Isle Of Bute
Bute is one of the most accessible islands on Scotland's west coast. It's also a perfect short-stay destination as it's only around 15km long, making it relatively simple to discover. Easily reached from the mainland, it has an air of gentle bucolic calm - you'll quickly find yourself gearing down to a slower pace of life - island time.
Great for walkers, there are trails and locations suitable for all abilities - from a rocky scrample around the southern tip of the island to the lighthouse at Glencallum Bay; to an easy stroll taking in the tranquil ruin of St Blanes Chapel. There's also the West Island Way - a great way to see most of the island in around 45 kms of walking that takes in coastline, beaches, farmland, moors and forest - not to mention the incredible views of the Isle of Arran, the Kyles of Bute and the Cowal peninsula.
The beaches on Bute are perfect for a wild swim, a dog walk or a family day out. The sea is reasonably shallow, calm and safe at most of the wide sandy bays. Scalpsie and Ettrick are two main beaches on the west coast. Kilchattan Bay is the biggest sandy bay on the east coast - where Tigh Na Ceol is located. For secluded rocky coves, drive north along the coastal road from Ettrick Bay. There are plenty of spots to stop and enjoy the clean and clear waters of the Kyles of Bute. It's not uncommon to get Bute's beaches all to yourself, which makes you appreciate them all the more.
If you're a lover of architecture and history, the villas that line the coastal road from Rothesay are a reminder of Glasgow's one-time standing as second city of the British Empire and the wealth that came with it. Go further back and you'll find evidence of Iron Age settlements at Dunagoil, a 13th century Castle in the centre of Rothesay, and the enthusiastically Victorian Mount Stuart - worth visiting for the gardens alone.
Rothesay has a fair share of places to eat and drink. It's also home to the only supermarket on the island, so it's an essential stop for self-caterers. In recent years Bute has welcomed a community of Syrian refugees who are adding to the culinary landscape as well. Notably Helmi's patisserie in Rothesay, which has already established itself as a popular destination. Closer to Tigh Na Ceol is The Kingarth Hotel - a traditional country pub with great home-cooked food, good beer and an astounding selection of gins. At the other end of the island you'll find Ettrick Bay tearooms. Overlooking the sea, it's unpretentious, the portions are big and the home fries are brilliant. Remember to take cash with you, there are many ATMs in Rothesay.