Many thanks to Jennifer from the Press and Journal for these kind words and for paddling one of our Tiderace Xcape kayaks.
Saturday, September 8, 2012 http://www.eveningexpress
By Jennifer McKiernan
THIS haven of natural beauty immerses visitors in the best of Scottish wilderness, with adventure sports including sea kayaking and mountain biking to flex the muscles and thoroughly relax the mind.
Bute is Scotland’s most accessible island and is less than an hour away from Glasgow – making it a great destination for a short break.
As we neared the isle, the ferry was funnelled between the spectacular kyles into Rothesay harbour, where the sunlight twinkled off the windows of flanks of grand hotels facing the water. A two-minute walk and we were at the entrance to the Victoria Hotel, with two stained glass gas lamps standing sentry at the door. I took a few minutes to get settled into my room, with its large window swathed with heavy, racing green curtains, matching bedclothes and a welcoming bowl of fresh fruit. Dinner was served next to floor-to- ceiling windows, giving a stunning view over the bay and sailing boats bathed in the rosy blush of the sunset. Saturday dawned cloudy and windy – not ideal conditions for sea kayaking – but the benefit of being on an island meant plenty of choice of sheltered spots out of the wind. Our expert tutor Roddy has more than 30 years experience of sea kayaking and the dramatic tales to go along with his adventuring were highly entertaining.
Having never been in a sea kayak before, it was hugely reassuring to be kitted out and guided by Roddy’s self-assured hand. As an amateur, I expected to be taking to the water in something close to a plastic bucket so I was overjoyed to be given a state-of the-art kayak instead. With the basics under our belts, we stopped for a mid-morning break with Roddy’s speciality: a flask of hot espresso coffee, melted chocolate and a spoonful of Baileys.
Suitably fortified and with the winds fortuitously dying down, we made a break for St Ninian’s Bay on the west coast of the island. Passing Ettrick Bay, the colours of the golden sands, the greens, blues and turquoises of the clear water and sky were breathtakingly beautiful. At one point a colony of curious seals popped up to see who the visitors were. Soon I was surrounded by four or five seals bobbing up out of the waves, eyes and nostrils just above the waterline. One seal popped up so close to my kayak I could almost touch its glistening skin.
Back at the hotel I took full advantage of the aromatherapy bubble bath to soak my muscles and the complimentary shampoo and conditioner to wash all the sea salt out of my hair.
I HOW TO GET THERE: There are frequent trains between Aberdeen, Glasgow and Wemyss Bay. Caledonian MacFerries from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay Bay take 35 minutes, leave hourly and cost £8.10 return. Contact 0800 066 5000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
I WHAT TO DO: Try a trip around the Isle of Bute – one of Scotland’s world class sea kayaking destinations – with expert tuition from Roddy McDowell of Kayak Bute. For more information call 077652 416 86 or 01700 50 3126 or check out http://www.kayakbute.co.uk