The Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde

Monday, 21 May 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Arran mountains over Rothesay © flickr.com - SeaDave/cc-by-2.0

Arran mountains over Rothesay © flickr.com – SeaDave/cc-by-2.0

The Isle of Bute is an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is divided into highland and lowland areas by the Highland Boundary Fault. Formerly a constituent island of the larger County of Bute, it is now part of the council area of Argyll and Bute. Bute’s resident population is at 6,500. Farming and tourism are the main industries on the island, along with fishing and forestry. The only town on the island, Rothesay, is linked by ferry (Caledonian MacBrayne ferries) to the mainland. To its north is the coastal village of Port Bannatyne; hamlets on the island include Ascog, Kilchattan Bay, Kerrycroy and Kingarth. The interior of the island is hilly, though not mountainous, with conifer plantations and some uncultivated land, particularly in the north. The highest point is Windy Hill at 278 metres (912 ft). The centre of the island contains most of the cultivated land, while the island’s most rugged terrain is found in the far south around Glen Callum. Loch Fad is Bute’s largest body of freshwater and runs along the fault line.

The western side of Bute is known for its beaches, many of which enjoy fine views over the Sound of Bute towards Arran and Bute’s smaller satellite island Inchmarnock. Hamlets on the western side of the island include Straad, around St. Ninian’s Bay, and Kildavanan on Ettrick Bay. In the north, Bute is separated from the Cowal peninsula by the Kyles of Bute. The northern part of the island is more sparsely populated, and the ferry terminal at Rhubodach connects the island to the mainland at Colintraive by the smaller of the island’s two ferries. The crossing is one of the shortest, less than 300 metres (330 yd), and takes only a few minutes but is busy because many tourists prefer the scenic route to the island. North Bute forms part of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area, one of 40 in Scotland.

Sound of Bute © Neil McDermott/cc-by-sa-3.0 Rothesay - Glenburn Hotel © Jonathan Nélis/cc-by-sa-3.0 Rothesay Harbour © flickr.com - marsupium photography/cc-by-sa-2.0 Rothesay Bay at night © geograph.org.uk - Gary Rogers/cc-by-sa-2.0 Port Bannatyne - Port Royal Hotel © geograph.org.uk - Nicholas Mutton/cc-by-sa-2.0 Port Bannatyne Quay © Teddy Birmingham/cc-by-sa-3.0 Mount Stuart House © DeFacto/cc-by-sa-4.0 Kingarth Hotel © geograph.org.uk - John Ferguson/cc-by-sa-2.0 Farm house at West St Colmac Ettrick Bay © geograph.org.uk - John Ferguson/cc-by-sa-2.0 Arran mountains over Rothesay © flickr.com - SeaDave/cc-by-2.0
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Farm house at West St Colmac Ettrick Bay © geograph.org.uk - John Ferguson/cc-by-sa-2.0
Architectural attractions on the island include the ruined 12th century St Blane’s Chapel on a site associated with Saint Catan and Saint Blane, who was born on Bute. Another ruined chapel, dating from the 6th century, lies at St Ninian’s Point. The eccentric Mount Stuart House is often cited as one of the world’s most impressive neo-Gothic mansions, bringing many architectural students from Glasgow on day trips. The third Marquess had a passion for art, astrology, mysticism and religion and the house reflects this in the architecture, furnishings and art collection. There is a marble chapel, much stained glass and walls of paintings. The house is open at Easter and from May to October. There are gardens with plants imported from many parts of the world, and a visitor centre. The gardens host a number of events throughout the year starting with an Easter Parade. In 2003 the fashion designer Stella McCartney married in the chapel, generating intense media interest. Activities and workshops are often held there in the summer by a local organisation that provides after school clubs and activities in the school holidays; there is also a farmers’ market and a Christmas market held in the house and in the visitor centre. In 2016, a previously uncatalogued copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio was authenticated in the Mount Stuart House library. The Pavilion is a 1930s edifice housing a concert hall, workshops and café, and is noted for its architecture. The Pavilion is little changed from when it was built. Rothesay Castle was built 800 years ago by the hereditary High Steward of Scotland. Ascog Hall Fernery and Gardens are a renovated Victorian residence and glass-house containing shrubs and plants from all over the Empire, including a fern believed to be over 1,000 years old.

Loch Fad is a deep freshwater loch stocked with pike and brown trout, and is available to visiting tourist fishermen. Boats are available to hire. The Old Post Office, now used only for sorting mail, is an historic working post office (open mornings only) which houses artefacts of the early post, some from before the advent of the postage stamp. Scalpsie Bay has a colony of over 200 seals on its beach, which can only be reached on foot across the fields. The island also has many herds of deer, rich bird life and some large hares. Wild goats with large curled horns may be seen in the north of the island. Port Bannatyne, a village towards the north of the island, is the centre for sailing and sea-fishing on the island. It has two boatyards and a marina for 200 vessels. Langoustines are fished with creels anchored in the bay. Port Bannatyne Golf Club is known for scenic views from the course. A road from Port Bannatyne goes seven miles (11 kilometres) along the shore of the Kyles of Bute to the small ferry to Colintraive on the Argyll mainland. The 1920s Winter Gardens (now the “Discovery Centre”) close to the Rothesay Pier houses a small cinema and tourist information office. Nearby are the Victorian toilets. There are a variety of music, folk and poetry festivals, and walking trails and new cycling routes. There are some remote Bronze Age stone circles, an Iron Age fortified village, and early Christian remains (including St. Blane’s Chapel). The Bute Museum of the island’s history is situated behind Rothesay Castle.

Read more on VisitBute.com, Wikivoyage Isle of Bute and Wikipedia Isle of Bute (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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