The gateway from the South into Mackay Country
One of the most beautiful and remote places in the Northern Highlands, where the narrows of Loch Cairnbawn, an inlet of the picturesque Eddrachillis Bay, are guarded by several small islands. The waters are crossed by a car ferry to Kylestrome, opposite which is the small island of Garbh. To the east, the waters of Loch Glendhu and Loch Glencoul penetrate deep into the wild and roadless hills in the manner of Norwegian fjords. The distant peak of Ben Leold, 2,597 ft., overlooks the latter, and at its head is the little-known 658-ft. high waterfall of Eas-coul-Aulin, the highest in Britain, descending to a valley beyond Loch Beag, and approachable only on foot or by boat. It is considered to be about thrice the height of Niagara when in full spate. South of Kylesku, the road to Inchnadamp/z (q.v.) follows the pass between Quinag, 2,653 ft. and Gi92asven, 2,541 ft. Westwards goes the picturesque, but rough, hilly and narrow road along Loch Cairnbawn southern shores leading towards Drumbeg and Lochinver, providing magnificent views, both inland towards the mountains and out to sea for the whole of the distance.
Kylesku NC 225 339 North end of Car park on north side of Kylesku Bridge.
The Kylesku Bridge was opened, in 1984, by the Queen. On the north side of the bridge is the plaque celebrating the opening. The bridge is a beautiful example of the bridge-builder’s art. It is 276m long, and crosses a 130m stretch of water, but is transformed it into something very special by its wonderful curve, coupled with the stunning scenery. The crossing of this straech of water started with A passenger ferry no more than a rowing boat and was introduced in the early 1800s. Commercial traffic mainly comprised of cattle on their way to central Scotland, and they had to swim across. Over the years various ferries came and went, and small car-carrying ferries first appeared between the wars. It was only in 1975 that the Maid of Glencoul appeared as the first roll-on roll-off ferry on the crossing, and the first ferry capable of taking fully loaded commercial vehicles.
Kylesku stretches back along the road from the slipway that used to be the southern end of the ferry crossing. It is now by-passed by the main road heading for the bridge. In the village is the Kylesku Hotel overlooking the slipway. There are also opportunities from here to take boat trips to view the 650ft high Eas-Coul-Aulin waterfall, Britain’s highest, and four times the height of the Niagara Falls. Boat trips are available from here to view the Kerrachar Gardens at the seaward end of the loch, only accessible by boat. Kylesku has a jetty for locally-based fishing boats.
Kylestrome, in the north west of Scotland, is on the A894, about 34 miles north of Ullapool and the southwestern coastal gateway into Mackay Country on the northern side of the bridge. This land is part of the Westminster Estates. One can imagine at one time traveling north following the coast this was a strategic and important entrance to the north west of the Scottish Highlands. Coming from Ullapool towards the north and Mackay Country the first encounter is Kylesku Bridge against the dramatic mountain backdrop and the spectacular scenery. All barriers appear to have been removed and the traveler leaves Assynt and crosses to Mackay Country without ceremony. The gateway still cannot be underestimated and a linger around this location is encouraged. In the car park on the northern side look at the memorial to the submariners who trained at Kylesku during the second world war – it was a training base for two and four man midget submarines. The Village is at the meeting point of three lochs Loch Cairnbawn, Loch Glendhu and Loch Glencoul. Boat trips up the latter gives views of Britain’s highest waterfall, 650ft Eas a Chual Aluinn. There are some excellent walks from and around Kylestrome.
The bridge carries the A894 road over Loch a’ Chaim Bhain at the point where two smaller lochs, Glendhu and Glencoul flow into it. The landscape surrounding this bridge is nothing short of spectacular with a westerly view towards the coast whilst to the east remote mountains. The bridge was opened in 1984 by the Queen and was built by Morrison Construction Limited to a design by Ove Arup and Partners.
Prior to the bridge all traffic north on this coastal route ahd to be carried over by ferry. This was a process that caused long journeys north but added a unique experience to the visit. Now the crossing is quick and hold ups at the waterside have long disappeared.