West Island Way gets a makeover with new signs and boardwalk

Some of those who coordinated and carried out the project. From left to right: Robert Currie, Malcolm Johnson, Ray Beverley, Bill Stein, Donald Kinnear and Billy Shields. Not pictured is Don Williams of the Bute Conservation Trust.
Some of those who coordinated and carried out the project. From left to right: Robert Currie, Malcolm Johnson, Ray Beverley, Bill Stein, Donald Kinnear and Billy Shields. Not pictured is Don Williams of the Bute Conservation Trust.

“Sure by Glencallum and the Moor Road and the Tram Path we will go”.

So go the words of a well-known walking song... and why not? Bute’s West Island Way (WIW), the first designated long distance walk based on an island, is now fully resplendent with new signage.

The new finger posts and waymarkers marking out the route of the WIW replace the old green painted posts, many of which were becoming broken, rotten or lost altogether.

The new posts and markers are of kiln-dried oak, sourced in England but brought to Bute where all the work in carving and fitting out the posts with their directional ‘flags’ has been done by local companies Malcolm Johnston of Bute Signs and Ray Beverley of Mechnock.

The distinctive finger posts and waymarkers with their white banded tops and blue WIW discs now clearly delineate the route from Kilchattan Bay to Sawmill Cottage at Ettrickdale.

Some stretches of the route have had extra posts and waymarkers positioned to ensure the path is visible.

The often difficult work of positioning the posts in the correct location was contracted out to Robert Currie with most of the bridle gates fitted by Ronald McMillan.

The whole programme was co-ordinated by trustees of the Bute Conservation Trust (BCT).

The WIW originally came about in 2000 as a millennium project when a number of existing walks were linked together with new stretches to create a 30 mile route from the south to the north end of Bute.

The walk offers a unique range of terrain and vistas from coastal to woodland to moors of heather and whin.

Not only is the range of countryside so special but the opportunity of seeing a hugely diverse mix of flora and fauna is there in abundance. The terrain underfoot is mixed, can be challenging but is never extreme. Distances can be adapted to suit the individual.

From the peace and tranquillity of Glencallum Bay to the fresh breezes and views of Loch Striven from Kames Hill, the WIW is unbeatable for the range of scenery available.

The new signage has been well received by those familiar with the WIW and by walkers enjoying the route for the first time. The BCT is confident this ‘new look’ will enhance the appeal of the WIW and Bute can look forward to an increase in numbers of visitors to the island coming here to enjoy the walking as well as the hospitality the island has to offer.

Donald Kinnear is a trustee of the Bute Conservation Trust.