Antipole cruises

The Isle and Kyles of Bute

We had a lovely sail from the Isle of Arran to the Isle of Bute – mostly a run or quarter reach in a good sailing breeze.  As an island, Bute is much gentler than mountainous Arran, with plenty of arable farm land.

IMG_1343We arrived at the main town Rothesay.  After a night at anchor off the town we entered the small harbour and marina.  In its Victorian heyday Rothesay was a major destination for excursions from the Glasgow metropolis and it had a busy seafront and esplanade.  Those days are long past and things are much quieter now.  Its most notable feature is, perhaps, the gents toilets on the pier head, which have retained all their Victorian splendour and become a tourist sight in themselves.

On Wednesday we cycled five miles south to Mount Stuart, the seat of the Bute family.  The 2nd Marquis of Bute was an industrialist and owned much of South Wales by his marriage to a Windsor and had effective control of the export of coal from South Wales through the docks – hence Bute Dock and Bute Town in Cardiff.  The 3rd Marquis had many interests, including astrology, classical mythology and especially architecture.  It was he who built the Victorian form of Cardiff Castle and, as a hunting lodge, the fairytale Castell Coch just north of Cardiff, both of which some of the family will know well.

IMG_1336Mount Suart interiorBack on the Isle of Bute the family seat at Mount Stuart burnt down in 1877 and this gave the Marquis the opportunity to create a new house almost from scratch.  The result is the most extraordinary and grandest mansion we have ever seen.  It is vast – it centres around a huge central three level hallway with marble pillars and staircases, with glorious stained glass windows depicting the seasons and their astrological representations.  Off these lead the various rooms.  To give you some idea of the scale of things his personal rooms include three bedrooms – ‘his’ and ‘hers’ and a central ‘his and hers’ with his and hers bathrooms between each.  On their Grand Tours the Marquises had seen many interesting buildings and churches and acquired many paintings and treasures.  The 3rd Marquis sent his architect to Russia, Germany, Italy and else where to record details and recreate his favourite features in the house.  It must be the most glorious ostentatious gothic Victorian building in the world and, whatever you think of the gothic style, do visit and see it if you ever get the chance.


West Kyle of Bute


Caladh Harbour

From Rothesay we sailed around the north of the island through the east and west Kyles of Bute.  [For non-Scottish readers, I explained that a firth is a wide expanse of water between land masses.  A kyle is a narrow sound between an island and the next land.]  The Kyles of Bute are extensive, very beautiful and make excellent cruising, although the winds can be very fickle and we experienced ferocious gusts from the mountains in all directions.  On the Friday we sailed in lovely sunshine to the northern tip of Bute and anchored in the tiny harbour of Caladh, sheltering behind an islet.

On Saturday we had a beat in continuous drizzle down the West Kyle and then up Lower Loch Fyne until we came to Tarbert, which has a busy marina and where we are spending a few days doing washing and the like.  Diligent readers may think we called at Tarbert earlier.  Actually, it is a very common place name hereabout, meaning a place where boats could be dragged out of the water and especially over land to other water and there are many such places.

That’s the news for now…
Ynskje & Tony

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