Beaches, Gardens, Wildlife

Bute is renowned for its beautiful beaches with wonderfully scenic vistas.

Ettrick Bay is a long, golden sandy beach reaching about a mile along the west coast of the island. It is a popular stop for all holiday makers with a tearoom serving food all afternoon with some lovely cakes! It also has a children’s play area, car park and toilet facilities.

Scalpsie Bay is also on the west coast of the island. It is a beautiful and secluded bay with reddish sand. Scalpsie was used for a variety of military purposes in WWII. The timber posts sunken into the sand are the remains of WWII anti-glider defences as the area was thought to be a possible landing site for a German invasion. Scalpsie has two viewpoints; Seal View below the road from which a colony of some 200 seals can be observed on the rocks to the north of the bay. The other viewpoint is set above the road and commands a fantastic panoramic view of Arran and the Holy Isle and Plan Farm. The whole area is way-marked and pathed to all the sites of interest.

St Ninian’s Bay or The Straad is another small bay on the west coast with a natural anchorage. The bay is protected by St Ninian’s point, a spit of land that can become cut off with spring tides. From here you get fabulous views of Inchmarnock, the 2-mile long satellite isle off the west of Bute. The bay used to have a thriving fishing fleet and as such the beach is covered with a sand of white cockleshells.

Closer to Plan Farm is Kilchattan Bay and the “Wee Bay” beach which is actually quite large. There’s a reddish tinge to the sands of Kilchattan Bay – the rock around here is predominately red sandstone. The beach lies just north of the village of Kilchattan Bay and you can park your car beside the beach past the row of beachside cottages. Low tide brings acres of sand to explore and there are great opportunities for bird watching.

Langalbunioch (Stravannan Bay)can be reached on foot by following the signs for the West Island Way from the west coast road or the road to Plan Farm. The beach sits directly opposite Arran and is wonderfully peaceful. From here you can see the different layers of volcanic rock that make up this part of the island and further round the bay you can see the vitrified fort at Dunagoil.

The gardens on Bute have something to delight every taste. Visitors to Bute will be thrilled to observe Scottish gardening at its most diverse and finest on one island. From the substantial 300 acres of vibrant gardens, woodland and walks at Mount Stuart to the informal abundantly planted Ascog Hall with its unique, award winning Victorian Fernery, to the formal and immaculately tended bedding displays, aviary and glasshouses at Ardencraig Gardens.

There is wildlife in abundance. Anywhere around the coast there is a good chance of seeing seals, but Ascog and Scalpsie are particularly good, and you may even see an Otter which again, are resident around the island. Red and Roe deer are plentiful, as are rabbits, hares and foxes. There are 3 excellent bird hides situated at Loch Fad (The Kirk dam), Loch Quien and Ettrick Bay which is a great spot for sightings of waders and other sea birds. Numerous species of birds can be photographed from these hides, and especially worthy of note are the breeding Ospreys which feed in both Loch Quien and Loch Fad.