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IT IS often claimed that there is a special magical aura around Scottish islands; the Isle of Bute, which nestles in the Firth of Clyde, is no exception to that claim.
Believed to have been named after beacon fires from the Norse for fire ‘Bót’, the island was also known by the Vikings as ‘Rothesay’ – later to become the name of the only town on the island.
Divided in two by the Highland boundary fault line, the island is least populated in the north, with its hills and forest, while the south is more cultivated apart from the southern most part.
With its proximity to the mainland, Bute has always been a favourite destination for visitors and two ferry services make it one of the easiest islands to get to. In the north, it is connected via Rhubodach to the mainland at Colintraive by a crossing that is barely 300 metres (330yards) and takes just minutes.
The main crossing from the mainland at Wemyss Bay takes travellers into Rothesay, the island’s town. Rothesay is close to beautiful beaches such as Kilchattan Bay, three golf courses and the Victorian splendour of Mount Stuart, a Gothic palace with some of the finest gardens in Europe.
Bute has a vibrant social scene and a number of popular annual events, including the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival, and is a popular place for walkers and cyclists.