At last there seemed to be a lull in the rain and wind which has characterised Spring 2011 in Scotland. I planned to combine a trip to visit relatives on the Isle of Bute with a circumnavigation of the island. We lived on Bute for 8 years, but in pre-paddling days so this was a trip I'd looked forward to doing.
I was able to carry the boat straight to the water from our relatives house in Rothesay, the main town on the island. Although it was early in the morning the temperature was already rising, a pleasant change!
Paddling north past Port Bannatyne I started to enter the Kyles of Bute, the narrow channel between the north end of the island and the Argyll mainland. The water was mirror calm, Strone Point and Beinn Bhreac (speckled hill) were reflected perfectly.
Near the north end of Bute a ferry route crosses the short distance between Rhubodach (Old man's point) and Colintraive, one of two routes operated by Caledonian MacBrayne connecting Bute to the mainland. The current vessel on the route is MV Loch Dunvegan . It may seem strange to have a ferry named after a Skye sea-loch on a southern route, but in fact the vessel started her service life on the Kyle of Lochalsh crossing. She was laid up following the opening of the Skye bridge then reactivated to serve this route. The crossing takes less than five minutes, and it has long been claimed by those living on Bute that the crossing costs costs more money per metre than flying on Concorde!
Just north of the the ferry the narrowest parts of the Kyles are reached, starting with the Burnt Islands. Theses islands contain a thriving Gull population which lets you know quite vociferously that you're intruding. Curious seals inspected my boat on the shore as I walked up to photograph the Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus), the metre high yellow flowers are abundant on wet ground in early summer.
Evidence of the Gulls diet is everywhere on the islands, empty mussel shells form a crunching mat over the rockier parts.
The next part of the trip would take me west through the Kyles around the northern end of Bute.