The West Island Way

The West Island Way was 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 or three days.

The route is waymarked, taking in most of the Island of Bute in around 45 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 3 sections; both the first and last stages being circuits and the middle stage linking the two. However it is possible to descend from the route at several points to reach services or accommodation in Rothesay or elsewhere, and the bus services on the island further help you divide the route into the sections that suit you best.

Stage descriptions Length Time Done
1: Kilchattan Bay circular 8km 2½-3½ hours
2: Kilchattan Bay to Port Bannatyne 18.5km 4½-5½ hours
3: North Bute circuit 20.5km 5-6 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.

Kingarth (near Kilchattan Bay) and Port Bannatyne both have hotels, whilst there is a much larger choice of both hotels and guest houses off route in Rothesay.

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.

Users' walk reports for the West Island Way

There are 275 Walkhighlanders who have completed the West Island Way. To record if you have completed the route, you must register and be logged in. Our users have contributed 9 public walk reports for the route. These are ordered below with the most popular ones first.

Title AuthorDate walked Likes
Video: West Island Way - 2 Day Wild Camp  Hounds of Howgate 27/07/2018  13
Two days on the West Island Way  edinbairn 01/08/2014  5
A weekend hiking the West Island Way  Robbiemo10 29/09/2023  4
West Island Way: wild camping and wildlife  Lorna25 07/07/2021  4
The Isle of Bute's West Island Way - two days  adtaylor 18/08/2020  4
The West Island Way in one day video  Wallis73 12/05/2020  2
West Island Way  jennyfaa 02/06/2011  2
West Island Way South  kmsharp 14/01/2012  1
Vlog: Kilchattan Bay Circular  Behold Scotland 06/05/2019  0

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Walking can be dangerous and all walkers must take personal responsibility for their own safety. You should always carry a backup means of navigation and not rely on a single phone, app or map. Walkhighlands strives to provide accurate information but cannot accept responsibility for changes, errors or omissions.