Area focus: Largs

The Largs Viking Festival is set to return this weekend for nine days of celebrations in the seaside town on the North Ayrshire coast.

The town of Largs, on the Forth of Clyde in North Ayrshire is a seaside resort with a pier and links with the Vikings. Picture: Kenny Lam
The town of Largs, on the Forth of Clyde in North Ayrshire is a seaside resort with a pier and links with the Vikings. Picture: Kenny Lam

It includes a living history 13th-century Viking Village at the Vikingar! centre, an air display, food and crafts market and the famous Festival of Fire.

The festival, which began in 1980, recognises the last mainland battle between the Norse and any of the four UK nations, in the 1263 Battle of Largs.

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King Håkon Håkonsson of Norway is said to have brought some 20,000 men on a large fleet of longships to cement his power over those in the Hebrides and West Coast.

Giant Viking statue known locally as Magnus, standing tall in Largs at sunset. Picture: Kenny Lam

However, with the Scots being led by King Alexander III and a build up of stormy weather, the battle reportedly ended in a stalemate and the Norwegian king set sail for home, though died en route at Orkney.

The town’s name derives from the Gaelic meaning for ‘the slopes’ and Largs, as it stands today, was developed from the North Cunninghame estates, owned by Sir Robert Montgomerie of Skelmorlie and his wife Dame Margaret Douglas.

In 1636 the couple built the Renaissance-style Skermorlie Aisle at the site of a medieval parish church, to be used as their place of worship and final resting place.

By the 19th Century, Largs, with its vast sandy beach, had become a bustling seaside resort.

A train station and influx of hotels in the mid to late 1800s marked it as a prominent holiday destination.

Wealthy merchants also began building large mansions in the community following the railway’s opening in 1885, when Largs’ economy – built on fishing and weaving – grew substantially.

Notable houses include the 19th-century Danefield House on Greenock Road, built in 1883 and now a conversion of modern flats.

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Rarely coming to market, these desirable properties have an average market value of £215,169.

Also on that street are detached villas boasting spacious gardens known locally as the 12 Apostles. Much of their appeal stems from the uninterrupted views across the Firth of Clyde towards the Great Cumbrae island.

Another grand mansion in the town is the Scottish Baronial-style Netherhall House which was built on Kelvin Walk in the year previous to Danefield for William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin.

During the 1990s, the impressive structure was converted into apartments by property developer Barratt Homes and being much in demand, a two-bedroom flat will cost more than £190,000 today.

But there is a great choice of property types throughout Largs, where the average price of a home is £143,073, according to Rightmove.

The portal shows that demand is growing as sold prices in Largs over the last year were 13 per cent up since 2019.

For those seeking a more modern sea view flat, head to Broomfield Place and the adjoining Broomfield Crescent where there are many boasting views across Castle Bay.

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Another desirable development in the south is Bowen Craig, adjacent to Pencil Bay, which features two and three-bedroom flats, many of which make the most of the stunning coastal views with private balconies. These cost on average £249,898.

There are shops and eateries around the promenade, Main Street and the train station, and well-known supermarket brands include Morrisons, Tesco Express and a Co-op Food.

Education is provided for primary and secondary pupils at Largs Campus on Alexander Avenue.

Cedars School of Excellence is the nearest independent offering, located a half-hour drive north, while Wellington School in Ayr, is around a 50-minute drive south.

With hourly trains to Glasgow Central Station via Johnstone and Paisley Gilmour Street, Largs is well suited to those seeking a home in a seaside location with easy access to bigger towns and cities in the west of the Central Belt.