Isle of Bute

Isle of Bute

Infobox Scottish island |

celtic name=Eilean Bhòid
norse name=Bót
meaning of name=Brythonic root "budh" meaning 'corn'
area=12,217 ha
area rank=13
highest elevation= Windy Hill 278 m
population rank=5
main settlement=Rothesay
island group=Firth of Clyde
local authority=Argyll and Bute
references= [2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland] [Haswell-Smith, Hamish. (2004) "The Scottish Islands". Edinburgh. Canongate.] [Anderson, Joseph (Ed.) (1893) "Orkneyinga Saga". Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Edinburgh. James Thin and Mercat Press (1990 reprint). ISBN 0-901824-25-9]

The Isle of Bute ("Eilean Bhòid" in Gaelic) is one of the islands of the lower Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Formerly part of the county of Buteshire, it now constitutes part of the council area of Argyll and Bute. In the 2001 census (conducted in April 2001) it had a resident population of 7,228. However, many flats are in fact summer holiday homes, and in winter there are probably fewer than 5,000 people on the island.Fact|date=February 2007


Bute lies in the Firth of Clyde. The only town on the island, Rothesay (gbmapping|NS087645) is linked by ferry to the mainland. Other villages on the island include:

*Kilchattan Bay
*Port Bannatyne

Bute is divided in two by the Highland Boundary Fault. North of the fault the island is hilly and largely uncultivated with extensive areas of forestry. To the south of the fault the terrain is smoother and highly cultivated although in the far south is to be found the island's most rugged terrain around Glen Callum. Loch Fad is Bute's largest body of freshwater and runs along the faultline.

The western side of Bute is known for its beaches many of which enjoy fine views over the Sound of Bute towards Arran and Bute's smaller satellite island Inchmarnock. Straad is the only village on the west coast, around St. Ninian's Bay.

In the north, Bute is separated from the Cowal peninsula by the Kyles of Bute. The northern part of the island is sparsely populated, and the ferry terminal at Rhubodach connects the island to the mainland at Colintraive by the smaller of the island's two ferries. The crossing is one of the shortest, less than 300m, and takes only a few minutes but is busy because many tourists prefer the scenic route to the island


It is likely that before the Gaels arrived and absorbed Bute into the Cenél Comgall of Dál Riata that the island was home to a people who spoke a Brythonic language (akin to modern day Welsh). Later during the Viking period the island was known as Rothesay and the main town on the island was Bute. Widespread and long term mis-use of the titles was eventually officially recognised and the names were swapped to reflect popular usage.

After the Viking period the island was not granted to the Lord of the Isles as were most of the islands off Scotland's west coast. Instead Bute became the personal property of the Scottish monarchy.

In the 1940s and 1950s Bute served as a large naval headquarters.


Bute is connected with the Scottish mainland by two Caledonian MacBrayne ferries:
*Rothesay to Wemyss Bay
*Rhubodach to Colintraive

In summer the paddle steamer "Waverley" stops at Rothesay on regular cruises.

There is a regular bus service along the eastern coast road, and a daily serviceconnecting the island into Argyll and the western highlands and islands. Many independentholiday-makers use the island as a stepping stone from Glasgow and Ayrshire intowestern Scotland using this route. In summer an open top bus tours the island leaving from GuildfordSquare by the ferry at 1100 and 1300.

The main ferry to the island leaves from Wemyss Bay, a village on the A78, the coast roadbetween Glasgow and Ayr. Wemyss Bay is connected by rail to Paisley (for Glasgow InternationalAirport) and Glasgow Central station. Prestwick Airport (home of RyanAir) is connecteddirectly to Wemyss Bay by FASTBUS 585, which runs twice an hour.


The island has one secondary school, Rothesay Academy, which moved to a new joint campus with Rothesay Primary in 2007. [cite news| url=| title=End of an era at Rothesay Academy| date=28 June 2007| author=Craig Borland| work=Buteman| accessdate=2007-11-11] The largest of the island's three primary schools is Rothesay Primary, the smallest school (comprising roughly 50 pupils) is North Bute Primary in Port Bannatyne. The third primary school, St Andrews Primary is a Catholic School aligned with St Andrews Church, the only Catholic Church on the predominantly Protestant island.


Bute has many sports clubs and activities available. There are 3 golf courses: Rothesay Golf Club, Kingarth Golf Club and Port Bannatyne Golf Club. The local amateur football team are known as the Brandanes, and the junior team are the Brandane Rovers. Bute also has facilities for fishing, rugby, tennis, bowls, shinty and cricket.

The most successful sporting club on the island is Bute Shinty Club who play at the highest level of the sport (the Marine Harvest Premier League). In 2006 Bute won promotion to the Premier League by winning the South Division One. Bute also won The Ballimore Cup and were runners up in the Glasgow Celtic Society Cup in 2006.


