Scotland's Great Trails

The West Island Way

The West Island Way is Scotland's first official island long distance footpath and was opened in 2000 to celebrate the turn of the millenium. You could walk it in one epic, two, three, four or even five days.

The route is waymarked, running the complete length of the Island of Bute for around 40 kilometres. It crosses a varied landscape, with a fascinating stretch of coastline, beaches, rich farmland, moors, forests and fine views of Arran and the Cowal peninsula.

We describe the route split into 4 sections, with the fourth along the tarmac road back to Port Bannatyne. However this also an alternative higher-level route through forestry and pathless moorland, reached by diverting near the end of Stage 3 given here. This option, however, is only suitable for experienced hillwalkers.

Stage descriptions Length Time
Stage 1: Kilchattan Bay circular 8km 2.5 - 4 hours
Stage 2: Kilchattan Bay to Port Bannatyne 18.5km 4.5 - 5.5 hours
Stage 3: Kames Bay to Rhubodach 13.75km 3.5 - 4.5 hours
Stage 4: Rhubodach to Port Bannatyne 8.5km 2 hours


The West Island Way is fairly well waymarked but gives rough going in places, also with some boggy stretches underfoot.


The Isle of Bute is a popular destination and offers a wide choice of accommodation options.

Kilchatten Bay and Port Bannatyne both have hotels, whilst there is a much larger choice of both hotels and guest houses in Rothesay. Rhubodach does not offer any accommodation or facilities, but is linked back to Rothesay by bus.

It is also possible to break the second stage by making a short detour into Rothesay. It may be convenient to use Rothesay as a base for the entire walk and use public transport to get to and from each stage; the town also has self catering options.


There are two ferry routes to the Isle of Bute. The main service links the capital, Rothesay, with Wemyss Bay, which in turn has a rail link to Glasgow. At the northern end of the island a second ferry runs between Rhubodach and Colintraive on the Cowal peninsula.

On the island itself the east coast is served by buses, with both Rhubodach (via Port Bannatyne) and Kilchatten Bay linked by bus to Rothesay.

Timetables for all the routes can be found on Traveline Scotland.

The following users have walked the West Island Way:

Anonymous  Paul Webster  helenw  nugget106  Johnoneill1916  macgritter  mmaciocia  mountainstar  kiltedbiggles  loates  aberdeen  Dr Dave  warrior  shugy  GrahamWebby  kennyabh  AliBe  ian@originalart.net  kmsharp  slioch69  kokkie  valleyofghosts  afadams  Janettemair  stuartwhyte13  bowler  frosty  WoollyMammut  mardenb  shineonsyd  geomcn  macrae13  laurahatton88  jenp23  mixmasterbobo  williamkirk101  steve_d  abrach  karen3rdi  melinah78  PsyJorik  fergie 611  slioch691  rosscoc87  fionafish  josiet1950  mirrlees348  sjstony  Cafewriter  annewil  Widgeye  hdally  Kepler306  Aldawen  mbrazas 

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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.