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Bute or the Isle of Bute (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Bhòid or Eilean Bhòdach) is an island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. The Isle of Bute is 15 miles long and 3 miles wide, and is separated from the mainland of Scotland by a narrow channel called the Kyles of Bute. Much of the island consists of low hills, more reminiscent of Dorset than the Scottish Highlands. The south of the island is flatter than the north, and more fertile. Bute benefits from the warm Gulf Stream that enables palms and other tender plants to grow. In its heyday the Isle of Bute, and Rothesay in particular, was a magnet for tourists from Glasgow, Scotland.

Farming and tourism are the main industries on the island, along with fishing and forestry.

Open Water Swimming

Mark Beaumont swam from Arran to the Isle of Bute in 2013.

Mount Stuart Castle on the Isle of Bute will be site of the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference and 2014 International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and the 2014 WOWSA Awards (World Open Water Swimming Association awards ceremony).


Bute lies in the Firth of Clyde. The only town on the island, Rothesay, is linked by ferry to the mainland. Villages on the island include Kilchattan Bay, Kingarth and 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. The highest hill is Kames Hill at 267 metres. 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 fault line.

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. Villages on the western side of the island include Straad, around St. Ninian's Bay, and Kildavanan on Ettrick 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 300 metres (330 yd), and takes only a few minutes but is busy because many tourists prefer the scenic route to the island.

North Bute forms part of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area, one of 40 in Scotland.


Bute is connected with the Scottish mainland by two Caledonian MacBrayne ferries: Rothesay to Wemyss Bay and Rhubodach to Colintraive. During summer, the paddle steamer Waverley calls at Rothesay on regular cruises.

There is a regular bus service along the eastern coast road, and a daily service connecting the island with Argyll and the western Highlands and Islands. Many independent holidaymakers use the island as a stepping stone from Glasgow and Ayrshire to western Scotland using this route. In summer an open-top bus tours the island leaving from Guildford Square by the ferry at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The main ferry to the island leaves from Wemyss Bay, a village on the A78, the coast road between Glasgow and Ayr. Wemyss Bay is connected by rail to Paisley (for Glasgow International Airport) and Glasgow Central station. Prestwick Airport (used by RyanAir and several other airlines) is connected directly to Wemyss Bay by FASTBUS 585, which runs twice an hour.

There is an ad hoc link between Glasgow Pacific Quay and Port Bannatyne Marina by Loch Lomond Seaplanes, journey time 17 minutes.

Mount Stuart House

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 third Marquess 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 paintings. 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.

Activities and workshops are often held there in the summer by a local organisation that provides after school clubs and activities in the school holidays; there is also the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, the 2014 International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and the 2014 WOWSA Awards held in the house.


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