Britain is blessed with many excellent long-distance hiking trails. Whether you want to cross mountains, follow rivers or wander along miles of desolate coastline there is a path that satisfies your tastes. In many cases walkers are supported by local companies who will transport your luggage from one B&B to the next allowing you to enjoy your day without 10kg or more of ‘stuff’ on your back. Some will even take care of your accommodation bookings, a big help on summer weekends when finding a room can be harder than walking 15 miles.
Of all trails however, perhaps the 29 mile West Island Way is perfectly suited to the casual walker who wants to spend a weekend exercising in the countryside without the hassle of moving their luggage around. Running as a figure of 8 around the Isle of Bute in western Scotland, the path makes two roughly equal circles, allowing an overnight stop in the main town of Rothesay at the beginning, end and middle of a two day hike.
Being on the west of Scotland Bute’s weather can be summed up in two words – wet and mild. That’s not to say you’ll be walking through torrential rain. More likely than not over the course of a couple of days you’ll see sun, rain, wind and everything in between. The key is to pack with changeable weather in mind.
The island is fairly flat, so walking is easy and the route has the best signposting of any walk I’ve done in the UK. It’s not often that you can say you’ve covered an island from north to south and from east to west, but after 2 days and 29 miles on the West Island Way you can certainly claim to have seen most of Bute.
Below are a few pictures from our hike, completed back in the summer of 2004. More information on the West Island Way can be found here.
This post is written by Andy Jarosz who owns the 501 Places travel blog. Andy also writes regularly for a number of travel companies including Tourdust, who specialise in walking and trekking holidays.