Scottish West Coast holiday – Portavadie Marina and Isle of Bute

After we departed the Isle of Arran, we made a quick stop over at Tarbert for lunch, while waiting for the connecting ferry to Portavadie Marina. I guess I still have the kid in me and every time we go aboard a ferry it’s an exciting ‘holiday’ feeling, so having two trips in a day was a treat. During both ferry trips we were on the lookout for seals and even dolphins as we were told some had been spotted earlier that day!

We had booked two nights at Portavadie Marina after finding it by chance and surprise a few years ago when we were driving in the area! We had a nice Studio Apartment, self-catering which made it a little more flexible. On arrival there was a nice card and chocolates from the team!

We had a small terrace and from there enjoyed a beautiful sunrise on the first night!


First morning on the West Cowal coast we were heading for a small road trip, we wanted to go back to the Otter Ferry Bar, as we had been a few year ago. Unfortunately this was not open the day we visited, weekends only when out of season. We still went for a lovely walk along the waterfront of the famous Loch Fyne.





Next stop was Tighnabruaich view point, which on a good day gives you beautiful view towards the top of the Isle of Bute and down the Loch. We drove to the village of Tighnabruaich and stopped off in the small Shinty Bar in the local hotel. They had a rather interesting collection of photos from the local game Shinty, which most of were in black and white. Nice selection of ales and also good hearty Scottish lunch was served.


When we arrived back to Portavadie mid-afternoon, we decided to go and try out the local West Cowal Way walk before the sun would set that evening. This took us around the coast and inland towards a small area which were once a village, we only walked a couple of miles so did not see too much of the walk, an excuse to return (not that we need one!).


The following morning was the exciting Solar Eclipse. There best time to watch this would be about 9:35am. In true Scottish style, we enjoyed a misty and cloudy morning, despite this I made my way to the Marina front to hopefully capture a bit of the eclipse! They had kindly provided tea and coffee for the spectators of the morning. I am delighted that for only a few seconds the clouds cleared and we managed to get a brief view of the eclipse.


Before we left we had a tour by the manager, of the marina rooms, apartments and their facilities. It was also great to both see and hear about their new extension with an outdoor pool, leisure facilities and new restaurant. We’ll be back to try these out!





Onwards towards the Isle of Bute the drive went. We arrived and the sun came out, which was wonderful and fantastic to see. We now had two days to explore ‘the unexplored isle’! When we passed the Tighnabruaich view point, we managed to get a slightly better view than the day before.


We arrived on the Isle of Bute ‘the unexplored isle’



Before we reached our hotel, we made a quick stop at a little bird hide we came across. We spotted a few seals, swans and a few other sea birds, nice way to start our time on the island.


When we arrived into Rothesay, which is the biggest town on the island, we got checked into our hotel and went for a wonder around the town and by the harbour. It was great to just wonder about by the harbour and the very manicured and award winning gardens they have in the centre.






Even the local wildlife enjoyed nice a fresh shell fish!


The view from our balcony on the first morning on the island, not bad really!

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A small village we passed on route to our walk


On the second day on the island we had decided to do the Kilchattan Bay loop of the West Island Way, which is approx. 5 miles (depending on how many detours you make to take photos, I did lots!) The official West Island Way was launched in the year 2000 and runs the length of the Isle of Bute, with some stunning and dramatic scenery!


My first aim was to get to the top of St Blanes Hill, which was at the tip of the island. From here we would get a beautiful view across to the Isle of Arran. Especially as we were there in the morning, the morning sun made the Isle of Arran glow even more than usual, beautiful!



From there we followed the route (backwards in fact) towards Kilchattan. Despite us going the opposite way to other walkers, the route is well signposted throughout the walk.


When we got to Glencallum Bay we made a little stop to admire the view and I made another detour to photograph the very photogenic lighthouse. There was a small group of canoeist who had landed on the shore for lunch, what better way to explore this beautiful part of the island.





We made another stop in the little village Kilchattan, which also is a very picturesque and the was a few people practicing in their small aeroplanes on the local airbase on the island, so we watched them, while enjoying the sunny weather we’ve had the whole day.



We finished off our walk with a late lunch at the Kingarth Hotel, this turned out to be one of the best seafood platters I’ve ever had. Despite it being a beautiful afternoon, we were the only ones to take the opportunity to sit out and enjoy the sun!



On route back towards Rothesay we made a stop at the Scalpsie Bay viewing point, which again had some outstanding views across the bay and towards the Isle of Arran.



When we arrived back to Rothesay we made our way to the top of a small hill, via this small windy little road. From here you get a fantastic view across the city, harbour and bay.


Our last nights sunset over Rothesay Bay and I also managed to get a nice shot of the moon shining down one the bay and also trying to replicate the eclipse we saw a few days earlier!



On our last morning on the Island, we had a walk around the centre of Rothesay. Only a stone throw away from the harbour, you will find Rothesay Castle, an unusual circular shape for a Scottish Castle and with a small moat make it an attractive site to visit.


Before we left we enjoyed a the final view of the manicured gardens by the towns waterfront and harbour.





‘Haste Ye Back’ I’ve heard a few descriptions for this in the past, ‘hurry up and come back’ or ‘come back soon’, both which I am sure we will!



If you are looking for further inspiration and ideas on what to do one the Isle of Bute, I would recommend you visit my fellow Scotlanders, Susanne’s blog

You can also find further events and activities on

Thank you for reading!

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