The beautiful beaches of Bute!

Bute is perhaps the most accessible of Argyll’s islands. Thanks to this, and a balmy climate, it has been a popular Scottish holiday spot for well over a century. This compact island has got it all: splendid architecture, glorious gardens and wonderful wildlife. But one of the best things about Bute must be its beaches, most of which are found of the island’s wild and remote west coast. Here are five beaches on Bute that will take your breath away!

5 Bute Beaches worth a visit

1. Ettrick Bay

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 Dunoon & Cowal and the neighbouring island of Arran. On a warm day, you can paddle or swim in the clear waters. The facilities are great, with car parking, toilets, picnic areas and a children’s play area. At the start of the beach Ettrick Bay Tearoom serves up ice cream, excellent lunches and mouth-watering cakes. Tuck into the meringues after a stomp along the sand!

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 on 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Kilchattan Bay

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.

5. 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.

Getting to Bute

Bute is considered the most accessible island off the west coast of Scotland. It’s just 50 minutes away from Glasgow by road or rail, followed by a 35-minute CalMac ferry crossing from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay. Another CalMac ferry runs from Colintraive to Rhubodach, taking less than five minutes. 

Staying on Bute

There is a variety of accommodation available on Bute, such as the Boat House Super Suite in Rothensay. 

Looking for something more unique? Stay at the Charcoal Huts in Bute Forest to truly immerse yourself in the quiet and peaceful woodland landscape. 

Visiting Bute? Discover more things to see & do whilst exploring the island.

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