The Isle of Bute is one of the most accessible Scottish islands, just a short ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde.
This short ferry ride from Wemyss Bay takes you to the Victoriana meets art deco-style resort of Rothesay, with its palm trees and promenade. Attractions include Rothesay Castle, the stately home at nearby Mount Stuart, and some of the country's best toilets!
Only 15 mile long by 4 miles wide and for such a compact island, 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.
It is also renowned for its glorious gardens and grand architecture. The Esplanade Gardens on the front as you get off the ferry are a summer favourite for a quiet contemplate on a bench and try your hand on the putting green. Visit Ardencraig Gardens on Canada Hill which features a broad range of flowers as well as an exotic aviary and of course a visit to Mount Stuart is a must!
Rothesay and Port Bannatyne are great places for a bite to eat with plenty of cafes, bistros, bars and restaurants lining the sea front. There are several hotels and B&Bs overlooking Rothesay Bay with fantastic views out towards the mainland.
Majestic Mount Stuart
It's hard to believe that a Scottish house would be home to the world's first heated indoor swimming pool but that is just one of the claims of the stunning Mount Stuart!
In fact, Mount Stuart is truly a house of firsts, as it is believed that it was the first home in the world to have a heated indoor swimming pool, and the first in Scotland to be purpose built with electric light, central heating, a telephone system and a Victorian passenger lift. Most of which are still in use today.
Despite the medieval inspiration in its Gothic Revival style, the spirit of nineteenth-century invention is embodied in the house as it was one of the most technologically advanced houses of its age. Indeed its central heating system was designed by extraordinary Victorian engineer Wilson Phipson, who had achieved fame by heating prominent buildings such as London's Royal Albert Hall.
But regardless of the wonders and beauty of the house, Mount Stuart is so much more than just that. Its stunning gardens allow you to follow in the footsteps of the Victorian plant hunters and marvel at the realisation of their vision.
Recognised as some of the finest gardens in Europe - from seeds to tall trees, herbaceous to hot house, follow streams to shore line, and woodlands to wetlands, walled gardens to Wee gardens - and with every step, make delightful discoveries of your own.