Five Ferries: Days 1 & 2: Bute
,Our island hopping road trip was not the journey originally planned – we had thought of going to Rothesay and Bute for 1 or 2 nights, and then come home. However, with a great weather forecast for the week ahead, we decided to stay in the west for longer to explore further; this is the tale of our Inner Hebridean ferry adventure.
Leaving our home in Edinburgh around 9.30am, we headed East along the M8, through Glasgow and then south to Wemyss Bay where we caught our first ferry of the week.
At the time of writing, many of Caledonian Macbrayne’s (Calmac) ferries are now on a “turn up and go” basis, including our one from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay, and from arriving in the carpark to departure was around 1 hour 15 minutes. The ticket was £24 for our 7m campervan and hubby and I; we considered buying an Island hopscotch ticket, however, there is no discount on the individual sailing prices so to retain maximum flexibility, we bought tickets at each ferry. During Covid times all drivers and passengers must stay inside their vehicle when on a “short route”, if the sea is forecast to be rough then it might be an idea to take sea-sick pills as you cannot see over the side of the ferry and you will be glad it is a short crossing!
Scotland is reputedly awash with campervans in this summer of 2021, so on landing, we headed to the most southerly park-up in Bute listed on the Search4Sites app, a small space listed south of the village of Kilchattan Bay. Having spotted a few campervans on the roads and also parked up on our drive over the Island of Bute, we were worried we might not find a space for the night, but we were in luck and there was plenty of room for us there.
Once set up, we walked into the village and had a cup of coffee at the Kilchattan Bay Tea Room; lovely rich coffee served in a cafetiere and consumed on a picnic table overlooking the Bay.
Dinner, prepared in the van, was cherry tomato and anchovy risotto, which we ate whilst watching a heron, oystercatchers, various other seabirds and a porpoise in the distance. There was a beautiful sunset too, rather late since we were just past the summer solstice, but most enjoyable as the setting sun cast the last of its orange light over the waters of the bay.
Next day we headed in to explore Rothesay which is a charming old town with a relatively healthy high street, a beautiful park with a sign directly on the Highland boundary faultline, where we had fun stepping between the Highlands and the Lowlands with only one pace!
We took the chance to shop at the relatively large Co-op and I was pleased with the variety of gluten free food available – far more than I would have expected to find in a small town!
Our second night was spent in the car park at Scalpsie Bay which was a great spot for amazing views plus a good walk up to the cairn at the top of the hill. We wandered up there in the afternoon, then back for sunset (when it was bloomin’ freezin but worth it for the incredible sunset over Arran and Cowal!) and once again in the morning. There are a few walks in the area, and a great viewing point with a board to help you identify all the landmarks.
We were actually on our own for the night – where were the rest of the campervans?
Next morning we had a leisurely breakfast, observing island life, including watching some sheep being herded along the road and the double decker open-topped tourist bus negotiating the narrow roads, as well as chatting to some other tourists before heading north to catch our ferry to Cowal.
Read about the rest of our trip by clicking the links below