History of Port Bannatyne

Port Bannatyne is a picturesque coastal village, located on the east side of the Isle of Bute, on the First of Clyde, Scotland. Port Bannatyne, along with its neighbour, Ardbeg, is situated along the south banks of Kames Bay.

Originally known as Kamesburgh, the village’s historical moments of note date back to 1801 when Lord Bannatyne intended to set up a rival for Rothsay – a village located around a mile and a half north of Port Bannatyne. The village built a small harbour, and already had a castle with a little keep which dated back to the 1300’s, which is where Lord Bannatyne lived. Kames Castle has, over its history, had a number of renovations and improvements made. During the 1700’s, the castle was extended via some low-level buildings, and in the 18th century, a house was also built onto it. It is likely that the moat was also filled in during the 1700s. The castle also contains a 14th century tower and is set in 20 acres of land which also hosts to a walled garden. Remarkably, the house is still used as a residence today which shows how well it was built, and how respected and well-maintained it has been throughout the castle’s history.

It wasn’t until 1860 that Kamesburgh became Port Bannatyne. The marquess of Bute purchased the part of the island known as Kamesburgh and re-named it to reflect the long-standing association between the Bannatyne family and the surrounding area. In 1879, developments were made to connect Port Bannatyne with other villages in the region and a narrow gauge horse-drawn tram was created to link Bannatyne with Rothesay. In 1902, the tram became electrified and extended to reach Ettrick Bay.

Ettrick Bay has – arguably down to its connection with Port Bannatyne - become the most popular beach on Bute. Its uniqueness and attractive qualities are characterised by a boat wreckage and quaint tea room which attract tourists all year round. Its sandy beach is approximately a mile long, and the bay plays host to a range of seabirds. One of the Bay’s attractions is the ‘Ettrick Bay Stone Circle’ which is a series of 8 stones found up in the valley.

Linking Ettrick Bay with Rothsay and Port Bannatyne, the electric tram has given tourists and locals the opportunity to explore this largely unknown area of Scotland easily. Whereas Rothsay is a slightly busier town, Port Bannatyne now provides a much quieter alternative to Rothesay and this has become the village’s reputation within the 20th Century. One of the most important local industries that the village has today, is boat building.

Today, Port Bannatyne has a popular harbour which also has a small yacht marina. The region’s landscape provides a beautiful and peaceful surrounding for visitors. Indeed, it is possible to spend days, staring out at the boats and natural wildlife which surround the harbour and marina! Although it is a small village, there are some quaint houses situated in Port Bannatyne, made out of slate and stone. Staring out to sea, it is easy to see why locals remain here and attract other people to the area. What better place to have a holiday home, or even to retire to? In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking that they had gone back in time a couple of centuries as the village has been relatively untouched in the last couple of hundred years.

The stone pier that is situated in Port Bannatyne provides a further focus of interest and adds to the splendid scenery. As well as coming to Port Bannatyne to get away from the stress and strains of everyday life, the area could act as a perfect addition to an art gallery should a professional or amateur artist choose to paint the pier. Behind the pier, the area now boasts a selection of shops and a hotel, providing tourists and locals with a mixture of activities whilst holidaying or visiting the village.

In its contemporary state, Port Bannatyne has the usual features of most modern-day villages. It has a post office and a couple of public houses in addition to the aforementioned hotel. Although this has made it more popular with holiday-makers and tourists, it is still behind Rothsay in terms of visitor numbers. Despite this, Port Bannatyne is still a more scenic spot and feels more relaxing than its counterpart. I daresay that Port Bannatyne has no bad feelings towards Rothsay, and is quite happy playing second best in terms of numbers visiting! Indeed, it is probably this feature that makes it a more attractive option in terms of holiday choice.

Port Bannatyne also has views which look out over the Argyll hills and the Isle of Arran: other areas which have a host of features to keep visitors attracted. Port Bannatyne is also a popular place to visit for those who enjoy golf as a hobby, due to its unique golf course. There is a range of leisurely relaxing activities that holiday makers and visitors can enjoy.

Another sport which takes place in Port Bannatyne, is Petanque – a lesser known ball game which is played in a similar fashion to crown-green bowls. As the name hints, Petanque originates from France, and is a reflection of the links held between Port Bannatyne and other regions overseas. Petanque can be enjoyed on a variety of playing surfaces, and the club which is located in Port Bannatyne provides arguably one of the best backdrops from courses all over the world, as it is on the seafront. Why not stop and enjoy a break from the game, enjoying the beautiful views before continuing?

Although Port Bannatyne is a remote village, it can still be easily accessed from most destinations around the world. The usual route is via Wemyss Bay which has a direct train route with the two Glasgow airports. The trip from Wemyss Bay to Port Bannatyne is by ferry which takes around 35 minutes, with a ferry leaving every 45 minutes.