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Bute’s Beautiful Beaches

Bute has many sandy beaches for you to play, have fun or just relax in the clear, sea air

Bute’s balmy climate, due to its geographical position sheltered by the Isle of Arran and the Kintyre peninsula to the west along with the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, has made it a popular Scottish holiday destination for well over a century

Ettrick Bay

Sits on the north-west coast of the island. It’s a mile-long stretch of golden sand with stunning views over to Argyll’s Secret Coast and the neighbouring Island of Arran.

Beach facilities are good with car parking, toilets, picnic areas and a small children’s play area. At the start of the beach Ettrick Bay Tearoom serves up ice cream, tasty lunches and mouth-watering cakes. The tearoom is dog friendly.

To really work up an appetite, why not walk the Tramway Route from Port Bannatyne to Ettrick Bay? This easy, flat 30-minute walk along an old tramway offers fabulous views and the opportunity to spot Bute’s flora and fauna.

Or you could walk to the bird hide at the south end of the bay and train your binoculars to some of the many seabird species indigenous to the west coast.

Another option is to seek out Ettrick Bay Stone Circle, which is found further up the valley and is comprised of eight stones.

Ettrick Bay by MT Photography

Photo by Andy Walters

Photo by Paul Kiddell from his mirco light plane

St Ninian’s Bay

St Ninian’s Bay, also known as The Straad, is a small horseshoe-shaped bay covered with white cockle shells. The bay, just a bit further south than Ettrick Bay, is protected by a spit of land called St Ninian’s point.

It’s well worth taking a wander out along the point for the fantastic views of Inchmarnock and to see the ruined 6th-century Ninian’s Chapel. Beware though – it gets cut off from the mainland at spring tides, i.e. just after the full moon. The bay, the surrounding fields and the saltmarsh to the northwest are home to a wealth of birdlife.

Look out for waders including ringed plover, dunlin, oystercatcher and curlew. Shelduck, greylag and Canada geese all breed in the area and white-tailed eagles have also been spotted here.

St Ninian’s Bay by John Williams

Scalpsie Bay

Further south is secluded Scalpsie Bay, a beautiful stretch of reddish sand.

It’s just a five-minute walk from the road along a sign-posted path. This tranquil beach is a great place to relax, soak up the scenery of Bute and admire the views to Kintyre and Arran.

It’s also the place on Bute to spot seals. Head to Seal View viewpoint where you can watch the large colony of seals, both Common and Grey, on their rocky perches.

The state of the tide will determine the number that you see, but if you hit the right time you might see up to 100 seals.

There’s another viewpoint which gives you stunning views of Arran and the Holy Isle.

Scalpsie Bay by Eden Thomson age 12

The walk to Scalpsie beach from the main road with Arran over the water

Kilchattan Bay

Sits near the southern tip of Bute on the east coast. It offers wonderful views across the water to Great Cumbrae.

A sandy bay known locally as the ‘Wee Bay’ sweeps around to the north, while to the south is the start of the West Island Way. It leads along the rocky shore and past the lighthouse which marks the southern end of the island.

A small settlement, also known as Kilchattan Bay, lines the shoreline, with a row of fishermen’s houses, Victorian villas and an old stone pier. Nearby St Blane’s Chapel, an atmospheric ruined church, is also worth a visit.

Kilchattan Bay by John Williams

Stravanan Bay

From Kilchattan Bay you can enjoy a short walk across the narrowest part of Bute to visit Stravanan Bay, a sandy beach on the west coast of the island.

This serene spot has wonderful views of Arran and the fort of Dunagoil, an Iron-Age fortification and a fine example of a vitrified structure.

Stravanan Bay by John Williams

Glen Callum Bay

Kerrycroy Beach

Kerrycroy has a small red sandy bay on the east coast down towards Mount Stuart, with benches facing towards the water ideally placed for watching the many sailing boats that pass through the Firth of Clyde.  If you’re lucky you might even spot the occasional seal or porpoise too.

Kerrycroy is a distinctive little settlement and many of the houses were built in the 1880s and inspired by the English Arts and Crafts style to provide the English wife of the 3rd Marquess of Bute a reminder of home.

The old quay is a throwback to the early 19th century when there was a small port here with fishing boats and a ferry that connected Bute with Largs on the mainland.

The central building in the village was originally an inn before later being converted to a house.

What was once a busy, working village and port is a much quieter place today.

Kerrycroy by MT Photography

Kilchattan Bay by John Williams

Children’s Corner, Rothesay

A small beach in the town of Rothesay for the children to have a paddle.

There is development happening here this year, early 2023 with a new toddlers play park – pictures to come soon

Postcard of Children’s corner in days gone by

Looking after Bute beaches and shores

Beachwatch Bute