Thursday, 23 January 2014

Kyles of Bute, Loch Riddon and Eilean Dubh

Back in October whilst visiting relatives on the Isle of Bute I had an opportunity to do some paddling on the Kyles of Bute, the narrow strait of water which separate the island from the Argyll mainland, into which the north of Bute fits like a ball and socket.

I set out from Rhubodach on a clear and calm morning, waiting until the ferry to Colintraive, MV Loch Dunvegan, departed on her short voyage.

My route took me up the east Kyle and then into Loch Riddon, which is a shallow sea loch lined with maritime oak woods.  Autumn's full colour was still to develop but the trees were laden with acorns.

After paddling to near the head of the loch on the east shore I came back down on the west shore and arrived at Eilean Dubh (the dark island) behind which is a popular if small anchorage for yachts.  Remains of estate infrastructure stands in remarkably good condition near the island, this crane looked as if it could be put back into service with a bit of work

This small but distinctive lighthouse stands on a small point on the shore, Eilean Dubh is to the right with the entrance to the anchorage between.  In spring Eilean Dubh is a noisy place as there is a large heronry in the big trees.


  1. Hi Ian, I was reading your posting while listening to Euan Morton sing "The Dark Island". Would it be the same Eilean Dubh? Now that's being on the same "wavelength". :) CalMac ferries bring back great memories of Oban and Iona last autumn. :) Warm wishes. Duncan.

  2. Hi Duncan,

    The song and tune "Dark Island" are usually associated with the Hebridean island of Benbecula, but could be equally appropriate for many a dark coloured island :o) Folk normally named the features around them in a very literal sense, so we end up with lots of islands named Eilean Dubh - and many a hill called Beinn Dearg (red hill) !

    Best wishes to both of you

  3. Thanks for that, Ian, you are a wonderful resource for all things Scottish - and well beyond! :) We look forward to learning more over the months to come. Take good care and talk to you soon. Duncan.

  4. Hi Ian I know you will be interested to know that the jetty and crane are all that remains of HMS James Cook, which was a WW2 Naval base. It specialized in teaching navigation and landing to crew of landing craft and miniature submarines.


  5. Hi Douglas,

    Thanks for this - it certainly explains the rather heavy-duty nature of some of the infrastructure!

    Kind Regards