Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Isle of Bute and the West Island Way



Two weeks off and we are getting hit with a heatwave like never before. In an effort to not waste my days doing nothing (for nothing read drinking cider in the sunshine), I decided to get outside.

The plan for day one was to get the train to Wemyss Bay and then get the ferry over to The Isle of Bute. So that is what I did. Leaving the house, I marched up to Drumfrochar station [a walk in itself] awaiting the train. A short journey later, I was waiting at Wemyss Bay for the boat.



Just shy of the 35 minutes sailing time and Rothesay came into view with disembarkment not long after. I had a bit of time to kill while waiting on the bus so I decided to just wander about.



Rothesay is in the unique situation in that it is a town that has the remains of it's castle in the middle of the town. I was considering a venture inside but knew I'd probably miss the forward connection because although Rothesay is a nice place to go, it was not my destination for the day. Monday's plan was to try and get back into the walking by doing stage one of the West Island Way. Using the local bus service, it was the South of the island for me.

After departing the bus at Kilchattan Bay, it was time to enter the wilderness and start the walk. Even after a short distance, the walking bug definitely came back. And I must say, when you get weather like we've been getting, it makes the Scottish scenery even nicer.

The walk is quite straightforward in terms of pathfinding. The path is clearly defined along a very rocky trail following the shoreline taken you through locks of waist height fern and bracken for the first part.



As you pass the southeast tip of the island, a small detour takes you to quite an unusual sight: the ability to get close to a lighthouse. Back on route and you enter the sweeping curve of Glen Callum Bay. Once you reach the other side of the stony beach, it is time to go up.



From here you can look back and get a full landscape of the bay with lighthouse in the background. Until this point the walk has varied in terrain. There's been rocks, gravel, fern and bracken. For the next wee bit it is back to just flat grass and a lot of thistles.



At the crest of the hill, I was literally stopped in my tracks. Do you know that way when sometimes you see something and know that it will always be engrained on your memory. The above photo [although it does not do it justice] was one of those moments for me. Ahead of you is grassland and then all of a sudden, Arran and all its Goatfell glory come into view. It was a sight to behold.



Following the path, you begin to cross farmland and pass some animals, when all of a sudden in a clearing, you are presented with the ruins of St Blane's Church. I find it fascinating that the ruins are still standing and able to be preserved in such a remote location. It was great to just sit and take in the surroundings before setting off for the final stretch.



Following the path, the last third of the walk takes you through a lot of farmland. A couple of fields later and then it was all downhill back to the village.

I have to admit, this walk should have been relatively easy but due to my crap fitness level at the moment, coupled with the heat it was quite tiring.

The reason for choosing this walk was to ease my way back in and I must say, it was brilliant. I could have probably been done a lot quicker but dues to my crap fitness level moment and the heat it was very tiring. That aside though, this was a nice intro to the potential for doing the remaining three stages of the West Island Way some day.

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