As I mentioned in the last post this is a tale of two islands. About three weeks before the Arran Trip I went over on the ferry to Bute and Rothesay. Although it was earlier in the season the Jazz Festival was on that weekend ( first weekend in May) so I was worried about getting parked at the Wemyss Bay Train/Ferry terminal seen above. One of the great relics of a bygone age and still kept in pristine splendour.
The scene below is Bogany wood and Rothesay but the trees have grown since this was painted.
Bute on the other hand is so close yet it was ghostly quiet when I arrived in Rothesay, (see photo above). Mind you, it's usually quiet here any time I've been over. Half a dozen folk got off the ferry with me. I couldn't help comparing that in retrospect to my journey over to Arran a few weeks later. A long queue of foot passengers, a packed ferry terminal and car park, almost a hundred people taking bikes over with them...a full car deck of vehicles.
Here, I was the sole bike rider getting off this ferry.
Have they all been infected with leprosy on Bute perhaps? Has the great plague struck here? Is the black death still rampant on the island?
Being an island Bute's shopping streets actually have more shops open than most town centres these days so it's clearly not that putting visitors off. I only counted a handful of shops empty and none of them were eyesores, just a small shop window here and there. Yes, admittedly there are a few buildings that could do with a coat of paint around the harbour area and two were being renovated with scaffolding up outside. Same as most small towns of this period.
It's a catch 22 situation here as well but in reverse. A self fulfilling prophesy scenario. No tourists- place gets run down. People mention that - situation is perceived worse than it actually is. More tourists arriving and spending money - place soon revives and money is lavished on the buildings.
Accommodation perhaps? As I haven't stayed here in a hotel or guest house since the 1980s I couldn't comment on availability or standard although I,d imagine a fair few have shut due to lack of tourist numbers since then. There is a well maintained Caravan and camping site in Rothesay halfway up Canada hill which gets good reviews although tent pitches tend to be fairly expensive for cyclists or backpackers.£18 for two small one man tents which is near enough the same for a large tent plus car. It mainly caters for touring caravans and year round static units. For the Jazz Festival I noticed that camper vans were allowed to park overnight along the Promenade area which is wide enough for that. (You could easily wild camp discreetly overnight on Bute though, either around Garroch Head or anywhere on the higher moorlands away from farms or private property.)
http://www.gardens-of-argyll.co.uk/gardens/ardencraig-gardens.html Mount Stuart also in here.
The Bogany wood walk to Ardencraig Gardens and back****( see poster), The circular walk up and over Canada Hill***** , The walk to the Kirk Dam via the Castle, the Town Park and the Thom Lade walkway ***** The Flat Promenade walks to Port Bannatyne*** or Bogany Point***. These are all excellent. What do other people think of the place though?
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g551923-Activities-Isle_of_Bute_Argyll_and_Bute_Scotland.html Very good photographic slide shows of St Blane's Church and Mount Stuart in here. Reviews mainly positive.
The Castle and moat are unique and Rothesay is still a very interesting place to explore with amazing views on foot or bike. Most of the town still looks well kept with stunning period architecture.
The Serpentine Brae and Rothesay mansions. Not run down here in any way and most reviews I looked at online were positive about the town.
People are strange creatures and it's puzzled me for years this question. It actually suits my nature to have it all to myself and I'd probably be pissed off if too many people arrive here as I was slightly miffed the last time I cycled around the south end of Arran since the increased volume of traffic on the roads took the shine off cycling there with a steady steam of 4 by 4 vehicles and cars whizzing past my elbow all the way round.
View across to the "busy" populated side of Liitle Cumbrae Island near Craig Nabbin with the old and newer lighthouses on show.
Obviously not a tourist draw. (note the weather is still sunny here yet dull and grey on Arran)
The happy go lucky Vikings interrupted proceedings here from time to time with old favourite party games- rape, pillage, murder, burning, robbery of artefacts and sundry other hi jinks just to keep things from getting dull. I had my lunch here surrounded by giant ash trees, the baaing of little lambs (It wasn't me officer, honest, it's bottom was like that when I arrived) and the swish of cows tails. Just me and nature wonderfully intertwined :o)
(Maybe they could built an artificial Munro on the highest peak on Bute with a chair lift up and a roller coaster spiralling down it- that might top Arran's appeal.)
Anyway, I had a great time, as I do on every occasion I visit this marvellous island.. which is all that really matters to me. It did liven up some in Rothesay town itself when I returned as the harbour had a few more private yachts in it and more visitors had arrived off an afternoon ferry to see the music acts. They missed a great sunny day though.
By special request I have been asked to put a happy video on this week so here it is. Jazz Festival flavoured as well. How appropriate is that.
Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were always a bit too extreme and unconventional- even for me- but I did like this bouncy uplifting number as soon as I heard it.
Mad artist and mad lyrics deserve a suitably mad video ...and this is it! It made me laugh anyway. Humans are always funny... observed from a safe distance!