Those who make the short trip across the relatively recently built road bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye find themselves being deposited at the eastern end of the village of Kyleakin, which they will miss altogether if they opt to continue along the A87 towards Portree, the island's capital. This would be a shame, because it is a pretty village, much quieter now than it used to be when it was the terminus for the now-defunct ferry, and enjoying majestic views across the Kyle, up Loch Alsh to the Five Sisters of Kintail, an area of mountains on the mainland.
The King of Norway passed by here with his fleet in 1263 on his way to Largs, where he would be defeated by Alexander III's men. The Norwegian connection continues at the ruined Castle Maol, an earlier version of which is said to have been built by a Norwegian princess nicknamed "Saucy Mary", daughter of King Haakon of Norway and wife of Findanus, the 4th Chief of the MacKinnons. The story goes that she used to stretch a chain across the Kyle and charge a toll to any ship attempting to pass through. Overlooking the pier at Kyleakin is the Bright Water Visitor Centre, run by the Eilean Ban Trust, the owners of the island of Eilean Ban, or "White Island", which nestles below the road bridge. The Trust promotes and preserves the heritage and wildlife of the island and runs guided tours from April to October, including a visit to the lighthouse cottage which was home to the author and naturalist Gavin Maxwell and has been restored as a museum to the author, who is best known for his book Ring Of Bright Water about his relationship with an otter, from which the Visitor Centre gets its name.
Webcam showing the harbour and the castle.
Map of the area.
© 2006 Dave Fergusson, via Wikimedia Commons