A trip to the Isle of Bute

May 12, 2016

Recently we make a trip to the Isle of Bute. We were taking a short break at Parkdean, Wemyss Bay. This is a caravan park situated on the west coast of Scotland overlooking the Firth of Clyde. The caravan park is set on a hill in a quiet wooded area with stunning views across the bay. We really enjoyed our stay and were happy that Parkdean Wemyss Bay allowed us to have a dog friendly holiday. It meant we could take our dog, Eddie with us and he also came when we went exploring the local area. I have always wanted to explore the Scottish Islands so we decided to take a trip to the Isle of Bute which is very close to Wemyss Bay.

Ferry to Bute Parkdean Wemyss Bay

Where is the Isle of Bute?

Bute is a small island found on the west coast of Southern Scotland in the Firth of Clyde. Wemyss Bay is about an hours drive from Glasgow and during Victorian times was a popular holiday destination. The island is only around 15 miles long and less than 5 miles wide but has plenty of varied scenery. You will find lush rolling hills in the heart of the island, craggy heather covered moor in the north and lovely sandy beaches around the coast. The Gulf Stream passes the Isle of Bute which gives it a mild climate and you will find palm trees growing here. There is one town on the island, Rothesay, which is the capital of Bute.

How to get to the Isle of Bute

The main way to get to the Isle of Bute is to take the CalMac (Caledonian MacBrayne) ferry from Wemyss Bay. The ferry port is right next to the Wemyss Bay station which can be reached by taking a train from Glasgow. The ferry station is at the bottom of the hill from the caravan park and really easy to find. We drove into the ferry station and purchased tickets on site. There is no need to book in advance, the sailings are frequent and you can just go on the next available sailing. The return tickets cost £21.90 for the car, £6.10 for an adult and £3.10 for a child aged between 5 and fifteen. Children under five and dogs travel free. While we waited to get on the ferry we watched the ferries sailing across the Firth. We also had a look at Wemyss Bay station which is a Victorian station. There are lovely views across the bay and the mountains in distance were still covered with snow.

Ferry to Isle of Bute from Wemyss Bay

View across Wemyss Bay from the ferry port

Wemyss Bay Station

View from Wemyss Bay ferry port

Soon we were driving onto the ferry and leaving the car on the car deck took our seats on the ferry. Eddie, our dog, was not quite sure what to make of the experience but was soon looking out the window. There were plenty of seats on board. Some had tables and you could buy refreshments from the cafe. There was also a seating area at the front so you could see where you were going. There were plenty of other dogs on board. The trip to the Isle of Bute took around 35 minutes and we were able to walk around the deck and see where we were going. It was a little windy though so we did not stay out too long. Soon we could see Rothesay appearing in front of us.

Ferry from Isle of Bute

Leaving Wemyss Bay on the ferry

Me and Eddie on the Isle of Bute ferry

Isle of Bute

You can also get to Bute by taking a five minute ferry crossing from Colintraive on the Cowal Peninsula to Rhubodach near the northern tip of Bute, about 8 miles from Rothesay.

What to do on the Isle of Bute


The Victorian seaside town of Rothesay is the first place you see when you disembark from the ferry. It is a bustling seaside town. If you are interested in local history, geology and wildlife you can visit the Bute Museum on Stuart Street. The tourist information centre is found on Victoria Street, it has exhibitions and displays about the island. One of the more unusual attractions in Rothesay are the Victorian toilets on the pier. All the fittings are original dating from 1899. They are gentleman’s toilets but guided tours are given each day. You can also visit Rothesay Castle which is set in a moat atop a mound in Rothesay. The castle contains Scotland’s only circular wall with four round towers that were added after the Vikings invaded. Admission charges apply.

Ardencraig Gardens

Ardencraig Gardens are found to the east of Rothesay and as well as a wide range of plants have aviaries containing exotic birds and also fish ponds. There is a tea room on the site for refreshments. Admission is free. The gardens are open to the public from May to September.

Ascog Hall Fernery and Gardens

Found on the road south out of Rothesay Ascog Hall Fernery and gardens are a 3 acre site which contain a sunken Victorian fernery which is fed by spring water. It contains many ferns including a 1,000 year old Todea Barbara or King Fern which survives from the original collection. There are also many unusual shrubs and trees found the the gardens. Open from April to October.

Mount Stuart House and Gardens

Having visited Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland I was intrigued that the Isle of Bute also has a Mount Stuart. Located about five miles south of Rothesay it is a Victorian gothic house with beautiful gardens and amazing architecture inside. Set in 300 acres of woodland, guided walks are available for those who wish. The house is open from May to September.

We enjoyed our trip to the Isle of Bute although having visited slightly early in the season some of the places were not open. I would love to go back some day and explore some more. I have put together a list of dog friendly places to visit in and around Wemyss Bay which you may also like to look at.  Have you ever visited Bute? What did you enjoy about your trip? Do let me know below.

Visiting the Isle of Bute

10 responses to “A trip to the Isle of Bute”

  1. Galina V says:

    Fantastic views! I don’t know much about Bute, but I remember singing a song to little Sasha about sailing to the Isle of Bute. Eddie and you look lovely too.

  2. Ooh wow Alison, that looks like it was a great place to visit, so beautiful. OH & I love visiting Scotland, but sadly don’t get to visit there as often as we’d like. We’ve never been to Bute, but we did spend a lovely few days on the Isle of Mull a couple of years ago; it’s certainly somewhere where we’d love to visit again.
    Angela x

  3. sounds like a lovely day trip while you were in area anyway. I have to admit the area is beautiful as we live not that far away. Not been to the island myself but the scenery on the drive to the area is stunning as I am sure it is from the island. The islands are do able in a day with a lot of history on any of them, and geocaches as well if you want to add an extra interest for the children.
    Nice to find a dog friendly holiday, we need to start looking for them.

  4. I’d heard of the Isle of Bute but I have to admit that I didn’t know where it was exactly! Looks like you had a really fun trip and with lots of gardens to visit

  5. Laurie Wade says:

    We went twice during our week at Parkdean caravan site. First trip ,with my wife and nine year old grandaughter was by car, the second trip, at my grandaughter’s request was as pedestrian passengers on the ferry and both trips were extremely enjoyable, and strangely, totally different experiences. I would recommend doing both, you see different things, in different ways.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: