August 30, 2011

The Isle of Bute

St Blane's Hill by lusobrandane
St Blane's Hill, a photo by lusobrandane on Flickr.

A little island located in the heart of the Firth of Clyde, Bute was once part of its own county: Buteshire. Nowadays it's been incorporated into the Council Area of Argyll and Bute, but it still retains a character all its own.

Stunning waterscapes characterize the photography of this region. It's a landscape-junkie's paradise! One town, Rothesay, is connected with the rest of the world by a ferry. Beyond that, you're in isolated Scottish heaven. There are too many gorgeous photographs to feature here, but I hope that you enjoy the ones I've selected for this post. Short of actually setting foot in this place, photographs are probably our best way to taste it!
Seamill Seaweed by antsplan
Seamill Seaweed, a photo by antsplan on Flickr.

According to "For such a compact island (15 miles long, 4 miles wide), Bute has some extraordinarily varied landscapes. From the lush, fertile and rolling hills of the island's heart to the craggy, heather-covered moorlands of the north and the delightful sandy beaches around the coastline, the island is a haven for walking, cycling, fishing and wildlife." 

Isle of Bute Jazz Festival, a photo by ufopilot on Flickr.
Strangely enough, Bute is home to an extremely popular jazz festival. For a few days every May, Jazz enthusiasts from around the world have been coming to this Scottish island for over twenty years to hear a little bit of New Orleans in the Firth of Clyde. 

Saxophones + Kilts = A match made in heaven.

Different Light by ufopilot
Different Light, a photo by ufopilot on Flickr.

Small as it is, Bute has its share of archaeological interest. The Standing Stones of St. Ninian's Bay, cists, chambered cairns, an ancient chapel, and a vitrified fort at Dunagoil Bay.

You can visit a unique piece of Scottish history at Rothesay Castle (it has an unusual circular plan and dates back to the early 1200s). Bute is the ancestral home of the Stewart kings, and this castle was occupied by great figures from King Robert II to James IV. Rothesay Castle was finally destroyed by Cromwell's forces in 1660 and Archibald Campbell in the uprising of 1685. It is now partially restored, and in the care of Historic Scotland. 

Staffa, a photo by féileacán on Flickr.
While not technically part of Bute, I have to feature another interesting tidbit from this council area: the mysterious Staffa. Staffa is the Old Norse word meaning stave, or pillar, and that's exactly what this island looks like it's made out of. The basalt columns jutting skyward from the foaming water are almost fantastical, and there is a sea cavern known as Fingal's Cave that looks like a perfect dragon's lair. 

Brit-Bit: Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn once visited Staffa. His Hebrides Overture is also known as Fingal's Cave, and was inspired by the weird echoes inside the sea cavern. Listen here.


  1. I missed the connection between Staffa and Bute - is it simply that they're both in Argyll & Bute Council (although 60 miles apart)?

  2. Ah...thanks for pointing that out :)


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