Impressive results from first Bute walking count

The number of people using Bute’s long distance footpaths has been measured in detail for the first time – and some pretty impressive results have been recorded.

Counting equipment installed at ten locations around the island revealed, for example, that almost 3,300 people used the footpath to Ettrick Bay between January 25 and September 26 this year.

The largest figure recorded by the equipment, put in place as part of the Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme, which drew to a close earlier this year, was one of more than 18,000 at Scalpsie Bay between April 2011 and March 2012.

And though the true number of Scalpsie walkers is likely to be around half that figure, since most will have walked to and from the popular west coast beach by the same route, the man who installed the equipment said it was still an impressive figure.

Billy Shields, who was Discover Bute’s project manager for access during the four years of the scheme, said of the figures: “It’s more than we were expecting - the numbers from Ardscalpsie to the viewpoint above the bay are phenomenal.

“At Scalpsie the equipment stopped counting because of the amount of data on it – the number was away over what we estimated.”

“The counters are primarily to give us an indication of where people are walking, but they give us more than a rough guide as to how many walkers are out and about around the island.

“This is the first time any count like this has been done, and the figures will be very useful to the Bute Conservation Trust when applying for grant funding to further improve access to the countryside.

“The counters will stay in place - they have a lifespan of ten years, and we’ll probably check them every quarter.”

Approximate numbers for the ten counting locations are as follows (figures are from January 25 to September 26 unless otherwise stated).

Ardscalpsie (June 1 to September 26 only) 2,180; Balnakailly 1,900; Ettrick Bay 3,290; Glenmore 315; Greenwood 2,745; Greenwood (near cemetery) (June 1 to September 26 only) 735; Kilchattan Bay 9,150; West Island Way at north end of Bute 85; Scalpsie Bay (April 2011 to March 2012) 18,050; Seal View at Scalpsie (June 1 to September 26 only) 1,630.