Isle of Bute

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The Waverley at Rothesay Pier

The Isle of Bute is an island in the Firth of Clyde, off the west coast of the mainland of Scotland.

Get in[edit]

Isle of Bute location

By sea[edit]

There are 2 ferry routes to Bute from the Scottish mainland.

Caledonian MacBrayne ferries run from Wemyss Bay in Inverclyde, to Rothesay, the only town on the island, and from Colintraive on the Cowal Peninsula, to Rhubodach in the north of the island.

In summer the paddle steamer Waverley calls at Rothesay on excursions.

By rail[edit]

First Scotrail trains run from Glasgow Central to Wemyss Bay, and connect with the ferries. Rail/ferry through tickets are available.

By car[edit]

Wemyss Bay is just a few miles from the western end of the M8 motorway, via the A8 and A78, and so is easily accessible from the UK motorway network. Both of the ferry routes carry vehicles.

By air[edit]

  • Wemyss Bay is within easy reach of both Glasgow International and Glasgow Prestwick airports. Those arriving at Glasgow International Airport can take the shuttle bus to Paisley Station (10 minutes) and take the hourly train to Wemyss Bay. Arrivals at Glasgow Prestwick Airport can take the Glasgow-bound train and change at Paisley for the Wemyss Bay train.
  • Bute Airfield can be used by private light aircraft.

Orientation[edit]

Satellite view of the Isle of Bute

The only town on the island is Rothesay, and it is here that the majority of visitors arrive, on the ferry from Wemyss Bay. Rothesay is located mid-way along the east coast of the island.

Other villages on the island include:

  • Ascog
  • Ardbeg
  • Kerrycroy
  • Kilchattan Bay
  • Kingarth
  • Port Bannatyne
  • Straad
  • Rhubodach

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

West Coast Motors run bus services on the island. Tel: +44 1586 552319.

By bike[edit]

Cycling is the perfect way to explore the island. Cycle hire is available from The Bike Shed, located just a short distance along the shoreline from the ferry terminal in Rothesay. Tel: +44 1700 505515.

See[edit]

  • The Kyles of Bute, the narrow straits that separate the northern end of the island from the Cowal Pensinsula, are a designated National Scenic Area.
  •    Mount Stuart HouseKerrycroy, Isle of Bute (south on the coast road from the ferry some 6 miles),  +44 1700 503877. Su-F 11:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-14:30. Daily at Easter weekend, then from 1st May to 30th Sept.. Britain's most spectacular Victorian Gothic House set in parkland of 200 acres, planted with species brought from all over the world. There is a shuttle bus from the ferry port at Rothesay, and service buses to Kerrycroy and Kilchattan Bay.
  •    Rothesay CastleRothesay (In the heart of Rothesay),  +44 1700 502691. Open all year. Oct to Mar closed Thurs pm and Fridays.. A compound castle adding to a very early fortification and increased in structure by the Vikings. To the rear of the castle is the Bute Museum. £4.50.
  •    Bute MuseumRothesay, Isle of Bute (outside the castle walls to the west, ie furthest away from the ferry),  +44 1700 505067. Open Apr-Sept: Mon to Sat 10:30-15:30, Sun 13:30-15:30; Oct, Nov, Feb, Mar: Tu-Th,Sa 13:30-15:30. £3.00.

Do[edit]

  •    Port Bannatyne Petanque ClubRecreation Ground, Port Bannatyne (North along the coastroad 3 miles from the ferry). Boules and measures may be hired from the Post Office, or the Anchor Tavern.
  •    Loch Fad FishingLoch Fad, (West from the ferry along High Street skirting the castle, after a mile there is a track to the right of the road),  +44 1700 504871. The deep loch is stocked with trout. Pike, perch and roach may be fished. Rowing boats and rods may be hired £16 day permit.
  •    Port Bannatyne Golf ClubMains Road, Port Bannatyne +44 1700 504270. 13 holes, club house, fantastic views, friendly club, kit for hire.
  •    Ascog Hall FerneryAscog Hall, Ascog, Bute (South along the coast road 4 miles),  +44 1700 504555. Mid April until Mid October 10 to 5. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. A veritable tropical jungle in a Victorian glasshouse. Bus to Mount Stuart stops off here.
  •    Rothesay Victorian LavatoriesFerry terminal, Rothesay +44 1700 505146. Open all year. A shrine to Victorian ablutions...you simply have to do it here! 20 pence!.
  •    Port Bannatyne Marina and BoatyardPort Bannatyne (north along the coast road from Rothesay 3 miles),  +44 1700 505073. A fine new marina wholly in keeping with the beauty of the islands and highlands. Overnight stay facilities, permanent berthing and boatyard repairs and storing for all craft.
  •    West Island Wayhttp://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/argyll/west-island-way.shtml. A 32 mile waymarked footpath that starts at Kilchattan Bay and finishes in Port Bannatyne. A range of excellent scenery and wildlife can be seen on the way, ranging from porpoises jumping under the dramatic mountain landscape of Arran, to birds of prey swooping above the rolling fields of central Bute, and deer in the rolling moorland of the north end. And of course, you don't have to walk it all in one day - for the most part accommodation and food can be found en-route.
  •    Ettrick Bay Beach (Straight across from ferry, up hill past swimming pool and follow signs, or head through to Port Bannatyne and turn left after boatyard). Bute's own Hebridean beach, with stunning views across to Arran and the Mull of Kintyre.
  •    Rothesay Leisure CentreHigh Street, Rothesay. For those rainy days. Pool, gym and sauna open daily.
  •    Go Cycling. Compared to the surrounding mainland, Bute is relatively flat, with quiet roads and amazing views. Bikes can be hired from the Bike Shed, East Princes Street, Rothesay.

