I haven't been to Bute for many many years. I think I last went as a teen with my parents and their touring caravan, so perhaps I didn't include enough 'many's in that statement. We normally holiday further North in the wilder, more rugged areas of Scotland but I'd had a visit to Montstuart on my 'things to do' list for a while and when the Teen brought up the idea of a road trip, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to spend a night or two on Bute, and add some ferry trips into our journey.
As it turned out there were so many other places we wanted to visit on our round-Scotland trip that we settled for a single night actually on Bute.
Having spent the night at St Catherines on Loch Fyne we headed off for the Colintraive ferry - a really short crossing that finished almost before we realised it had started - but ferries always seem to add an extra bit of adventure to any trip!
Our first stop was Mountstuart at almost the opposite end of the island. I've visited some of the other properties renovated and redesigned by the same Marquis of Bute but even so I wasn't quite prepared for the lavish over-the-top gothic interior. Every surface was intricately decorated in the gaudiest colours imaginable - yet somehow it all pulled together to make a fabulous fairy-tale interior. Perhaps understandably no photography was allowed inside - so either you'll need to visit the official page or, better still, Montstuart itself.
Afterwards we headed into Rothesay to visit the more restrained castle there. Really this is just a consolidated ruin but the whole exterior wall is there - complete with moat - and some of the towers can be climbed and rooms entered. A better castle for full-of-energy children who can play fighting knight or imprisoned princesses as much as they like.
Next morning was time to go but with another ferry trip to look forward to - a longer trip this time and on a larger boat.
There was one last treat in store for us though - a totally unexpected sighting of dolphins playing around the ferry as we made our journey back to the mainland.