Scalpsie Bay
Scalpsie Bay

Scalpsie Bay is a lovely, secluded bay on the west coast of the Isle of Bute, facing south towards the Sound of Bute and the Isle of Arran. Scalpsie is known for its resident herd of grey seals, which can often be seen sunning themselves on rocks just offshore, at the northwestern end of the bay.

You can spot seals at the appropriately named viewpoint of Seal View, off the A844 coastal road. There are roughly 200 seals, and they can frequently be spotted on low rocks just offshore when the sun is out. The best time to see the seals is when the tide is out, when up to 100 seals can be found sunning themselves.

You can often spot porpoises and basking sharks offshore, as well as playful otters around the shoreline.

A watchful seal at Scalpsie Bay
A watchful seal at Scalpsie Bay

There is a small, rocky foreshore leading down to a broad beach of reddish sand, up to 1km (0.6 miles) long at low tide.

A pair of small burns run down into Scalpsie Bay. The easternmost burn is Quien Burn, which runs out of Loch Quien, 500m inland of the sandy beach. Beside the burn are the remains of a mill that was first recorded in 1497. An old millstone lies near the mill site.

Overlooking the northwestern end of Scalpse Bay is Dun Scalpsie, a very small Iron Age hillfort occupying the summit of a low hill. WWII Home Guard defences are built into the dun wall.

The bay and beach were used by the British military during WWII. You can still see the remains of timber posts in the sand. These were installed as anti-glider defences because the bay was thought to be a possible landing site for an Axis invasion.

WWII anti-glider post on the beach
WWII anti-glider post on the beach

Getting There

Scalpsie Bay is on the A844 coastal road about 5km (3 miles) northwest of Kingarth. There are two parking areas, both on the A844. One is immediately east of the hamlet of Scalpsie (NS060586) and the second is near Seal View (NS051583). There is a picnic area at the latter parking site.

I visited Scalpsie several times during our visit to Bute, just to see the seals, and it was worth it. You can get remarkably close to them, but take care to move slowly so as not to startle them.

More Photos

About Scalpsie Bay, Bute
Address: A844, Rothesay, Bute, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Attraction Type: Countryside
Location: Off the A844, 5km northwest of Kingarth. The main parking area is at NS060586.
Website: Scalpsie Bay, Bute
Location map
OS: NS057583
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

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Blackpark Standing Stones - 2.3 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

St Ninian's Bay Standing Stones - 2.5 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Stravanan Bay Stone Row - 2.5 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Mount Stuart - 3.2 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Craigberoch Standing Stone - 3.4 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Dunagoil Hill Fort - 3.7 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Rothesay, St Mary's Chapel - 3.8 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Nearest Holiday Cottages to Scalpsie Bay, Bute:

Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Scalpsie Bay and Seals. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.

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