Scotland – island hopping 2022 – Days 4-5

Isle of Bute – 9th May 2022
Leaving Largs behind we had a short drive to Wemyss Bay (pronounced ‘weems’ as Janette kept reminding me) for our first ferry on CalMac to Rothesay. Weather was scudding with rain and the water across the Firth of Clyde looked choppy. Cost for Hilma and us was about £19 which I thought wasn’t too bad, although it jumps quite a bit with a longer vehicle. The ferry crossing was 35 mins and before we knew it we were on our first island with Hilma.

Caledonian MacBrae Ferry - Wemyss to Rothesay
Hilma’s first Scottish ferry – mainland Wemyss to Rothesay, Bute across the Firth of Clyde.

We had already decided we wanted to visit Mount Stuart Gardens and although pouring with rain we were well equipped with a couple of stoutly built umbrellas which kept the worst off (but only just).
We were not disappointed, some of the trees were planted over 300 years ago and many had been awarded the title of National Champion Tree status for either height, girth, age, or rarity. It’s the first time we had come across a ‘Pinetum’ which speaks for itself really.

Mount Stuart House - Isle of Bute
Mount Stuart house as seen from the rockery – a truly wonderful garden to visit.
Tropical house
Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia) in flower inside the hothouse at Mount Stuart.

Obligatory Earl Grey tea and scone with jam before we left lifted the dampness from our souls and off we went to find a wild camp site.
Scalpsie Bay beckoned us on the map, the Isle of Bute was kind to us, a free parking bay with footpath direct the beach with a view of the Isle of Arran in the background.

Isle of Bute to Kintyre – 10th May 2022
A brisk morning walk on Scalpsie Bay rewarded us views of Ringed Plovers, Curlew and Oystercatchers voicing their discontent with our presence.

Scalpsie Bay – our overnight parking spot with a view of Arran in the background.
Scalpsie Bay shore life – a myriad of nature in one small 200cm section. Imagine how many on a 500metre beach!

My packing of clothes prior to leaving meant I had to head to Rothesay and buy (yet another beanie hat and buff – I tell you I have so many at home now they take up I swear they take up a whole draw!). Back on the road and we drove across the centre of the Island to Ettrick Bay, parked for lunch and once again marvelled at the Scottish beach views, which I’m sure we will never tire of.

Ettrick Bay on the Isle of Bute – yet another stunning vista of sand, sea, land and cloud.

The next part of our journey is one to be forgotten, we moved off the Isle of Bute via the Rhubodach to Colintraive ferry.

Ferry from Bute to the Cowal Peninsula – very short trip, about 5 minutes.

I thought we had plenty of time to drive down the narrowest road in the world (I exaggerate) by the side of Loch Fyne and find another wild camp spot for the night – WRONG! It was a nerve-racking drive and although we did come across what we thought was a wonderful spot at Otter Ferry there was a sign stating ‘No Overnight Parking’ which, although was not official, was obviously put there by the locals and I felt I had to respect it. I was however disappointed as I can only assume there have been issues with less than respectful campers, those of us that have been doing it a few years really try hard to make no impact on where we have stayed. Planning and booking into a few sites every few days for a few nights means we can empty our grey and black waste in the appropriate places. So, to all you campers that don’t do it properly, shame on you for spoiling it for the rest of us (I’m sure the majority reading this are not in that category). Another rant over.
Moving on again we ended up moving off the Cowal peninsula and headed for the last ferry of the day at Portaverdie to get across to Kintyre a day early. Tiredness was getting the better of me by then and we had tried to do too much (again) – we were meant to be decompressing but the latter half of the day was anything but. We were not happy bunnies and decided to ring the small CL site to see if we could arrive a day early – “no problem” was the reply. Lesson learnt – have a couple of options up your sleeve (like we usually do when traveling in France).

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