Farming and Tourism are the main industries on the island, along with Fishing and Forestry. Privately owned businesses include;
* Telecom Service Centres (TSC)
* Port Bannatyne Marina and Boat Yard
* The Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Company
* Bute Fabrics, a textiles company supported by Mount Stuart House
* The Scottish Mead Company


Architectural attractions on the island include the ruined twelfth century St Blane's Chapel on a site associated with Saint Catan and Saint Blane, who was born on Bute. Another ruined chapel, dating from the sixth century, lies at St Ninian's Point.

The eccentric Mount Stuart House is often cited as one the world's most impressive neo-Gothic mansions, bringing many architectural students from Glasgow on day-trips. The 3rd Marquis had a passion for art, astrology, mysticism and religion and the house reflects this in the architecture, furnishings and art collection. There is a marble chapel, much stained glass and walls of Old Masters, many depicting members of The Royal Family and of the Stuart family. The house is open at Easter and from May to October. There are gardens with plants imported from many parts of the world, and a Visitor Centre. The gardens host a number of events throughout the year starting with an Easter Parade. In 2003 the fashion designer Stella McCartney married in the chapel, generating intense media interest.

The Pavilion is a 1930s edifice housing a concert hall, workshops and cafe, and noted for its architecture. The Pavilion is little changed from when it was built.

Rothesay Castle was built 800 years ago by the hereditary High Steward of Scotland.

Ascog Hall Fernery and Gardens are a renovated Victorian residence and glass-house containing shrubs and plants from all over the Empire, including a fern believed to be over 1,000 years old.

Loch Fad is a deep freshwater loch stocked with pike and brown trout available to visiting tourist fishermen. Boats are available to hire.

The Old Post Office now used only for sorting mail, is an historic working post office (open mornings only) which houses artifacts of the early post, some from before the advent of the postage stamp.

Scalpsie Bay has a colony of over 200 seals on its beach, which must be reached by foot across the fields. The island also has many herds of deer, rich bird-life and some large hares. Wild goat with large curled horns may be seen in the north of the island.

Port Bannatyne, a village towards the north of the island, is the centre for sailing and sea-fishing on the island. It has two boat yards and a marina for 200 vessels under construction. Langoustines are fished by creels anchored in the bay. X-Class midget submarines were stationed in Kames Bay during World War II and there is a memorial to WWII dead. Port Bannatyne also boasts the CAMRA Scottish Pub of the Year 2005. Port Bannatyne Golf Club is known for scenic views from the course.

The road from Port Bannatyne goes seven miles along the waters-edge of the Kyles of Bute until it reaches the minor ferry over to Colintraive on the Argyll mainland.

The 1920s Winter-Gardens (Now the "Discovery Center") close to the Rothesay Pier houses a small cinema and tourist information office. Nearby are the Victorian Toilets.

There are a variety of music, folk and poetry festivals, and walking trails and new cycling routes. There are a variety of remote Bronze Age stone circles, an iron-age fortified village, and early Christian remains (including St. Blane's Chapel). The Bute Museum of the island's history is situated behind Rothesay Castle.

Famous people

Famous Bute people include
*Lord Attenborough, film director has made a home on the island;
*Andrew Bannatyne (1798 - 1871), politician, lawyer and businessman; [cite web| url=| title=Andrew Bannatyne| author=Gazetteer for Scotland| accessdate=2007-04-07] [cite web| url=| title=Andrew Bannatyne| author=Glasgow Digital Archive| accessdate=2007-04-07]
*Adam Crozier, chief executive of the Royal Mail
*George Leslie Hunter, colourist painter;
*Edmund Kean, Shakespearen actor; [cite web| url=| title=Edmund Kean|| accessdate=2007-04-07]
*Sir William MacEwen FRS 1848 - 1924, surgeon;
*John William Mackail, writer and scholar;
*John Sterling, critic, journalist and poet;
*Major-General John Barton Sterling, John Sterling's son;
*Lena Zavaroni, singer was born and grew up in Rothesay;
*The current Marquis of Bute is former Formula 1 racing driver Johnny Dumfries.
*Lieutenant Henry Robertson (Birdie) Bowers (1883-1912) Polar Explorer
*Leane "Tinky", One true legend of Bute.Fact|date=November 2007
*Ashley Lilley actress from Rothesay, played the role of Ali in the 2008 film adaptation of "Mama Mia":


The Isle of Bute is known in entomological circles as the "island of fleas" due to fifteen species having been identified on Bute and reported to the Royal Entomological Society.Fact|date=September 2007


External links

* [ Isle of Bute community site]
* [ Mount Stuart House]
* [ CAMRA Scottish Pub of the Year]
* [ Bute Sons & Daughters project]
* [ Bute Gateway (local facilities)]
* [ Tourist Information]
* [ Isle of Bute V-Day website (dedicated to the Island's WWII contribution)]
* [ Local Information and Discussion Forum]
* [ The Buteman (local newspaper)]
* [ ButeWiki]
* [ Sailing reviews and news]
* [ Bute in Pictures, BBC News]
* [ Bute on BBC Island Blogging]

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