About the West Island Way
The West Island Way explores the length and breadth of the Isle of Bute. The route crosses a variety of landscapes, including rocky headland, seashore and sandy beach, moorland, farmland and forest, all providing a continually changing picture of Bute.
The 30-mile (48 km) route divides naturally into four stages. It is easily walked over two full days (or four half-days).
In the north on the 3rd Stage there is an optional diversion to Rhubodach via the Balnakailly Loop. This diversion will add 2 miles (3 km) to the walk. Passing mostly through native woodland, the diversion takes in the atmospheric ruins of Balnakailly village. Nearby lie the remains of a World War 2 ‘decoy village’ and a fine viewpoint over the Kyles of Bute and Loch Riddon.
We recommend starting in the south (at Kilchattan Bay) and finishing in the north (at Port Bannatyne). This gives walkers a level start and immediate access to fine coastal scenery.
The route is well waymarked and generally suitable for inexperienced walkers, although some sections are strenuous and the terrain can be rough in places.
The high moorland section between Rhubodach to Port Bannatyne is well signposted but can be boggy underfoot in places, especially in the winter and after long periods of heavy rain. The high moorland walk is well worth the effort and offers walkers superb views in all directions and a gentle downhill walk towards Kames Bay and the finish at Port Bannatyne.
A low-level alternative finish
In bad weather, inexperienced or lightly-equipped walkers should consider taking the low-level alternative route to the final section. This involves 5 miles of tarmac road and grass verges from the Ferry at Rhubodach to the finish of the West Island Way at Port Bannatyne. Traffic is mostly very light and coming to and from the small ferry linking Rhubodach to the mainland at Colintraive.