Buy[edit]

Port Bannatyne telephone box
  • Scottish Rose Veal (Drumachloy Farm), Drumachloy Farm, Isle of Bute. Scottish Rose Veal is reared to high welfare standards on Drumachloy farm. This fantastic tender veal can be purchased on-line shipped across the UK. Or at local farmers markets

Eat[edit]

  • The Russian Tavern at The Port Royal Hotel (Port Bannatyne, Rothesay), 37 Marine Road (North along the coast road from Rothesay some 3 miles. Right on the seafront),  +44 1700 505073. 12.00-23.00. Not a theme-bar but an authentic Russian Restaurant serving excellent cuisine. Chris Evans on his BBC Radio Two programme recommended this little spot for free-ranged highland cattle beef that had a special flavour from eating the seaweed. Fishing boats land their catch just outside, so the seafood is not just fresh, but live! The langoustines (crayfish) are a delight, and a large platter served with freshly baked bread and home mayonaisse costs only £12! Certainly a place to try when visiting Bute. Medium Price.
  • Macqueen's of Rothesay (Scottish Island Quality Meats), 1-3 Bishop Street, Rothesay (from the ferry terminal cross at the pedestrian crossing, turn left and continue to the round about, turn right onto Bishop Street the shop is on the left hand side),  +44 1700502067. 9AM - 6PM M-Sa (half day Wednesday). Gourmet sausages, haggis and black pudding all made by hand daily, using traditional skills and hand mixed spices.
  • ZavaronisRothesay. The Zavaroni family run two cafes and a fish and chip shop on the island. They're not really possible to miss. The chip shop is next to the Co-Op on East Princes Street, the other two cafes, serving made on site ice cream, drinks, snacks and light meals, are on the seafront.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • The Port Royal HotelPort Bannatyne, Isle of Bute (North along coast road from the ferry 3 miles),  +44 1700 505073. Check-in: 12 midday, check-out: 12 miday. Seashore village inn offering budget B&B in four rooms, and in The Russian Tavern serving all day freshly landed seafood and a la carte Russian dishes. Real ales are served direct from the barrel and there is a wide selection of Russian beers, wines and vodkas. £64 double.
  • Ardbeg Lodge23 Marine Place, Rothesay (North along coast road from the ferry 1 1/2 miles),  +44 1700 505448. Check-in: 12 midday, check-out: 12 miday. At the north end of the Isle of Bute, The Hotel sits on the shore of Rothesay bay overlooking Loch Striven and the Cowal Hills. Most rooms are en suite and have sea views and the area is quite and peaceful. The lodges Restaurant "the Striven View Steak House" sources all beef and lamb locally, and offers a varied fresh and seasonal menu based on local produce. £36.50 B&B.
  • Westend Self-Catering Flat68 Marine Road,Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute (Approximately 3 miles north of Rothesay, next to North Bute Primary School),  +44 1700 500586. Check-in: N/A, check-out: N/A. Ground floor self catering flat with a great view over the Kyles of Bute, sleeps 2-4, ample roadside parking, near slipway for launching canoes or dinghies, walkers and cyclists welcome. £275/week.
  • Cannon House Hotel5 Battery Place, Rothesay (From the ferry turn left, following the coast road for approx 500 metres),  +44 1700502819. Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 11pm. A Georgian property on the sea front. Relax and enjoy magnificent sea views in a peaceful location. Two superior suites, four doubles and one twin. A delicious a la carte menu is available each evening. Residents lounge and small bar.

Go next[edit]

The Waverley runs day trips in the summer to Cumbrae, Tighnabruaich, Tarbert, Arran and beyond. Unless you can arrange a helicopter or plane flight, the only way off the island is a ferry.

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