The A844 is one of Britain's many island roads. The road forms a circular route around the southern half of the Isle of Bute and is one of two Class I roads on the island. Our journey will begin north of Rothesay at the TOTSO junction with the A886 and follow the route in a clockwise direction.
Isle of Bute Circle
Ardbeg Road Junction
We're just off Kames Bay at the TOTSO with the A886. We have to turn right as we see the bay on the left. We soon hit the first major place on Bute, the village of Port Bannatyne. The road runs inland through the village after which we rejoin the coast and follow it for a while now. We then reach Rothesay, the county town of Bute, after passing Skeoch Wood. Rothesay is quite a pretty town and gives its name to the Duke of Rothesay, one of the titles of the eldest son of the Scottish monarch. We follow Rothesay Bay and reach the main ferry terminal for the ferry to Wemyss Bay in Renfrewshire, from where Glasgow is easily accessible by rail or the A78. Anyway, back on Bute and we pass a road that we'll meet again on the other side, the B881.
We continue round the coast for some distance, passing Bogany Point and then running south through the village of Ascog. The road is a mixture of woods and villages. Soon we hit the Mount Stuart estate which marks the point that we leave the sea. The current Marquess of Bute is former F1 driver and team mate of the late Ayrton Senna, Johnny Dumfries, although he now goes by the name John Bute. Although the road leaves the sea, you are never that far way as Bute is a small island. We go beside the Mount Stuart Estate with more woods and fields before, we meet the B881 at Kingarth and multiplex with it. You can see the coast although we're about a mile from it: we're now on the west side, the Sound of Bute side. We TOTSO near the hamlet of Ambrismore (with the B881 continuing ahead back to Rothesay) and have views over to the 60 m high Inchmarnock Island. There are several bends in this area but presently we head north again on the flat land with the coast on the left and the hills on our right. Near Milton hamlet, we TOTSO again to the left as the B878 turns right and goes back to Rothesay.
There's another hilly bit before a sharp bend to the right leads onto the last bit of the circular route. We pass a few buildings then start to turn eastwards at Ettrick bay. We meet the B875 near to a cemetery where we enter the final phase of the road, a semi-straight piece of road past Kames Castle. Once again, we meet the A886 at Kames Bay where, in this direction, we have to give way. You can do the entire A844 again (or some of it) or head left on the A886 back to the mainland via the Kyles of Bute Ferry which leads (eventually) to the A83.
The original route of the A844 was its current route along the east coast from Rothesay to Kingarth. In the 1920s, it was extended along most of the other classified roads on the island to form a loop with a short stem, a sort of d-shape. This explains the large number of TOTSOs, as they mark the original route.
The A844 took over the whole of the B877 from Ettrick Bay to Rothesay (which gave the road the stem), the B879 from Kames Castle to Ballanlay and the B880 from Milton to Ambrismore. To complete the loop, it also took over part of the B878, from Ballanlay to Milton, and A845, from Ambrismore to Kingarth, leaving the remainder of these two roads behind.
In the 1970s it was decided that the stem of the A844 off to Ettrick Bay was unnecessary and it was downgraded to become the B875.