Bute Forest is located on the north end of the Isle of Bute. The community owned land merges with that owned by other parties and the paths, trails and interesting sites run throughout.
How to get there…
The northern entrance to the community forest, which is the Oak Woodland or Balnakailly Woodland area, can be reached by parking at the ferry terminal and walking north through the gate across the field and by then simply following the path. This is the SSSI area and Balnakailly Loop.
The southern entrance to the community forest, known as the commercial part or Rhubodach, can be reached by heading up the forest access track next to Rhubodach Cottage on the A886 shortly before the ferry terminal. The first gate can be opened and you can drive through to a small parking area at the second gate. This track is used for harvesting the timber and leads to our work area before extending across the forest. The track can be used for cycling or walking and there is usually little traffic along it. This leads to the work area and Painted Rock Trail.
From Rothesay or Port Bannatyne, drive north along the A844 along the coast. Stay on this coastal road as it becomes the A886 shortly past Port Bannatyne and follow it until you reach the Rhubodach-Colintraive ferry crossing. From Rothesay to the ferry terminal by car takes around 20 minutes. Alternatively you can park at the southern entrance (see above).
... by public transport:
Buses 90, 477, 479 and 490 stop at the Rhubodach – Colintraive ferry terminal. You can see the bus timetables here. They take approximately 20 minutes from Rothesay to the ferry terminal. You can then continue north to the northern entrance or south along the road to the southern entrance.
… by cycle:
You can cycle along the A886 and there are bike racks by the ferry where you can secure your bike if proceeding by foot.
If you wish to cycle around the forest, then the forest track accessed next to Rhubodach Cottage has one stile which needs to be crossed and is then suitable for mountain bikes. We do not recommend that you cycle through the Oak or Balnakailly Woodland as the ground is not suitable.
… by foot:
You can walk along the A886 but should be aware that there are large sections without a footpath although there is a grass verge which you can walk along or the shoreline.
The West Island Way goes through the forest, either by taking the marked route from the road between Port Bannatyne and Ettrick Bay (A844) or the route starting along the A886 just north of Kames Castle.
We recommend you purchase a map of the West Island Way from the numerous sale points on the island and take a compass as the path is not always clear. You can see more information about the route here. You should also be aware that many sections are boggy underfoot.
How to get around…
A leaflet map of the forest and paths is available at the Discovery Centre and other locations around Bute.
… by car or minibus:
We don’t allow people to often drive around the forest, but if you had a special reason for doing so then we may be able to arrange this for you. Contact us to discuss.
… by cycle:
The forest track outlined on the map above and indicated on the Ordnance Survey map is suitable for people on mountain bikes. The forest track is accessed next to Rhubodach Cottage and has one stile which needs to be crossed at the beginning.
We do not recommend that you cycle through the Oak or Balnakailly Woodland as the ground is not suitable. We also do not consider the Sight Hill Loop to be suitable for cyclists.
… by foot:
There are two areas to explore on foot, the Balnakailly or Oak Woodland and the commercial or Rhubodach Forest using the Balnakailly Loop or the Forest Track (see above). You can now also take our new foot trail, the Painted Rock Trail. This starts on the access track just past the work area, around 1.5km from the southern entrance.