The West Island Way

The official start of the West Island Way at the South of Bute by Kilchattan Bay

Map showing the complete 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:

View across the Kyles of Bute from the World War II bunker at the North of Bute

The Southerly part of the West Island Way
The Southerly part of the West Island Way

The lighthouse at the most Southerly point on Bute, accessible only on foot

The beach at the most Southerly point of Bute

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.

St Blane's Church - a short detour from the West Island Way takes you to this ruined church, on the site of a former Monastery

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.