Kyle of Lochalsh is a small village in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. It is just across the water from Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye and was the traditional route to Skye by ferry. Nowadays the toll-free Skye Bridge carries the A87 across. Kyle has become a bit of a backwater, and doesn't have "sights" or visitor attractions, but is a good base for the countryside around. This includes for Skye, which gets booked solid in July and August.
In Gaelic ceolas, pronounced "kyles", means narrows, and between Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin is the narrowest crossing between the mainland and Skye. A ferryboat has plied here at least since 1600, and in the 19th C the railway was built from Inverness to Kyle jetty. By the 20th C, technically it was no great challenge to build a bridge here, but there wasn't enough traffic to justify doing so. But in the 1960s and 70s tourism and other traffic boomed, ferry capacity was strained, and Kyle in summer became a tetchy queue of vehicles. Bridge construction began in 1992 and it was opened in 1995, using the Private Finance Initiative. Tolls were high and deeply unpopular, and protests and refusals to pay mounted; documents later revealed that the PFI operator was charging ten times the bridge's running costs. The Scottish government bought out the operator at the end of 2004 and tolls ceased.
The Skye Bridge is in two stages, the Carrich Viaduct from the mainland to Eilean Bàn ("White Island"), then the main bridge arching over to Kyleakin. There are no plans to build a railway bridge so Kyle remains the terminus.
By train: four trains run M-Sat from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh taking 2 hrs 40 min, one on Sunday. Their stops include Dingwall, Achnasheen, Stromeferry and Plockton. Buses to Skye connect with these trains.
By bus: Scottish Citylink Bus 915 runs twice daily between Glasgow and Skye. The route north is from Buchanan St Station via Glasgow Airport, Dumbarton, Loch Lomond west bank, Crianlarich, Glencoe, Fort William and Invergarry taking six hours to Kyle. The route continues across Skye via Broadford, Sligachan and Portree to Uig, for ferries to Tarbert on Harris and Lochmaddy on North Uist.
Scottish Citylink Bus 917 runs twice daily from Inverness via Loch Ness, taking two hours to Kyle then onward to Portree as above.
Stagecoach Highlands Bus 55 runs three times M-F to Kyleakin and Broadford on Skye, with two continuing to Torrin and Elgol.
Macrae Kintail Bus 712 runs just once in the morning M-F from Corran via Glenelg, Dornie and Kyle of Lochalsh to Plockton. It immediately turns round for the return, so it's no help for day trips.
The ferry at Kyle stopped running when the bridge opened. There's still a regular ferry between Mallaig and Armadale on the south tip of Skye, and a small ferry from Glenelg in summer.
Kyle is small enough to get around on foot. You may walk or cycle to and across the bridge, which has sidewalks both sides. That's a good way to visit Eilean Bàn.
- 1 Skye Bridge has sidewalks so you can stroll or cycle across. It touches down on Eilean Bàn, where a track leads to the Gavin Maxwell Cottage (now self-catering, sleeps four) and Kyleakin lighthouse, no longer in use. The islet is private property but occasional tours are run by the Brightwater visitor centre at Kyleakin.
- 1 The Co-op, Bridge Road (on a hill overlooking the pier, on foot use the steps near the traffic lights). daily 07:00-23:00. mid-sized supermarket.
- 1 Hectors Bothy, Station Road, ☏ . Daily 09:00-22:00. Cafe serving fish & chips and other homemade fresh food and snacks; Hectors 2 Go is their takeaway, nearby on Main Street.
- Buth Bheag, Old Ferry Slip, ☏ . Small shop and take out place. The seafood sandwiches are very nice and quite cheap.
- Waterside Restaurant, Train station platform, Kyle of Lochalsh, ☏ . Daily 17:30-21:00. Specialises in simple, fresh seafood.
- The Islander Bar is open Su-F 12:00-00:00, and also has a restaurant.