I relocated from Chichester to Bute in September 2020. My mother was born on an island off the coast of Norway, and I had worked on a Greek island for 25 years, so Bute had a great appeal to me.
One of my friends took me to Kilchattan, and I knew immediately that I could live here and feel at home. For me, the decision to move to Bute brought numerous rewards; cleaner air, incredible light and scenery, and the major benefit of not being stuck in traffic jams.
One of the best aspects of Bute (and Scotland in general) is its inhabitants. What you see is truly what you get. This means it is easier to make real connections with people.
When I moved to Kilchattan, and locals found out I had a background in water sports, several people asked me if I was going to set up a kayak rental business. Many years ago, rowing boats had been available to hire from the Pier. I had already been teaching Watersports for 35 years and managed centres in Cornwall and abroad so felt comfortable with the practical side of the business.
Mount Stuart and the Committee that looks after Kilchattan Pier were supportive of my proposal from the get-go. I found out about Business Gateway, and I booked one to one sessions with an advisor which were invaluable. I was able to obtain a Start-Up Grant to help with the purchase of additional equipment. The Scottish Canoe Association was also very helpful, they have a superb training program. I required a licence from the Council and was inspected by an Environmental Health officer, who was knowledgeable and gave valuable advice. Even the Coastguard and local hospital were fully cooperative and constructive in their advice.
In December 2021, I launched Kilchattan Bay Kayaking Ltd. During the summer months, I rent paddle boarding and kayaking equipment from the Pier in Kilchattan Bay. I also offer Paddle Safer courses and guided introductions to paddling to small groups.
My business is very dependent on the weather, so it is an economically fragile business model. However, because I love being on or near the water, and really want to introduce others to watersports, the intrinsic benefits are more important to me than the financial ones. I enjoy my work every day.
I would encourage any young person with a trade to move to Bute. It feels as though there is more room for new businesses to establish themselves.