The Isle of Bute (Eilean Bhòid in Gaelic) is one of the islands of the lower Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Formerly part of the county of Buteshire, it now constitutes part of the council area of Argyll and Bute. In the 2001 census (conducted in April 2001) it had a resident population of 7,228. However, many flats are in fact summer holiday homes, and in winter there are probably fewer than 5,000 people on the island.
Bute is divided in two by the Highland Boundary Fault. North of the fault the island is hilly and largely uncultivated with extensive areas of forestry. To the south of the fault the terrain is smoother and highly cultivated although in the far south is to be found the island's most rugged terrain around Glen Callum. Loch Fad is Bute's largest body of freshwater and runs along the faultline.
The western side of Bute is known for its beaches many of which enjoy fine views over the Sound of Bute towards Arran and Bute's smaller satellite island Inchmarnock. Straad is the only village on the west coast, around St. Ninian's Bay.
In the north, Bute is separated from the Cowal peninsula by the Kyles of Bute. The northern part of the island is sparsely populated, and the ferry terminal at Rhubodach connects the island to the mainland at Colintraive by the smaller of the island's two ferries. The crossing is one of the shortest, less than 300m, and takes only a few minutes but is busy because many tourists prefer the scenic route to the island
It is likely that before the Gaels arrived and absorbed Bute into the Cenél Comgall of Dál Riata that the island was home to a people who spoke a Brythonic language (akin to modern day Welsh). Later during the Viking period the island was known as Rothesay and the main town on the island was Bute. Widespread and long term mis-use of the titles was eventually officially recognised and the names were swapped to reflect popular usage.
After the Viking period the island was not granted to the Lord of the Isles as were most of the islands off Scotland's west coast. Instead Bute became the personal property of the Scottish monarchy.
In the 1940s and 1950s Bute served as a large naval headquarters.
Architectural attractions on the island include the ruined twelfth century St Blane's Chapel on a site associated with Saint Catan and Saint Blane, who was born on Bute. Another ruined chapel, dating from the sixth century, lies at St Ninian's Point.
The eccentric Mount Stuart House is often cited as one the world's most impressive neo-Gothic mansions, bringing many architectural students from Glasgow on day-trips. The 3rd Marquis had a passion for art, astrology, mysticism and religion and the house reflects this in the architecture, furnishings and art collection. There is a marble chapel, much stained glass and walls of Old Masters, many depicting members of The Royal Family and of the Stuart family. The house is open at Easter and from May to October. There are gardens with plants imported from many parts of the world, and a Visitor Centre. The gardens host a number of events throughout the year starting with an Easter Parade. In 2003 the fashion designer Stella McCartney married in the chapel, generating intense media interest.
The Pavilion is a 1930s edifice housing a concert hall, workshops and cafe, and noted for its architecture. The Pavilion is little changed from when it was built.
Rothesay Castle was built 800 years ago by the hereditary High Steward of Scotland.
Ascog Hall Fernery and Gardens are a renovated Victorian residence and glass-house containing shrubs and plants from all over the Empire, including a fern believed to be over 1,000 years old.
Loch Fad is a deep freshwater loch stocked with pike and brown trout available to visiting tourist fishermen. Boats are available to hire.
The Old Post Office now used only for sorting mail, is an historic working post office (open mornings only) which houses artifacts of the early post, some from before the advent of the postage stamp.
Scalpsie Bay has a colony of over 200 seals on its beach, which must be reached by foot across the fields. The island also has many herds of deer, rich bird-life and some large hares. Wild goat with large curled horns may be seen in the north of the island.
Port Bannatyne, a village towards the north of the island, is the centre for sailing and sea-fishing on the island. It has two boat yards and a marina for 200 vessels under construction. Langoustines are fished by creels anchored in the bay. X-Class midget submarines were stationed in Kames Bay during World War II and there is a memorial to WWII dead. Port Bannatyne also boasts the CAMRA Scottish Pub of the Year 2005. Port Bannatyne Golf Club is known for scenic views from the course.
The road from Port Bannatyne goes seven miles along the waters-edge of the Kyles of Bute until it reaches the minor ferry over to Colintraive on the Argyll mainland.
The 1920s Winter-Gardens (Now the "Discovery Center") close to the Rothesay Pier houses a small cinema and tourist information office. Nearby are the Victorian Toilets.
There are a variety of music, folk and poetry festivals, and walking trails and new cycling routes. There are a variety of remote Bronze Age stone circles, an iron-age fortified village, and early Christian remains (including St. Blane's Chapel). The Bute Museum of the island's history is situated behind Rothesay Castle.
Wording Courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/
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