Kayak Bute

Best Kayaking Spots on the Isle of Bute

Plants & Flowers Of Bute

Taking a kayak trip to Bute gives you the opportunity to discover a world of interesting wildlife that takes a trained eye to properly identify and appreciate. Whether you’re looking for seals bobbing their heads above the water, birds of prey wheeling through the sky, or plants growing on the shoreline, Bute is full of wildlife that you have the opportunity to learn about, should you wish to take the time.

Luckily, there are some wonderful resources online that make it easy to name a plant that you’ve found, but what if you want to create a checklist of some iconic plants that you can spot whilst you’re on your kayak trip? This list of classic Bute plants will give you something to keep your eye out for whilst you’re stopping at the shore to camp or take a wizz:

Thrift (Armeria maritima)

Not many locals know this, but the common Thrift is Bute’s county flower. Best spotted between April and July growing in wild bunches along the craggy coastline, the pink flowers of this plant are instantly recognisable and rather lovely. Although it’s most commonly found growing on cliffs, it is being increasingly spotted inland too, so you may spot it on your way to Bute!

Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima)

This plant is one of the most common of its kind around the world, in addition to finding it growing in the sand dunes of Bute, you can also spot this member of the mustard family multiplying across Europe, North Africa and the east coast of North America (where it is considered to be an invasive plant). It can be spotted by its shiny, green leaves and white to light purple flowers.

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)

The Cuckoo Flower’s bloom is one of the heralds of Spring here in Bute, its pale pink flowers can be spotted across meadows, ditches and riverbanks from April onwards. Flowering from April through to June, this is an example of another common plant that calls its home across the UK.

Mossy Cyphel (Minuartia sedoides)

The Mossy Cyphel is a rare plant that you’ll be lucky to spot on a single visit to the North East of Scotland. Growing in mountainous, rocky regions, this plant is easily recognisable by its crowded system of leaves and low mat of petal-less flowers.

Ramping Fumitory (Fumaria capreolata)

This shrub can often be seen scrambling up hedge banks and cliffs during the Winter, when it’s also known to flower. Once confined to the Channel islands, this plant has since broken out to the rest of the UK, where it can be spotted along the coast and in-land for miles around.

A note on invasive plants:

If you happen to spot a large mass of plant matter that doesn’t look like it quite belongs, or are concerned that you’ve come across a plant that is appearing to stifle the surrounding plant life then you may have spotted an invasive plant! Invasive plants effect public and private land across the UK, some of which can lead to some seriously nasty legal implications for those who aren’t aware. If you think you’ve spotted one of these plants then you can inform the local authorities by using iRecord’s reporting feature.

Hotels & Hostels: Places To Stay

You’re bound to receive a warm welcome at one of these places…

If you’re thinking about booking a kayak trip to Bute then you’ll need somewhere to stay!

Whilst many paddlers come up to this part of Scotland to experience the outdoors up close and personal, not every one wants to spend a week wild camping, especially when they’re spending all day out in the elements. Thankfully, for those homebodies who are looking for a more comfortable experience there are a number of excellent B&Bs, hostels and hotels to give you a peaceful night’s sleep so that you can attack the next day with real vim and vigour.

Thanks to the relatively remote locations of these coastal communities it’s relatively rare to see any new builds cropping up. The cost of hiring survey equipment is so high that many developers have chosen to avoid building any new hotels in regional Scotland which has given local people the chance to monopolise on the gap in market. Make sure you book well in advance as many of these places are booked up during peak season.

The Bayview Hotel

Due to the aforementioned costs of developing new property in Bute, you’ll find that many of the large established hotels in the town have been around for quite a while. The Bayview Hotel was built in 1896 and has remained a fixture on the waterfront of Craigmore ever since. Whilst the building itself is old, the rooms have been updated over the years so that a stay here is far from an archaic experience.

Address: 21-22 Mountstuart Rd
Isle of Bute
PA20 9EB
Telephone:​ 01700 505411
Rooms from: £36 for a single room, doubles from £72
Website: http://www.bayviewhotel-bute.co.uk/

The Victoria Hotel

The Victoria Hotel is the perennial rival to the Bayview Hotel, similarly rooted in tradition and vintage style it’s a great choice for paddlers looking for a touch of luxury on their night out. This hotel has been thoughtfully renovated over the years, today it stands as one of the finest establishments in Rothesay and consistently attracts praise from visitors, as well as members of the industry.

