Thought I would squeeze in another island while the weather is still decent. Off to Rothesay we go.
Rothesay is the main town on the Isle of Bute. It is easy to get there from Glasgow by train and as a bonus, you get to go through Wemyss* Bay Station, one of the most beautiful railway stations in the UK.
Get off the train and go down the adjoining walkway to get the ferry (operated by CalMac). The scenic crossing through the First of Clyde takes around 35 minutes.
Bute is one of the easiest islands to visit, because it’s so accessible. Get off the ferry and you’re right in the centre of Rothesay. The Esplanade has a lovely vintage seaside feel.
There are all kinds of shops and odd things to look at. Sadly, Zavaroni’s, home of the Top Hat (an ice cream cone with a Tunnock’s snowball squashed into it), and the Victorian toilets were both closed.
This little gem was still open – I was taking a picture of the shopfront, thinking it had long closed, when the owner came back from lunch and gave me a wee look inside. He said he’ll be closing up at the end of the year.
How can you compete with young guns like Wesley Snips?
After that it was time to head home again, with a beautiful view of all the Victorian villas along the shore and a plan to see more of Bute on my next visit.
They were a while ago now, but what I did on my summer holidays was go to Oban (a town on the west coast of Scotland) with the goal of getting to as many Scottish islands as possible. Getting to, and staying on the islands has been pretty challenging this year – getting to the big islands was pretty much out of the question, but there are lots of small ones that are easily reachable from Oban or nearby.
Number 1: Easdale Island
Easdale is one of my favourite places on Earth. Home to the World Stone Skimming Championships, it is relatively easy to get to, and can be walked round in a day, or an afternoon depending on how much you want to see.
It is one of the Slate Islands – a chain of small islands in the Inner Hebrides, and is pitted with deep pools made from disused slate quarries.
The island is car-free – residents have wheelbarrows instead.
The small 10-people ferry runs regularly from Ellanabeich, which is also a pretty wee place.
The crossing takes about 5 minutes, and it is not possible to book it (there’s usually no need).
Alan Dimmick is a Glaswegian photographer, best known for photographing Glasgow’s art scene. He is posting archive photos on Instagram at the moment, fascinating to me because many are taken around Hyndland/Partick/Anniesland where I grew up.
The Windsor Cafe on Clarence Drive was my first local cafe, a real treasure trove of sweets and ice cream. The owners, pictured here, were a Scots-Italian brother and sister, with infinite patience from what I remember.
Jonathan Treen is also posting archive photos of 1970s Glasgow on Twitter (@JonathanTreen) just now. Some of the locations are instantly recognisable, others changed beyond recognition.
I visited Irvine a couple of months ago, after winning a night out there in a raffle.
The fifth of Scotland’s new towns – the others are East Kilbride, Cumbernauld, Glenrothes and Livingston – it was added onto an existing (and very pretty in parts) historic town.
The vision for Irvine was spectacular space-age Brutalism. The reality doesn’t quite match the vision but there are some interesting things going on with bus lanes, and a strange predilection for tiny, irregular windows.