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The beautiful beaches of Bute!

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!

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. 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 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.

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.

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.

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. It’s just a short walk to the Kingarth Hotel, a traditional country inn and pub serving up the most delicious home-cooked food. Nearby St Blane’s Chapel, an atmospheric ruined church, is also worth a visit.

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.

Find out more about things to see and do on Bute.

Photography by MT Photography. Header photo Ettrick Bay.
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