Address: 55 Victoria St
Isle of Bute
PA20 0AP
Telephone:​ 01700 500016
Rooms from: £60 for a single room, doubles from £98
Website: http://www.victoriahotelbute.com/

Ivybank Villa

If you’d rather steer clear of the larger hotels then you can always choose to stay at the Ivybank Villa, a recently restored Georgian home that offers a small number of rooms, all of which come complete with a King size bed and Wi-Fi. A full cooked breakfast comes with every room and makes for a fantastic start to any paddler’s day.

Address: Ivybank Villa, Westlands Road, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, PA20 0HQ
Telephone:​ 01700 505064
Rooms from: £90 for a double room and £55 per night for single occupancy
Website: http://www.ivybankvilla.co.uk

Glendale Guest House

Located just a short walk from the town centre of Rothesay, Kier and Fiona own the Glendale Guest House B&B, a former holiday home that was built in 1860. There are ten bedrooms on offer here, all of which come complete with flat screen televisions and Wi-Fi. Breakfast is something of a speciality for the Glendale who proudly serve an impressive range of cooked and cold dishes including a full Scottish breakfast and Smoked Haddock Potato Cake with a Poached Egg.

Address: Glendale Guest House
20 Battery Place
Isle of Bute
Telephone:​ 01700 502329
Rooms from: £70 for a double room and £47 per night for single occupancy
Website: https://glendalebute.com/

Try Out One Of These Excellent Scottish Restaurants

Treat yourself to a meal at one of these excellent eateries!

No kayaking trip to Bute is complete without a hearty meal at one of these restaurants.

At the end of a long day of kayaking you’ll no doubt feel a little drained and whilst you could choose to fire up the cooking stove to make a rustic camping meal, you know that what you really want is a hearty cooked meal at one of Bute’s excellent restaurants.

Scotland is a country that is extremely proud of its food and that includes the tonnes of high quality seafood that is pulled from the Scottish seas each year, as well as the premier standard steaks that are produced from our cows. Whether we’re battering and deep-frying our fish with a punnet of  chips, or serving up a premium sirloin steak, restaurants in Scotland take real pride how they prepare and present their food.

Here’s a list of our favourite all out Scottish restaurants on the Isle of Bute – please make sure to contact the restaurants directly to book a table in advance, as many of these establishments are popular with both locals and visitors:

Harry Haw’s


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nicola Browne (@nicolabrowne_) on

This is a true family favourite and that’s a sure-winner with even the most pickiest of orders. The food at Harry Haw’s is cooked with fresh ingredients and ranges from the traditional (Medallions of Scotch Beef, Haggis Stuffed Chicken) to the more inventive (Thai Coconut Veggie Curry, Pank Deep Fried Brie). For desert there’s something for everyone from a classic Knickerbocker Glory to Harry Haw’s Baked Camembert. There are only 38 covers at this restaurant, so it’s well worth book ahead.

Address: 23-25 High Street
Isle of Bute
Telephone:​ 01700 505857
Opening Times: Monday-Sunday: 12-9pm
Website: https://www.harryhawsbute.co.uk/

Kingarth Hotel Restaurant


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Victoria Alice (@ohheyitstoria) on

Billed as the only country pub in the Isle of Bute, although this historical building was renovated as recently as 2001 many parts of it date as far back as the late 18th century. Open for 364 days of the year, this is a restaurant that has become well known for its quintessential historical style and excellent home-style cookery. You can choose to eat in one of four different areas and choose from an extensive menu offering an extensive selection of classic pub grub dishes.

Address: Kingarth
Isle of Bute
PA20 9LU
Telephone:​ 01700 831662
Opening Times: Monday-Sunday: 12-11pm
Website: http://www.kingarthhotel.co.uk/



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Vicki Agnew (@vicki.agnew_pt) on

We’ve already mentioned the quality of service that’s available at the Victoria Hotel, but it’s certainly worth mentioning that there’s also a fantastic restaurant on site where you can enjoy a number of excellently prepared meals including classic Cullen Skink, a full-blown Steak dinner, as well as a selection of gourmet style burgers.

Address: 55 Victoria St
Isle of Bute
PA20 0AP
Telephone:​ 01700 505411
Opening Times: Monday-Sunday: 10am-10pm
Website: http://www.victoriahotelbute.com/dining.html

Alternative Activities: Beyond Brute

Not quite up for kayaking yet?

