Nestled in the sea lochs of Southern Argyll, you will find the Isle of Bute, often called one of the jewels in the crown of Scotland. The island measures about 15 miles long by 4 miles wide and is only about two hours drive from Glasgow. You can take a cruise here on the Paddle Steamer Waverly, which operates during the summer months. To get here you can drive along the scenic shores of Loch Lomond and then take the ferry from Wemyss Bay to Rhubodach. There are also trains from Glasgow to Wemyss Bay.
The history of the Isle of Bute goes back many centuries. There are standing stones here that archaeologists believe to be more than 5000 years old. It is the ancestral home of the Stuarts of Scotland and was captured by the English during the Wars of Independence. Robert the Bruce recaptured the castle here in 1311, but it was ransacked and burned in subsequent battles.
The Isle of Bute has been a seaside resort dating back to Victorian times. Today there are many attractions for tourists, such as Rothesay Castle. This castle has been partially restored and here you can see a video telling of the Viking presence in the Isle of Bute. Mount Stuart dates back to the mid 1800's and stands in the midst of botanical gardens modelled after those of Kew in London. See the only Victorian ferns in Scotland when you visit the Ascog Fern Halls and Garden. This site has thousands of different varieties of ferns from all over the world and one collection is believed to be over 1000 years old.
The public loos are Victorian Toilets and have won national awards. They date back to 1899 and shoe marble flooring and fittings, copper pipes and cisterns with glass sides. Visit the Bute Museum for a look at the impressive exhibits and displays about the Isle of Bute and St. Blane's Chapel is a very scenic location where you can get a stunning view of Dunagoil.
There is no lack of accommodations or restaurants on the Isle of Bute. The accommodations range from bed and breakfasts to inns and hotels and self-catering cottages. There is public transportation on the island to help you get to the various places. The annual Jazz festival in May is one of the events that draw thousands of tourists to the Isle of Bute. Other special events that take place include the Highland Games in August and the Folk Festival in July. You can take part in many different kinds of activities here, such as climbing Windy Hill or Torran Turach. The roads here are excellent and the cycling opportunities here are some of the best you will ever enjoy.
All Isle of Bute photographs © Kevin Steel