Travellers' Tales: Beautiful Bute
My dad had died a couple of weeks earlier, and I was struggling to come to terms with this. So one morning when the rain looked like having a day off, I grabbed a banana, a bottle of water, and unfolded the Brompton. I chose it because it’s easier on the train, and I had picked a 15-mile circular route on the Isle of Bute which I planned to ride slowly. I’d cycled on Bute before and knew it was undulating rather than hilly so I wouldn’t miss the road bike too much.
The first highlight was Wemyss Bay station and pier, a marvellous example of late-Victorian architecture. The rail platform sweeps gently down and round to the ferry to Bute. The island itself is a cyclist’s paradise. Road surfaces are good, the scenery great, and outside Rothesay traffic is almost non-existent.
I soon arrived at St Ninian’s bay. I found a Sheffield stand partly submerged in long grass. An easy walk took me to the tidal St Ninian’s island with its ruined chapel. It is an amazingly peaceful spot where your only company is the wading birds feeding on the long sandy beach.
Back on the bike, I continued my clockwise loop back to Rothesay for a late lunch. Sadly, 15 miles didn’t justify the very tasty-looking chocolate cake I saw so I virtuously ate my banana and wondered if St Ninian’s halo would transfer to me! It didn’t, but this day trip was a wonderful tonic and a reminder that tours don’t need to be long, arduous, or well-planned.