The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

Home Travel StoriesBute And Kintyre 2019

The Beauty of Bute

Ride Date 14 May 2019

By Ren Withnell

The problem with the sloping site is Sharon on her slippery thermal mat thing in her slidy sleeping bag has been slithering to the bottom of the tent all night. This morning she's practically using the foot of the tent as a hammock by the time I wake her. 

There's something else wrong with Sharon. Waking her these last 14 years has been a fearful event. The language is foul. The curses most heinous. The groans and moans and threats of violence would bring terror to the hearts of the most heroic of warriors. Sharon does not "do" mornings.

Waking her still fills me with trepidation. She continues to make gaining conciousness look like reanimation of the deceased. And yet the curses are less vile and the language is merely unpleasant. It is still a long, drawn out and painful affair but it brings rudimentary awareness safely as long as tea is offered from a safe distance. Things are improving, maybe age is softening her a bit.

Eventually she is vertical then dressed then washed then fed then ready to ride. The sun is out, thankfully the air is still cool. Should be a good day this. 

Sharon chooses not to ride, opting to go pillion on the back of my bike. In several ways I'm both glad and perhaps just a little envious. We're here to explore and to see, not to be carving corners so our pace will be gentle. Sharon can sit and relax, look around and notice things I may miss as my attention must be split between the road and the surroundings.

Maybe one day she can ride and I'll go on the back. Erm, nope. I trust Sharon's riding but I don't trust her little legs' ability to hold up her, her motorcycle and my lardy ass swinging high up on the back seat. No matter how determined she is, no matter how much her skills grow, she'll never be tall.

Right, off we go. I take a random turning from the campsite and soon we're meandering down a single track lane towards places and things unknown. It's pretty. Lush green farmland, trees and hedges, all framed with the sea loch in the background and the mainland, slightly misty, out on the horizon. Yeah, it's alright this is. 

We've barely set out when it's time to stop. Kerrycroy bay has nothing more than a handful of houses and bungalows, a crescent shaped beach and a chap walking a dog. We talk to the dog walker. 

He lives in one of the houses here and other than the fact he can't fit proper double glazing due to some kind of preservation order, life is good. Idyllic scenery, cheap crossings to the mainland with good connections, next to no crime and mild weather. It makes for a heart warming exchange to meet someone so comfortably at ease with the world.

4 pretty houses, a large green a quiet lane and a chap walking away with his dog
It's a mean, hard and cruel world aint it.
grass runs to a shallow beach with mountains in the misty distance across the waters
Sometimes it can get ugly too.

Everyone and all the promotional flyers insist we need, must, just have to see Mount Stuart. It's amazing, it's beautiful, it is perhaps one of the best country houses in the UK. We roll into the car park, have a brief think then decide naaaaah, there's an island to explore.

Kilchatton Bay is slightly more populous with such modern trappings as a post office and a church. We stop, take our snapshots, read the tourist information board and carry on. 

Sharon stands on a small harbour wall overlooking a very calm Clyde estuary
I've told her not to wander off alone, she can't swim very well. 

Black Park has 3 ancient standing stones. I sense some disappointment from Sharon, perhaps she was expecting Stonehenge with a tartan twist? They are simply 3 large boulders set on their side which no doubt carried huge significance to some ancient tribe countless years ago. Alas today they stand amidst a recently harvested commercial forest so there's not even the shade of non-indigenous pines to offer some dark mystery to the place.

Sharon leans against one of the 3 standing stones on open ground with tree stumps all around
It's not Stonehenge and now there's no trees. Sorry sweetie.

Scalpsie Bay is pretty seen from the viewing point with the omni-presence of Arran's angular peaks across the water. The view is even better when the coach load of OAPs finally drives away. Glecknabae sees the road turn to farm track and Sharon bounced vigorously on the rear seat as I stand on the pegs. Bute is a beaut of an Isle made all the more beautiful in the radiant sunshine that threatens but never quite reaches "too hot". 

Across on the north eastern side of the Isle a broader road with 2 lanes runs from Port Bannatyne to Rhubodach where the ferry is. It has been a delight to explore the back lanes and single track today though it also feels good to open the taps and frolic along this smooth fast road. The mainland, just across the sea loch, it looks, it feels, it smells of The Highlands. Aaaaaaahhh my spiritual home.

The ferry from Bute to the mainland on the northern tip. Blue skies, tree covered hills and the calm loch
We'll be on this tub tomorrow. I just love a good ferry.

I like Bute. I recall a marketing catchphrase from some now long forgotten advert, "big enough to cope, small enough to care". I'd say Bute is big enough to be interesting, small enough to not be impersonal. That said we've had a good look around and seen enough. Tomorrow we'll move on the the ultimate purpose of this vacation, The Kintyre Peninsula. 

Best make Sharon some tea first, she's starting to get "hangry".


Tell us your tale - click here.

Bute And Kintyre - But Why? Ren is trying to justify why he's not taking Sharon abroad to exotic places. He blames Brexit but we all know the real reason is because he's mean and miserly.
Getting Mentally And Physically Ready Before Sharon leaves for Scotland she's both excited and yet pensive? She's normally a chilled out traveller so what is different this time?
Ayr For The Third time Familiar roads to familiar places, theoretically, if Sharon can work out which way is up.
Air Head To Ayr Sharon is having one of those days. Still, she's keeping positive and her motorcycle upright.
Boating To Bute An easy and leisurely ride up the coast of Ayrshire and an evening on the Isle of Bute.
The Beauty of Bute Is Bute a Beaut? It's a most peculiar day to find out though. There's no rain and a big yellow thing in the sky.
The Long Way To Machrihanish Using ferries to get from Bute to Machrihanish ought to be a most pleasant and easy ride. So how do Sharon and Ren manage to turn it into an epic exploit?
Exploring The Mull Of Kintyre A little look around The Mull Of Kintyre on two wheels and a short walk that Ren makes a big thing of.
Of Batteries and Glendaruel A bit of an issue this morning. Can Ren pull himself out the poop or will Sharon simply tear him limb from limb? Serves him right for being an idiot.

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