The West Island Way
The West Island Way, opened in September 2020, is the first long distance way-marked path on any Scottish island. The network of walking and hiking trails covers the whole of Bute and crosses a variety of landscapes including forest, open countryside, beaches and farmland. The Way is usually walked over two full-day walks or over four half-day walks but can also be walked in stages, using a car or public transport to reach the start points.
More information about the West Island Way can be found here: https://www.westislandway.co.uk/
Our favourite part of the West Island Way is the Kilchattan Bay Circular (5 miles, 8km), which represents the official start of the Way. This is an easy circular walk of around 2.5 - 3 hours (the start and finish point being Kilchattan, easily accessible using a regular bus service from Rothesay) and takes you to the Southerly point of Bute, accessible only on foot. The path crosses beaches and farmland and allows you to walk right across the centre of Bute from the West Coast to the East Coast. The path initially runs down the South East coast, giving panoramic views across the Firth of Clyde towards the Glasgow coast. Upon crossing the most Southerly point (where there is the most amazing beach, accessible only by foot), the path turns north and starts to follow the West side of the island.
At this point the Way soon passes by the ruins of St Blane's Chapel. There has been a religious site here since the 500s when St Catan established a monastery which was eventually abandoned in the wake of Viking raids. At one time St Blane’s served the whole of the Isle of Bute but it fell into disuse following the Protestant Reformation.