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Hunting, Golf & Other Great Outdoor Pursuits on the Isle of Bute

The sea and sky frame the wild and wonderful setting of the Isle of Bute, a paradise for lovers of the outdoors; combining classic Scottish Highlands terrain with farmlands, fields and forest groves.

It’s also a vast hunting ground for the age-old Scottish pursuit of deer stalking, with an abundance of both large and small game. Add fly fishing in Loch Fad, three golf courses with sensational views, plus outstanding hiking trails, and it offers activity-focused holidaymakers the ideal getaway from it all.

Isle of Bute image
Your Isle of Bute idyll awaits

In this blog, VCMS explores the attraction of the Isle of Bute for hunting, fishing, golf and more, complete with handpicked properties from seaside retreats to a 19th century stable conversion built to accommodate guests’ hunting dogs.   


Haven for Hunting

Love it or loathe it, hunting is a Scottish tradition, and the Isle of Bute possesses some of the finest historic hunting grounds in Scotland. Despite its size, the Isle is mostly wild and features many types of typically Scottish terrain.

From the mists rolling across the locks at first light, the contrasting green of the coniferous woods, meadows rolling down to the sea framed by yellow Scottish broom, and the moody ocean flecked with foaming waves, the scene is mostly always dramatic.

Loch in Scotland
Breaking dawn on a Scottish loch

Listen for the angry bark or roar of roe and deer while falling under the spell of the natural surroundings where the air is heavy with the fragrance of peat, and where hunter and dog can tune their senses into nature at its wildest.

Deer in Scotland
Monarch of the glen grazing in Scotland

Besides the deer, the other star of Bute’s hunting scene is the woodcock, known as the Queen of the Wood and the ultimate game bird for the pot. The island’s mild climate combined with the warm Gulf Stream current brings the challenging quarry to Bute from the Scottish Highlands, Norway, and Russia when woodcocks migrate to avoid harsh winter conditions.  

Tranquil Trout Fishing

What can be better than fly-fishing on a scenic Scottish loch as night turns into dawn, trout rise on a glass-still lake, and the sounds of nature turn the sport into an act of reverence?

Man fishing for trout
Fly-fishing on the Isle of Bute


At 175 acres, Loch Fad (‘long loch’) lies just off the west coast of Scotland along the Highland fault line and is listed by Scottish Natural Heritage as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its exquisite beauty and abundance of diverse flora and fauna, including both rainbow and brown trout.

Surrounded by hills of emerald conifers, Loch Fad drops to a maximum depth of 36ft at the narrows, with both ends of the lake shallower and perfect natural feeding ground for trout.

Next to Loch Fad is Loch Quein, a shallow 90-acre shallow loch holding both wild and stocked brown trout.

Golfers’ Getaway

Scotland is blessed with some of the world’s oldest and most spectacular golf courses, and the Isle of Bute is home to three of them.

Close to the golden sands of Stravannan Bay is Kingarth where Bute Golf Club’s nine-hole course has hosted golfers for over 129 years. This historic course is Bute’s oldest and surrounded by dramatic sea and sky scenery and backdropped by The Sleeping Warrior of Arran, the name for dreamy distant peaks resembling a reclining human.

Rothesay Golf Course
Rothesay Golf Course, Isle of Bute

American golfing legend and winner of 11 professional majors between 1914 and 1929, Walter Hagen, once exclaimed while playing the 1892-founded Rothesay Golf Course that nowhere in the world could beat it for views.

The course snakes around a 400ft hill offering commanding views of the Mull of Kintyre, the Firth of Clyde, Lochs Ridden and Striven, the Cowal Hills, the Isle of Arran and the Ayrshire Hills. While just 5419 yards long, this 18-hole course nevertheless poses a formidable challenge to beginners and scratch golfers alike. Scottish pro golfer and Ryder Cup regular in the 1950s Eric Brown once dubbed the 4th hole one of the most difficult par threes in Europe.

With views like you get at this course, for most casual golfers, bogeys on the 4th won’t be what you take home from Rothesay Golf Course. Scottish golf magazine Bunkered summed it up by stating if the Rothesay course doesn't take your breath away "you probably weren’t breathing to begin with.”

The third course is Port Bannatyne Golf Club, set in a pretty seaside village overlooking Loch Striven. With thirteen holes, players tackle the first 12 holes, return to play the first five holes and then end the game with a separate 18th hole. 

19th Hole Nirvana

After a day’s golfing, hunting or fishing, head over to the island’s most talked about 19th hole, the Isle of Bute Distillery. Using a Portuguese copper still, the distillery produces small batch craft gin using typically Scottish botanicals sourced locally and water from Loch Ascog, with tours and tastings.

Loch Ascog, Isle of Bute
Raise a toast to Loch Ascog

Along with beautifully presented bottles of gorse, heather, juniper and angelica infused gins, there’s the Isle of Bute Distillery’s masterpiece, Oyster Gin. This world’s first must-sample gin is made with Loch Fyne oyster shells soaked in gin and distilled to create delicate, seaside aromas and savoury flavours. 

Perfect Properties

VCMS XP Holidays is thrilled to bring you handpicked villas and historical conversions on the Isle of Bute that cater to guests who demand modern luxury mixed with vast properties in the middle of Scotland’s spectacular natural scenery.

For hunters and their dogs, Balmory Stables is a castaway 19th century stable conversion fitted with hoses, towels and treats for your dogs after a day in the wilds.

Pointer stalking prey
Hunting dogs are welcome on the Isle of Bute

Lodge Eleonora meanwhile is a waterfront bungalow offering guests incredible views across Ascog Bay from the showpiece lounge, hot tub on the terrace, and front-facing bedroom.


To discover more about the Isle of Bute, or to book your great Scottish outdoors vacation, be sure to contact one of your VCMS XP team members today.

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