Kyle of Lochalsh is a village in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands, with a population of 590 in 2020. 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 century the railway was built from Inverness to Kyle jetty. By the 20th century, 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.
Get in edit
1 Kyle of Lochalsh railway station is mid-town on the former ferry pier. There's a staffed ticket office M-Sa but no machines. The toilets are open during ticket office hours. There is step-free access to the island platform.
Scottish Citylink Bus 915 runs twice a day between Glasgow and Skye. The route north is from Buchanan 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 a day 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.
Get around edit
Kyle is small enough to get around on foot. You may walk or cycle across the bridge, which has sidewalks both sides. That's a good way to visit Eilean Bàn.
Kyle Taxi is on Station Rd, tel +44 1599 534323.
- 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.
- Co-op Food is on Bridge Road 100 yards west of the railway station; on foot ascend the steps by the traffic lights. It's open daily 07:00-22:00.
- Hector's Bothy, Station Road IV40 8EA (100 yards west of station), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-16:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Cafe and bar 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.
As of June 2022, the village and A87 have 4G from EE, O2 and Vodafone, and a basic mobile signal from Three. 5G has not reached this area.
Go next edit
- Plockton is an attractive loch-side village a few miles north by train or car.
- A87 the main road to Inverness passes Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie, a classic photo-stop.
- Take the bridge to Skye.
|Routes through Kyle of Lochalsh|
|Portree ← Kyleakin ←||W S||→ Dornie → Fort Augustus|