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  • Writer's pictureLesley McLaren

Bute West Island Way - Day 1

Updated: May 2, 2021

10 Mile Cycle / 23km hike

Kiltwalk 2021 in aid of Mind Mosaic

An early departure from Greenock at 8.30am, with bikes fully loaded plus rucksacks, we made our way to Wemyss Bay to catch the 10am ferry to Bute. I was a little apprehensive about steering with panniers as I’d never done it before but actually it was pretty easy - like falling off a bike! Just a little caution required for the downhills and tight turns.

9 miles later we arrived at the ferry just in time for a breakfast roll in the station cafe since McCaskie’s was closed (a travesty) however the Station Cafe didn’t disappoint with egg rolls all round and some coffee to power the miles ahead. If the Station Cafe is good enough for Madonna, Stella McCartney & Kate Moss, it’s good enough for us. Although I’m betting they weren’t eating stodgy rolls!

We arrived in Rothesay and found the digs fairly quickly. A lovely Air B&B 2 minutes from the ferry and right next to the Co-op for the all important supplies. We jumped on the bus to Kilchattan Bay where we began the walk under blue skies and warm sunshine feeling very lucky indeed.

The trail followed the water for a good few miles along a decent pathl to Glencallum Bay - a beach I know well from kayaking to many times. I’m sad to report though that the beach was full of litter. Clearly this little known spot has been frequented by those ‘tossers’ who want to enjoy a beautiful spot but leave it like a toilet for the rest of us. I’ll be there next week on a kayak trip (hopefully) so I intend to clean up the beach at that time and take the rubbish away if it hasn’t already made it’s way into the Clyde or strangled the local wildlife.

We moved quickly through the bay and soon the route climbed upwards with Arran coming into to clear view - what a sight on such a beautiful day. I have been in awe of the view many times today. Bute is such a bonnie place and somewhere I never tire of. Next, we reached the ruins of St Blane’s Chapel where we stopped for a welcome break. Vicky had made some of her fantastic hummus - a secret V,Diddy recipe which we scoffed with bread and oat cakes. Fuelled up, we charged on passing wee lambs and sheep wandering free all over the place.

Further on, I heard a woodpecker in the woods for the first time ever. As a drumming nerd, I can confirm it was a 9 stroke roll it was knocking out. As we watched Ludo & Rob play on the rope swing we discovered, we also heard a cuckoo. Suddenly I feel like quoting Ivor Cutler with all this nature!

Now we were 10km and my feet were starting to ache a bit, slightly disheartening as we had at least 10km to go! Anyway, “The Engine” never tires so onwards we soldiered to a trig point where we enjoyed a snack as the sugar levels were plummeting and some crabbit exchanges had occurred……hangry.

By now were were beginning to imagine the fish supper and the beer which would await at the end and I was relieved when Rob informed me we only had 30 mins to go til we reached Rothesay town. We had been walking for over 5 hours with a 9 miles cycle before that so I was REALLY looking forward to dinner.

At 6pm we arrived back at the billet and immediately cracked open a beer and ordered the fish suppers and a curry. Unfortunately I’d eaten so many crisps waiting on it arrive that I could only eat the fish. Eyes bigger than belly….same old story.

Anyway, we’re now chilling enjoying some tunes and recharging for part 2 tomorrow. Faces well weathered.

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