Island View: Off and on the beaten track

There are plenty of options on and off road for cyclists, walkers and runners alike.
There are plenty of options on and off road for cyclists, walkers and runners alike.

With the news this week that the West Island Way has had a makeover thanks to a group of hardworking volunteers and contractors, it struck me that Bute has its fair share of transport options, and a rich history of transportation.

The 30-mile trek should be experienced by as many as possible, and that will be easier now that the signposts have made it clearer.

Walking on the island is a treat, and the variation in terrain and scenery from such a small island is impressive.

Cyclists are spoilt for choice on Bute too, with more than one of my summers as a child spent hiriing bike in Rothesay and riding around the island, stopping for a well-earned icecream at Ettrick bay.

The more serious enthusiasts make use of the flat terrain and great scenery too, with Beatson’s Beat The Ferry challenge including the route between Rhubodach and Rothesay.

While cyclists are a common sight on Victoria Street and Argyll Street now, Rothesay was once dominated by a tram system.

Trams would carry passengers out past Port Bannatyne and on to Ettrick Bay, on what must have been an enjoyable trip.

Though today’s buses are no doubt much quicker and more efficient, a part of me wonders what it must have been like to ride the tram across the island.

Bute also boasts its own airfield, where hobbyists and professionals alike can practice their take-offs and landings.

And on the subject of aviation, Ettrick Bay can boast its own piece of flight history.

It was the site of Andrew Baird’s historic attempt at flight in his own monoplane in 1910.

There’s no shortage of ways to get around today!