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Isle of Bute

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Isle of Bute

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The Isle of Bute[13] is an island in the Firth of Clyde, off the west coast of Scotland.

Get in[edit]

By sea[edit]

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

Caledonian MacBrayne[14] 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[15] calls at Rothesay on excursions.

By rail[edit]

First Scotrail[16] trains run from Glasgow Central to Wemyss Bay, and connect with the ferries. Rail/ferry through tickets are available. 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.

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.

Bute Airfield can be used by private light aircraft.


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[17] run bus services on the island. Tel: 01586 552319.

By bike[edit]

Cycling is the perfect way to explore the island. Cycle hire is available from The Bike Shed[18], located just a short distance along the shoreline from the ferry terminal in Rothesay. Tel: 01700 505515.

See[edit][add listing]

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 House, Kerrycroy, Isle of Bute (south on the coast road from the ferry some 6 miles), 01700 503877, [1]. 11 to 5PM Su-F, 10 to 2.30 on Saturdays. Everyday 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.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Putting and golf. BBQ if its not raining.

  • Port Bannatyne Petanque Club, Recreation Ground, Port Bannatyne (North along the coastroad 3 miles from the ferry). Boules and mesaures may be hired from the Post Office, or the Anchor Tavern.  edit
  • Loch Fad Fishing, Loch Fad, Isle of Bute (West from the ferry along High Street skirting the castle, after a mile there is a track to the right of the road), 01700 504871, [2]. The deep loch is stocked with trout. Pike, perch and roach may be fished. Boats and rods may be hired £16 day permit.  edit
  • Rothesay Castle, Rothesay (In the heart of Rothesay), 01700 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 Bute Museum.  edit
  • Port Bannatyne Golf Club, Mains Road, Port Bannatyne, 01700 504270, [3]. 13 holes, club house, fantastic views, friendly club, kit for hire.  edit
  • Ascog Hall Fernery, Ascog Hall, Ascog, Bute (South along the coast road 4 miles), 01700 504555, [4]. 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.  edit
  • Rothesay Victorian Lavatories, Ferry terminal, Rothesay, 01700 505146. Open all year. A shrine to Victorian simply have to do it here! 10 pence!.  edit
  • Port Bannatyne Marina and Boatyard, Port Bannatyne (north along the coast road from Rothesay 3 miles), 01700 505073, [5]. A fine new marina wholly in keeping with the beauty of the islands and highlands. Overnight stay facilities, permanent berthibng and boatyard repairs and storing for all craft. The cheapest fees in Western Scotland.  edit
  • West Island Way, 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 accomodation and food can be found en-route.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Rothesay Leisure Centre, High Street, Rothesay. For those rainy days. Pool, gym and sauna open daily.  edit
  • Go Cycling. Compared to the surrounding mainland, Bute is relitavely flat, with quiet roads and amazing views. Bikes can be hired from the Bike Shed, East Princes Street, Rothesay.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Loch Fad Freshwater Fishing, Loch Fad, Isle of Bute (West from Rothesay, up High Street alongside the Castle, then a mile west and take track to the right hand side of the road.), 01700 504871, [6]. Deep loch stocked with trout. Pike, perch, and roach are fished. Rods and rowing boats are available for hire. £16 per day. Concessions.  edit
  • Bute Museum, Rothesay, Isle of Bute (outside the castle walls to the west, ie furthest away from the ferry), 0700 505067. Open all year. Oct - Mar Tues to Sun 1430 to 1630. £1.20.  edit
  • Scottish Rose Veal (Drumachloy Farm), Drumachloy Farm, Isle of Bute, [7]. 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  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • 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), 01700 505073, [8]. 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.  edit
  • 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), 01700502067, [9]. 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.  edit
  • Zavaronis, Rothesay. 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.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • The Port Royal Hotel, Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute (North along coast road from the ferry 3 miles), 01700 505073, [10]. checkin: 12 midday; checkout: 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.  edit
  • Ardbeg Lodge, 23 Marine Place, Rothesay (North along coast road from the ferry 1 1/2 miles), 01700 505448, [11]. checkin: 12 midday; checkout: 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.  edit
  • Westend Self-Catering Flat, 68 Marine Road,Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute (Approximately 3 miles north of Rothesay, next to North Bute Primary School), 01700 500586. checkin: N/A; checkout: 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.  edit
  • Cannon House Hotel, 5 Battery Place, Rothesay (From the ferry turn left, following the coast road for approx 500 metres), 01700502819, [12]. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 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.  edit

Get out[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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