We understand that kayaking might not exactly be for everyone but that doesn’t mean that visiting Bute and the surrounding lads of Western Scotland is necessarily off the menu for you…

West Scotland is full of wonderful scenery and rammed with the kinds of fun activities that you’d expect in a country of people who are as proud of their country as the Scottish are.

You might have heard that there are plenty of things to do in North Wales, but there’s even more on offer here in West Scotland. Get in touch with these instructors and tour operators to see what else you could get up to on your next trip to Bute:

Rock Climbing with West Coast Mountain Guides

Having been established in 1988, Alan Kimber set about building a team of instructors that would uphold his high standards for quality instruction and safety. Today his crew of qualified instructors take groups out to all sorts of destinations throughout the year, including climbs up Ben Nevis and Winter climbing introductory courses. Guides and instructors are available to take your around many of the area’s most iconic ascents such as the challenging Cuillin Ride on the Isle of Skye.

SUP Stand Up Paddle-boarding

Whilst kayaking is doubtless a good starter for sport for anyone looking to get a paddle in their hands, there’s a lot to be said for the more recent invention of Stand Up Paddle-boarding (SUP). Wilderness Scotland is now offering a unique opportunity for over-stressed urbanites to escape their city (and their phones) for a weekend of care-free paddling, wild camping and casual nature watching. The price of the package is not to be sniffed at, but its a great way of experience the west coast by water, without sitting in a kayak that is!

Kite Surfing

TRYkitesurfing was set up by open-water swimming champion Mark Deans in 2003 making the centre the longest running in Scotland. Based on Barassie Beach, the school benefits from ideal wind conditions for kite surfing so Mark and his team can get you acquainted with this extreme sport as quickly as possible. Their aim is to be able to take you from complete novice to a confident solo kitesurfer, so that by the time your lesson is finished you’ll have the tools to start kitesurfing by yourself.

Island Hopping

Don’t think that you need to fly all the way out to South East Asia to get a true island hopping experience. Bute and the surrounding areas offer the perfect opportunity for intrepid explorers to bounce across a number of different craggy islands with the option for wild camping on nearly all of them. Whether you choose to take a ferry, hop in a sea kayak, canoe or hire a boat – the Islands of the Firth of Clyde are waiting for you to explore them, all you need to do is get out there!

Hiring Kayaks & Instructors: West Coast

Get to Scotland and get paddling!

Kayaking on the West Cost of Scotland is easy with the help of these businesses…

Arisaig Sea Kayak Centre

Mike Martin is the man behind Arisaig Sae Kayak Centre a professionally run outfit that offers a number sea kayak activities and courses to get stuck into. Mike holds the highest level of sea leadership qualifications in addition to a number of Advanced water coaching certificates making him a fully qualified kayak coach in any sea state. The Arisaig coastlines is famed for its turquoise waters and white sand beaches, all of which you can admire from the comfort of a sturdy sea kayak.

Website: https://arisaigseakayakcentre.co.uk/
Email: arisaigseakayakcentre@gmail.com

Sea Kayak Argyll & Bute

If you’d rather take to the water a little closer to Bute then Phil from Sea Kayak Argyll & Bute is the man to see. Phil takes dozens of organised trips out all across the world each year, in addition to offering specialist training in a number of areas such as Rolling, Outdoor First Aid and Sea Survival. Of course, a man such as this is in much demand and, as a result, he often finds himself booked for months so it’s best to get in touch with him as much in advance as possible.

Website: https://www.seakayakargyllandbute.com/
Email: phil@seakayakargyll.co.uk

National Kayak School

Oban is a must-visit tourist destination that should be on any visitor’s agenda, hiring a kayak from Sea Kayak Oban gives you the opportunity to experience this place from a completely different perspective. In addition to running their own independent sea kayak shop, the owners also offer day trips and courses for visitors hoping to see what this attractive part of the Scottish coast has to offer. Trips can be taken out to the neighbouring isles of Mull, Iona and Colonsay, to name a few.

Website: http://www.nationalkayakschool.com/
Email: info@nationalkayakschool.co.uk

Loch Goil Kayak Hire

Located right on the edge of Loch Goil you’ll find Carrick Farm, a peaceful place to stay that also offers kayak hire for up to 19 people at a time. There are a number of options open to paddlers keen to get a closer look at the stunning landscape including stable sit-top kayaks, open canoes and stand-up paddle boards for those looking to try something a little different. Although there are plenty of kayak options here, they do ask that any inexperienced paddlers stay within 50m of the shore.

Website: http://www.lochgoilheadkayakhire.com/
Email: kayakhire@carrickfarm.com