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Jewel of the Clyde - Isle of Bute Tour
Tour Theme: Historic and Cultural Tours
This tour starts from: Glasgow or Edinburgh
Duration: 2 Days / 1 Night
This is a Private Tour
Explore the beauties of Argyll and the spectacular Firth of Clyde on this two day tour, with a full day and a half on the “jewel of the Clyde”, the lovely and tranquil Isle of Bute. See historic Rothesay Castle, the island’s guardian since the 12th century. Visit Mountstuart, the fairy tale home of the Marquess of Bute, and experience the serenity of St Blane’s Chapel, one of the earliest Christian sites in Scotland.
From Edinburgh we head west to Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, passing its magnificent 13th century cathedral. From Glasgow we head west past Dumbarton, ancient capital of the Britons of Strathclyde, and through Cardross, favourite home of King Robert the Bruce, to Helensburgh on the banks of the Clyde. Heading up Gareloch, we pass the Royal Naval base at Faslane before going through lonely Glen Fruin, site of one of the last clan battles to be fought, to Luss where we stop for coffee and a chance to view the “bonnie, bonnie banks” of Loch Lomond.
We then trace the shores of the Loch to Tarbet, where we cut west to Loch Long, with outstanding views of the Arrochar Alps, including the famous Cobbler. Heading through the “steep-frowning glories” of Glen Croe, we ascend the formidable Rest and be Thankful pass and then on to the beautiful Cowal peninsula. We enjoy spectacular views across Loch Fyne to Inveraray, ancestral home of Clan Campbell and the Dukes of Argyll, before driving through the forest of Glendaruel to Colintraive on the Kyles of Bute, where we have lunch.
After lunch, we take the short ferry crossing to Rhubodach on the north end of Bute, then drive south through Port Bannatyne to Rothesay, where we are staying.
After an hour to freshen up, your tour guide will lead you on a guided walk round Rothesay, visiting, among other attractions, the busy pier and harbour, the spectacular Winter Gardens, the Town Buildings and Mansion House, and the fascinating Bute Museum. We finish the walk at the 12th century Rothesay Castle, scene of many a bloody siege, and favoured residence of the Kings of Scotland.
Your evening is at leisure, to explore Rothesay’s many pubs and restaurants and enjoy the magnificent views of “sweet Rothesay Bay”.
After breakfast, we visit the restored 19th century Fernery at Ascog, before arriving at Mountstuart. This extravaganza of Victorian Gothic was built by the 4th Marquess of Bute after a disastrous fire had destroyed its predecessor in 1877. After exploring its lavish interior you can take refreshments in the tearoom, or wander through the beautifully landscaped and heavily wooded grounds.
We then continue south to peaceful Kilchattan Bay, in its heyday a bustling resort in its own right, where we stop for lunch at the quaint-looking St Blane’s Hotel. After lunch, spend some time wandering past the old pier and admire the views across to the Cumbraes and the Ayrshire coast. The more adventurous may wish to climb the hill of Suibhe Chattan before we head off past Kingarth, with its historic graveyard, to St Blane’s Chapel. Savour the extraordinary peace and serenity of this tranquil spot, as you enjoy the magnificent views across the Sound of Bute to the awe-inspiring mountains of Arran. This place once rivalled Iona as Scotland’s main centre of early Christianity, and along with the 12th century chapel you can still see many remains of the ancient 6th century monastery. From here you can also see Dunagoil the finest vitrified Iron Age fort in Scotland.
Back on the coach, we head up the island’s west coast, past Scalpsie Bay, renowned for its seals, then St Ninian’s Bay and the offshore island of Inchmarnock, both also the sites of ancient chapels. Passing the Neolithic stone circle at Kilmachalmaig, we arrive at the sands of Ettrick Bay, where we stop for tea.
Returning then to Rothesay, past 14th century Kames Castle, we take the ferry over to Wemyss Bay on the mainland. From here we head back to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Dumbarton Rock, Gareloch, Glen Fruin, Luss, Loch Lomond, Loch Long, Arrochar Alps, Glen Croe, Loch Fyne, Glendaruel, Kyles of Bute, Rothesay, Bute Museum, Rothesay Castle, Ascog Fernery, Mountstuart, Kilchattan Bay, St Blane’s Chapel, Dunagoil Fort, Ettrick Bay, Kames Castle.
Operated by: Go Scotland Tours Rank 8
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