Bute is renowned for its beautiful beaches with wonderfully scenic vistas across to the mainland on the east of the island and across to Arran on the southwest. Whatever the weather, all of Bute’s beaches are worth a visit.
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. At the south end of the bay visitors will find a bird hide that is a great spot for sightings of waders and other sea birds. The water quality here is monitored by SEPA so you can often find people paddling and swimming in the clear water during the warmer summer months.
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. The small cottage above the beach was more recently used up until the Cold War as a listening post for enemy submarines patrolling the Firth of Clyde. Scalpsie has two viewpoints; one is called 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. The whole area is waymarked and pathed to all the sites of interest.
St Ninians Bay (Straad)
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. It is also home to St Ninian’s Chapel, an early Christian site associated with Ninian that was consolidated by the Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme in 2009. The bay used to have a thriving fishing fleet and as such the beach is covered with a sand of white cockleshells.
Turn down towards Kilchattan Bay from the Kingarth Hotel and you’ll pass behind this beach. The “Wee Bay” beach 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 settlement of Kilchattan Bay and you can park your car just behind the beach past the row of beachside cottages ( a lovely location for a house). Low tide brings acres of sand to explore and there are great opportunities for bird watching.
Langalbuinoch (Stravannan Bay)
Stravannan Bay can be reached on foot by following the signs for the West Island Way from the west coast road to Kingarth or the road to St Blane’s Chapel from the airfield.
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.