MILLPORT Golf Club have branded reports of people flouting lockdown rules to play on the island as 'ghost golfers'.

Reports emerged at the weekend that stowaways had been found hiding in a van heading for the Isle of Cumbrae to enjoy a round at the course.

However, the club have carried out their own investigation into the matter and say they have confirmation from the ferry company that no such incident occurred.

Club captain Walter Horne said: "It is a story that has grown arms and legs. We have spoken to CalMac who tell us that they didn't find any golfers hiding in a van when searching vehicles on the way to Cumbrae.

"We don't know who these people are or where they are or if they ever were on the island - they are ghost golfers."

The club say they have been carrying out regular checks at the golf club seven days a week and everyone who wishes to play has to formally book a tee off time by telephone.

Islanders have a special disc for their vehicle when parking at the club, and if the vehicle doesn't have one, a note is left on the vehicle asking the car owner to confirm their membership details. If they don't receive a reply within a reasonable period of time, the vehicle is removed.

Secretary Patricia Broadley-Clews said: "We have carried out regular checks on the course.

"People in Millport diligently obeyed the lockdown rules over a 12 week period. We have around 30 members who live on the island.

"We have rigorously followed all the Scottish Government requirements in opening the golf club for users. We hope that this now all dies down and we can get on with the running of the golf club." The club is one of the oldest in North Ayrshire, having been operating for 132 years.

CalMac has banned all but essential travel on their ferries until the end of June.

While those on the mainland can travel for exercise and visit family while practising social distancing, travelling to and from islands is to be prohibited until at least June 30.

The operator confirmed to the News that they had found no evidence that golfers were found hiding inside vans heading for Millport.

There have been reports on other routes of 'stowaways', including two people discovered in the rear footwell of a car on a ferry heading from the Isle of Arran to mainland Ardrossan

A spokesman for the ferry company said: “As per Scottish Government guidelines, travel to our islands remains for essential purposes only.

“We have had some occasions when people have tried to gain passage to or from our islands by concealing themselves in vehicles, but not the Millport incident described.

"Anybody found to be doing so will be not be allowed to travel. We would again encourage people to behave responsibly and respect the wishes of island communities until guidelines allow for non-essential travel.”

CalMac have increased the number of checks being carried out on vehicles on all ferry routes.