8.5 minutes from Largs on the Clyde coast. The island itself is 4 miles long and has a circular road with total distance of 10.25 miles making it ideal for walkers and cyclists. Largs is 45 minutes west of Glasgow by car and and has rail & bus links to the town centre.

As a National Centre our role is to provide the highest quality learning opportunities at all levels; encouraging success, enabling personal development and empowering individuals to safe and responsible access to the sea. In doing this we aim to give everyone an enjoyable and worthwhile experience in their chosen activity(s). Our staff are extremely well qualified and are passionate about creating the opportunity for others to get afloat. Learning more about watersports will enhance new physical skills and also develop personal and social skills.

When individuals and groups arrive at the Centre they will recieve a warm welcome and if staying for a number of days they will be shown their onsite accommodation.  Our bedrooms are in log chalet style buildings and there are allocated rooms for leaders to accompany their group.  Once familiar with the centre it will be time to get afloat.  Activity programmes are tailored to group preference and can be one specific activity or a mix of 2 or 3 activities giving everyone a taste.  Multiple day visits can result in governing body syllabus’s being followed and log books can be used to mark progress and where applicable certificates can be awarded.

All equipment, instruction, safety cover and the personal watersports clothing is provided for participants.  Once the basic needs of warmth & safety are met the real learning, and fun, can begin.

A days activity runs from 0930 till 1630.  Residential groups can stretch this out if preferred and can add activities such as team building, rock pool dipping and cycling into their stay. Lunch is always included and is served at 12.30pm. For overnight guests evening meals are at 6pm and breakfast at 8.30am.

Why is this venue great for School Trips and Educational Visits?

Our island location makes us a safe haven for groups and removes many of the pressures of daily life and the bustle of towns and cities.  The journey is part of the adventure whether you arrive by the ferry or some of our fast safety boats everyone will feel they are on holiday.

Arriving on the island is like stepping back in time.  Life is simple, there is a great deal of freedom, nature is close at hand and the children can be as noisy as they wish as the neighbours won’t hear! The Centre’s facilities keeps everyone close together yet at the same time groups can branch off into separate areas to work on specific activities or recreational games.  

The Centre’s equipment is among the best you will find anywhere in the UK and has everything required for getting everyone afloat and being able to adapt to weather conditions providing the best possible experience on the day.

When it comes to educational benefits there is much more than learning how to rig and sail a boat. There is the awareness of environment and the decisions required based on this.  Is it hot/cold? sunny/wet? windy /calm? is the tide in or out? what is tide? is it deep/shallow? is it rocky/sandy? can I manage on my own? should I lend a hand?  There is so much scope for learning and enhancing the skills and knowledge the children already have.

What does a typical school trip or educational visit include?

An educational visit will provide opportunity for experiential learning.  Different teaching & coaching styles will be evident depending on the stage in a proposed activity.  Individuals will have to take on a certain level of personal responsibility and learn to assess risk in a manageble and supported method.  The learning should be fun, exciting, inspiring and constructive.  Both time on and off the waters will be of value providing time to absorb & review their learning and to relax in the company of their peers.

Instructors and teachers will discuss any specific curriculum themes that can be integrated to the watersports session.  Key areas to consider are science, maths, p.e and pshe.

Do you have a YouTube Video link regarding your venue?

Cumbrae watersports:



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This venue has the following accreditation:

The Centre:

Is an RYA Training Centre.  

Is an approved Duke of Edinburgh Provider.

Has current AALA accreditation

Is an approved BCU Paddlepower Provider

Has several ILA courses

What size groups do they cater for?

On a day visit the Centre can accommodate groups of 70 however for residential visits it is limited to a maximum of 44 beds.  The maximum number catered for may be less depending on gender influences on room alloction and number of leaders.

What can they provide you with to support your school trip or educational

Prior to a group booking teachers are invited to make a visit if they have the time to do so.  A member of staff will also plan to visit the school or organisation and explain more to the leader, the participants and/or the parents.  The centre has a leaders pack which includes notes to teachers/leaders and outlines the policy and procedures in place at the Centre.  The pack also includes sample activity programmes, confirmation of licences and insurance and general information.

Can you take photos, video or audio? Are there any copyright restrictions?

Visitors to the Centre are welcome to use cameras and video recorders.  When a group does not have sole use of the venue we ask them to be curtious of other users and respect their privacy when it comes to images and video.

How do you arrange a risk assessment?

All activity at the Centre is undertaken in line with current, regularly evaluated, risk assessments.  These are readily available for teachers & leaders.  There is a key member of staff who deals with group bookings and enquiries will be directed appropriately. 

There are pricing structures in place making it like for like for all visitors and this will be explained at the point of enquiry before any confirmed booking is taken.  The procedure requires a deposit payment followed by full settlement 6 weeks in advance of the visit.  Our staff will assist to make the booking administration as simple and efficient as possible.

What are the contact details for their education officer?

Supporting the administration of a educational booking there are other key staff who are informed about educational visits and will liase with the leader prior and post their booking. Our key bookings officer for school groups is Nancy Bunyan. 01475 530 757

What does it cost?

Group booking prices can vary depending on the length of stay, the activities afloat or ashore (cyling) and residential requirements.  A supervising leader goes free with every 10th child. Additional supervising adults will be charged for their stay and this rate will be dependant on their intent to take part in the activities. The Instructors cover the ratio of adult to child afloat therefore group leaders and supervisory adults are not obliged to participate.

Is specific clothing required?

We recommend that visitors pack suitably for an outdoors holiday which includes water proof jacket, waterproof trousers (if available) t shirts, long sleeved tops and warm jumper.  Trousers, leggings &/or shorts. Trainers and willies. Swimming garments are good to wear under the provided wetsuits and individuals are also encouraged to bring a hat, gloves and sun glasses regardless of the time of year. Bed linen is provided but a towel(s) are required.

Do you have first aid on site?

All our instructors are first aiders.  This is a pre requisite of their professional qualifications.  There are marked first aid areas in the centre and emergency procedure plans in place.

What facilities do they have for school trips and educational visits?

A hot lunch is provided daily in the dining area which is suitable for wet gear.

There is a lounge area with TV and bar (bar only open for adult groups)

There are teaching rooms with smartboard technology.

There is a gym and sauna (not usually used for youth groups)

There is a free self service area for juice, water, tea, coffee and hot chocolate available 24hrs

There are vending machines for carbonated and bottled drinks & confectionary. In addition there is a shop which has opening times displayed in the Centre.

A group may wish to combine asells additional confectionary, toiletries and souvineer items. A trip to the local town of Millport couldbe incorporated where there are further shops & cafes.

Guests should not need more that a couple of £s a day and the limit should be set by the group leader.

For day visits groups can bring their own packed lunch if they prefer and an indoor area made available.

Are there disabled facilities?

The Centre has disabled access into the main building and has 2 accessable bedrooms suitable for wheel chair users and others.  There is an accessable toilet in the main building and no restriction to group activity areas.

What are your opening days and hours?

The Centre only shuts for 2 weeks over Christmas and New Year.  There is always a night watch member of staff in the building when there are residents staying.  For day guests the hours of opening are 9.00am – 5.00pm

Is there anything else that you feel is important and want to include in your

Tried and tested formula and a number of schools have been coming back for years.

Age of Children / Pupils: 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Climbing Duke of Edinburgh Award Field Studies Maritime Outdoor Education Outdoor Pursuits Residential School Trips Sea life Water Sports Wildlife and Nature

Curriculum Topics Covered: Environmental Studies Leisure & Tourism Mathematics PE PSHE Science

Months Open: All Year Round January February March April May June July August September October November December