Bute is a lovely place to walk. It is fairly low lying so there are no strenuous climbs, just 360 degrees of beautiful views. From the lovely routes that make up the West Island Way to the trials and paths through the Bute Community Forest, there are plenty of walks to choose from. Everyone on Bute will be happy to tell you their favourite walks or pick up a map and go on your own new adventure.
West Island Way
The West Island Way was officially opened in 2000 by Janet Street-Porter,the journalist and former president of the Ramblers Association. The route runs the length of the island for about 25 miles (40km) and can be accessed from various points if you want to split the journey. The views of the island and the seascapes are fantastic and make a walk along the route more than worthwhile. The West Island Way was the first waymarked long distance island footpath in Scotland. You could walk it between one and five days but it is best walked over two. It crosses a dramatic landscape, with a beautiful coastline, beaches, farmland, the moors, and forests. Pick up a Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme Map from most local shops to find your way round the West Island Way and along other walks.
The route is now part of the Scotland’s Great Trails network it can easily be broken down into a series of shorter walks as listed blow:
Kilchattan Bay Loop (4.5 miles)
This loop begins and ends in Kilchattan Bay.
It takes in the coast, with amazing views and the nationally significant site of St Blane’s chapel. Although short, it can be strenuous with some rough terrain.
Kilchattan Bay – Langalbuinoch (2.5 miles)A short, flat easy section. You’ll be tempted to linger on Stravannan beach and watch the sun set over Arran.
Langalbuinoch – Rothesay (6 miles)
This section has an enormous variety of scenery; from beautiful views of Arran, over moorland with short forest sections and past two of Bute’s lochs. It has some long, gentle climbs and some conveniently placed seats for a rest.
Rothesay – Glen More (Ettrick Bay) (5 miles)This section leaves the town and takes to the hills above Rothesay from which there are great views. Come down into Port Bannatyne for a wonderful coffee at the Post Office and then walk the old Tramway route to Ettrick Bay.
Glen More (Ettrick Bay) – Rhubodach (6 miles)
Glen More is a winding and peaceful glen with a deserted township. At the top of the glen the path enters the forest, then winds its way down to Rhubodach and the ferry to Colintraive.
Rhubodach – Port Bannatyne (5 miles)
This is a long walk across rough and steep moorland, waymarked but without a clear path on the ground. The views are stunning in all directions, but careful navigation is essential, especially in inclement weather – take some time to read the safety note on the map.
You can buy a copy of the West Island Way map at the Discovery Centre on the esplanade.
Bute Community Forest
The Forest at the northern tip of Bute that was acquired by the community has some lovely easy walks. Kids can explore a couple of forest trails and if you are feeling fit you can venture deeper in the woods and up the hills. The views are great. There’s a load of more detailed information on the forest website. CLICK HERE to visit it.