After a hearty breakfast we set out once again, it had been recommended that we visit Mount Stuart House. Now, country houses are not usually my sort of thing, but on this occasion I decided to go and take a look. The advice was to be there for the first tour, which was good advice (apart from being told the wrong opening times, which meant that we were an hour early). Still, this did mean that we secured places on the first tour of the day, and we had plenty of time to explore the grounds. They have a refreshingly positive attitude to bikes, there is cycle parking directly outside the Visitor Centre and also at the House itself, and we were welcome to cycle around as we pleased. So off we went, rode round some of the estate roads, had a look at the kitchen gardens and arrived in good time for the tour. Now, as I said above, country houses are not my sort of thing, but I actually rather enjoyed the tour of this one. The house has a lived-in feel rather than the pickled in aspic feel you get with a lot of these places.
The tour over, we went outside to get some photos (you are not allowed to take pictures inside), just as the sun came out and the massed hoards arrived, making us glad that we had been on the first tour of the day. Photos duly taken, we set out onto the open road once more, to further explore the island. We headed vaguely towards Kingarth, with the idea of having lunch at the Kingarth Hotel, which is actually the Isle of Bute’s only country pub. Along the way we noticed the roads were really quiet and this was supposed to be a busy Bank Holiday weekend (possibly this was not a Scottish Bank Holiday, but it was still a weekend). On arrival we found the hotel car park was fairly full, maybe this was this where all the traffic had gone to? But there were only 20 or 30 cars. The Smiddy Bar (the dining part of the Kingarth Hotel) was also full, so rather than hang around waiting for a table, we decided to ride on down to Kilchattan Bay to see if we could find anything there.
The ride was pleasantly easy, but we were aware that the wind was at our backs. Looking around for lunch, we found the wee shop was shut, then we saw a sign board outside the St Blane’s Hotel, but the door was locked. There were people sitting in what looked like the bar, maybe they didn’t like the look of two hungry cyclists and locked the door, either way, they didn’t appear to want our custom. So we turned round and cycled back up the hill to Kingarth, which proved to be a lot easier than I had expected. There was now space in the bar, which was good, as the food was great. Fresh, local ingredients and portion sizes ideal for hungry cyclists, all a very reasonable price. What more could you ask for?
Lunch over, back on the road trying to decide where to go next, we were faced by a typical Bute direction sign, left, Rothesay 7 miles (11.3 Km) or right, Rothesay 8 miles (12.9 Km). It is hard to get lost on the Isle of Bute!
We turned left, but we weren’t going back to Rothesay straight away, 250 m down the road we turned left again onto Plan Road. We were off to see St Blane’s Church (or rather the remains of St Blane’s Church). As we walked up from the road to the site, we meet a couple coming the other way who we had seen earlier at Mount Stuart (and at the Kingarth Hotel). By the time we got to the ruins we were the only ones there (apart from a few sheep), it is a beautiful, romantic site and well worth visiting.
When we left St Blane’s the sun was shining, but we could see some dark clouds on the horizon and, sure enough, a couple of kilometres along the road we saw a rain shower coming towards us. On the way south we had noted a style over a wall into a wood (there was a standing stone marked on the map), so we took the opportunity to take shelter for 10 minutes or so. The shower passed, we continued on our way, next stop Scalpsie Bay for a spot of seal spotting. There were also dramatic views across the Sound of Bute to Arran, much taking of photos ensued. Photos taken, Ooo’s Ooo’d and Aaah’s Aaah’d, we were back on the road again. As time was getting on, we decided to head back to the metropolis, by the slightly longer route. It was a pleasant evening, the roads were very quiet, and with the evening light glowing, there were more photos to be taken. Later that evening, as we were looking for somewhere to eat in Rothesay, we meet the couple we had been crossing paths with all day. We stopped to chat, she was French, he Scots, they had been worried about our being caught in the rain showers. We explained how we had found shelter, and we all agreed that the Isle of Bute was a lovely place to visit.
There is a map of our route on day 2 here.
My stats for day 2 were:
- Distance cycled – 44.6 Km
- Time spent riding – 02:08:18
- Max Speed – 65.88 Km/h
- Ave Speed – 20.85 Km/h
- Vertical climb – ca. 390 m