SUP Safari Scotland – Isle of Bute & Firth of Clyde

The Isle of Bute – somewhere so close that we’d left it almost until last – like you do. Our sailing on the evening ferry was like something out of a movie. The wind was almost non existant and the golden light of the setting evening sun gave everything a magical aura. We had a nice wee spot in mind for our evening camp and it certainly didn’t dissappoint. I just wish we had arrived earlier so I could go for a paddle.

The light on Bute was magical as was our campsite

The next morning we awoke to a whole new world of choppy seas and rain. Perfect weather for looking at another stately home. This time – Mount Stuart. The current house at Mount Stuart was built for the third Marquess of Bute in the Gothic Revival style and is jam packed with every different style of marble.  It is said to have had the worlds first indoor pool and was the first home to be lit by electricity.

The stunning ceiling over the grand staircase painted with stars and framed by astrological images in stained glass

John Crichton Stuart the 3rd marquess of Bute was an interesting character.  He came to his title at of 6 months of age when his father passed away. His wealth grew to such an extent it made him the richest man in the world when he came of age.  He also lost his mother at the age of 12 after spending much time traveling some of the most impressive places in Europe.  It is said that as a boy he would sketch the different architectural styles of the buildings he visited planning what he would one day build.  

His many interests included religion (he converted to Cathlocism at the age of 21, Medievalism and the Occult which shows in the design elements of Mount Stuart. Interestingly he had his birth chart reproduced on the ceiling of his bedroom. He was known for his philanthropy and was instrumental in saving what is left of Falkland Palace. He was also a supporter of education for women funding St Andrews University’s first female lecturer to teach anatomy to female medical students when the male professor of the time refused to do so.

Sailing down the Clyde on the Waverley – as the song goes!

Sailing down the Clyde on the Waverley brought back so many memories of our time in Glasgow passing places we’d visited, walked, cycled, and paddled. Bowling Harbour is where the Forth and Clyde Canal joins the River Clyde and is where our canal paddling started a few summers back.

We also steamed passed the lovely seaside town of Helensburgh and the site of one of the most peaceful and calm paddles we did – Gareloch out of Kidstone Park.

Depending on the tide you can sometimes make out the wreck of the sugar boat which lays on it’s side and provides an interesting paddle destination for kayakers and braver than us paddleboarders!  You can check out the satellite image online.

Dunoon was one of the ports of call along the way and brought back memories of one of our first paddles in Scotland some years ago.

As we steam past the isle of Bute we spotted our campsite of a couple of nights ago.  The Kyles of Bute is one of Scotlands best kept secrets, a truly beautiful location which you have to seek out to find.

Steaming into the Narrows we spot our campsite on Bute (left)

On this trip our destination was the town of Tignaburach where we had enough time to wander into the village and admire the view across to the western side of Bute and even the northern side of the Isle of Arran. 

Bute and the Cumbrae Islands

Back on the mainland we also visited Hill House which is considered to be Art Nouveau designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece.  It was built for a wealthy publisher and completed 1904.  Not only did Mackintosh design the exterior but also the interior, furniture and fittings.

The exterior is clad in Portland cement harle which was a new technology at the time but unfortunately was found to be less durable than the traditional material.  The house is currently enclosed in a huge structure to let it dry out slowing down it’s demise.  Discussion over whether it should be allowed to decay as a living work of art versus preservation through non authentic means provides an interesting philosophical debate regarding the structures future.

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If you missed part one of our SUP Safari Scotland to the Isle of Arran you can read about it here.

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