Rothesay, Ardbeg and Port Bannatyne

The most populated part of the island – with the best access, and protection from Westerly winds

Ardbeg Point at sea radish flowering time, 8 June 2021 (c) Janet Clapton
Map of the Rothesay, Ardbeg and Port Bannatyne section; edited from Fetcheveryone route planner

Before I seriously thought about completing the swim round Bute, I was swimming every day at Ardbeg Point, as part of the Facebook Scottish Winter Swimming Challenge.
This lovely supportive closed group consists of people who commit in advance to swimming a set distance outdoors each month through the winter months. Participants aim to post a picture of their swim and include the details of the location, distance and duration of swim, air temperature, water temperature, and anything else they want to, such as whether they were in a wetsuit or not.
What I like most is that it’s not full of euphoria. I love open water swimming, but for most of the year, it’s cold and uncomfortable. I love exercise, clouds, sunrises, scenery, wildlife and low key adventures. Sometimes these things cancel out cold, wet and dark. Occasionally they don’t.

28 January 2021. Today’s swim was unrelentingly cold and unpleasant. The only good part was the hot bath afterwards.

Anyway, as soon as 2021’s very cold spring started to relent, it was from my home bit of coast at Ardbeg Point that I ventured further away. I started close to home to avoid getting hypothermia on the way to or from swims, as I was without access to a car. Below 10C air temperature, cycling in a wet wetsuit is very uncomfortable.

Port Bannatyne Quay to Ardmaleish side, 14 May 2021

Most of May was frosty in the early mornings – very unusual for Bute. This Friday morning was a bit choppy and grey, but must have been just about ok for a quick thrash to Ardmaleish and back with Jenny. Nice pearly sky. One way distance: 0.8km

Yachts at Port Bannatyne, 14 May 2021 (c) Janet Clapton

Port Bannatyne Quay to Ardbeg Point, 7 June 2021

A Monday morning one way trip, in beautiful flat calm conditions. Jenny swam to the old pier and back, while I carried on. Late spring is perfect for water clarity and amazing seaweed. One way distance 1.8km

Ardbeg Point to Children’s Corner, Rothesay, 8 June 2021

One of the first big swims of the year, as I did the return trip of 4km. The water temperature must have been above 10, and it was fairly calm, if grey. Sea radish is very common on the West coast of Scotland, and now is it’s best time in flower. Apparently it has complicated parentage. It’s also the best time for thongweed, whose young fronds have a translucent covering. One way distance: 2km

Tearoom to Glenburn Hotel, 16 June 2021

Fairly awful conditions for a 1km urban adventure swim to the green monster rock. We had just moved to our temporary home in Rothesay, while building work was going on in Ardbeg. At least this made the walk home doable.
One way distance: 1.6km

Rothesay kiosk to Children’s Corner, 15 July 2021

A bonus dip of 300m, doing head-up breast stroke in a swimming costume and sandals. One way distance: 300m

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