Big Weekend 2023 – Cumbrae

The Big Weekend is the OWPG’s annual gathering.

The Big Weekend provides a great opportunity for members to meet friends old and new, to share experiences, learn new things and participate in the running of our Guild.


The Field Studies Centre at Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, near Largs, Scotland

FSC Millport (Isle of Cumbrae, Scotland)

Isle of Cumbrae
The Isle of Cumbrae is known as Scotland’s most accessible island. Heading west from Glasgow, the River Clyde soon shakes off its shipbuilding past and opens out into the Firth of Clyde, a wilder area with spectacular island views. Ferries for the short hop across to Cumbrae leave from the seaside resort of Largs. By road, Cumbrae’s one and only town, Millport, is then just a few minutes away, set attractively on the shores of a bay. It has most of the facilities that you would expect of a tourist destination including pubs, cafes, a chemist and a bank.


Friday 13 October to Monday 16 October 2023

The cost:

Rates for staying at the centre are inclusive of all meals and packed lunches and are £57 per person per night for three nights, £63 per night for two nights and £75 for one night only (if available). Single supplements (limited number only) will be £15 per person per night.
Partners are welcome and will pay the same accommodation and food costs as members.
Camper van users staying at the centre will pay £50 per person per night if travelling alone and £42 where two share; both rates are inclusive of all meals and use of showers and other facilities.

Dress Code:

There is no dress code!

AGM and Awards Ceremony.

As usual the Guild’s AGM will take place at 4:30pm on the Saturday and the annual Awards ceremony/dinner will take place on the Saturday evening.

A link to download AGM info is now live on the Constitutional/AGM downloads page (NB If there is no link live here, you need to login to view both the link and the page it forwards to!)

Further Information

Booking is now open for members (and their partners) wishing to attend the 2023 Big Weekend and AGM. Accomodation booking forms must be received by 5 July 2023. Please see “Accomodation” lower down this page for the Booking Form and instructions on what to do next.

Getting There

The island is easily accessible by road and public transport with Largs lying about 35-40 miles west (ish) of Glasgow. Calmac ferries operate up to mid evening and take about ten minutes for the crossing, with a half hourly service at busy times. (Link to ferry schedule). NB If you are needing the 2215 (Friday only) ferry, please be aware that you need to book this direct with the Lairgs office, and this can only be done in the week before the sailing!
By rail, the trip from Glasgow to Largs takes about an hour and then it’s a short walk to the ferry departure point. On arrival, the ferry is met by a service bus which stops near the centre. Other members will help out with a lift if you get stuck.


Most guests are housed in two modern outbuildings with ensuite accommodation, most people will be in double ensuite rooms, with a supplement for single occupancy. As last year, preference will be given to those staying for three nights, followed by those staying for two nights on Friday and Saturday.

Camper vans can be accommodated on site for a modest fee with full use of the facilities. Alternatively, the Garrison Motorhome Site is just a short walk away with electrical and water hookups and may be a better choice; book early and please make your own arrangements if you wish to stay there.

We will have sole use of the main conference centre. This is located in a purpose-built building nearby which includes a smaller room alongside for workshops and an annex which can also serve as a bar. (Shared lounges and a bar are also available in the main building.)

Accommodation Booking Form:

Download the booking form and save the it so it has your name in the title. Once you have completed it, please return your form to the BW organiser, Kevin Sene.

You will also need to send a deposit of £60 to our Treasurer (bank details/address to send cheque to on accommodation form).


As ever, there’ll be a diverse programme of activities on offer, which this year will include a cycle ride around the island, a walk to its highest point, a taster rock climbing session, a book table and professional development workshops on outdoors/nature writing, photography and presentation skills for local radio interviews, book festivals and podcasts. There will also be a birdwatching session, a trip to a local gin distillery and a boat trip around the island.