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Isle Of Bute Things To Do (According To A Local!)

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This week’s Through The Eyes Of A Local interview is from Susanne, a travel blogger and resident Scot.

She’ll be telling us all about her hometown of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute including recommendations on Isle of Bute things to do, what Scottish food you should try, plus some expert advice if you want to move to Scotland from another country…


1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?

Hi! My name is Susanne Arbuckle and I currently live in a town called Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, off the West Coast of Scotland.

I’m a Scottish travel blogger and love nothing more than inspiring people to visit Scotland and explore beyond the typical tourist trail.

2. How long have you lived in Rothesay? And what brought you here?

I’m originally a city girl from Glasgow, however just over 4 years ago we had the opportunity to sample island life thanks to my husband’s job.

We jumped at the chance to move and enjoy a much slower pace of life. Having a more outdoors lifestyle and coastal scenery on my doorstep is a dream come true.

3. What do you love most about your hometown?

The Isle of Bute is only an hour by train or car from Glasgow and then 35 minutes on the ferry, so it is a really accessible Scottish island to visit and ideal for a day trip or weekend break.

It is fairly flat and popular with cyclists; you can also hire a bike locally and I think this is a great way to explore.

In Rothesay there is a castle with a moat in the middle of the town which is pretty unusual and the island is also home to Mount Stuart House, which is said to be the greatest Gothic Mansion in the UK – it really is spectacular.

But the thing I love most is the scenery; there are some beautiful beaches and plenty of walking trails with a view.

The island is packed with Scottish history and I’m always amazed that in one day I can span time by visiting sites all the way through from the Iron Age to the Victorian era on one small island.


4. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit the Isle of Bute or Scotland?

I guess the thing that frustrates me in my hometown is tourists not exploring beyond the main town of Rothesay – there is so much else to see on the island.

As for Scotland, it is a bit frustrating when tourists visit Edinburgh, Inverness or the Isle of Skye and think they have experienced all of Scotland.

The country is made up of many different regions, cities and islands, which have their own individual cultures, history and identity.

To really experience and understand Scotland and its people, you need to explore the unique regions from the Lowlands to the Highlands and from the East to the West.

Following the ‘tourist trail’ will only give you a very small snapshot.

This is one of the reasons I promote lesser known places on my travel blog and try to encourage people to explore a different side of Scotland.

5. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of a visitor’s wishlist when exploring Scotland?

While I totally understand the allure of Edinburgh and the popular attractions around Scotland (they are popular for a reason!), there are great alternatives out there.

Here are a few ideas of Scotland and Isle of Bute things to do:

  • A visit to a Scottish castle is a must. There are countless castles all over the country to choose from in various states of repair. I personally think Stirling Castle is a good choice for a first time visitor.
  • Take a boat tour under the Forth Bridges from Queensferry. They are amazing feats of engineering and this is a unique way to view them.
  • Visit Oban, a pretty town on the West Coast and the gateway to the isles. There are many islands you can visit from here – try Mull as a less touristy alternative to Skye.
  • Visit the abbeys in the Scottish Borders and Abbotsford House, home of Sir Walter Scott.
  • Follow the Robert Burns trail through Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway, taking in a few castles along the way.
  • Take a road-trip along the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail, passing places like Dunnottar Castle and Perterhead Prison Museum, Scotland’s answer to Alcatraz!
  • Explore the quaint fishing villages along the East Neuk of Fife.

There are plenty more suggestions on my blog if you need some inspiration.


6. What foods must visitors eat when in Scotland?

Haggis is a must and most good Scottish restaurants will serve it in some form, I love it!

Scotland is also known for its fresh seafood, and again, this should be easy to find in decent eateries around the country.

The Scottish diet has a bad reputation at times but we actually have lots of great food producers and farm shops can be a great place to pick up local produce.

7. What’s your favourite word in your local language? Why? What does it mean?

Numpty – It means idiot. I just love the sound of it and it’s not as offensive as calling someone stupid.

8. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Scotland from another country?

Scotland is a very welcoming place and the people are friendly so you should feel at home in no time.

We are generally quite laid back, with a good sense of humour. If you don’t take yourself too seriously and can laugh at yourself, you will get on well.

Also, make sure you have a wardrobe for all weathers!

9. If you could describe your hometown in just one sentence, what would you say?

Rothesay is a Victorian sea-side town on a pretty Scottish island.

10. If tourists were to know one thing about the Scottish culture, what should that be?

Sadly most men in Scotland rarely wear kilts, and if they do, it is generally only on formal occasions like weddings.

The majority of men don’t even own a kilt and usually just hire one out if needed, sorry to shatter the illusion!

Thanks Susanne! We’ve loved getting to know you and the Isle of Bute better!

If you want to find out more about this stunning part of Scotland, take a look at Susanne’s blog: Adventures Around Scotland which is full of tips, inspiration and recommendations! Or… follow her along on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook!

And… if you loved Susanne’s interview, don’t forget to share it around now!

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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