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Gaelic: An Caolas Cumhang
Kylesku bridge surroundings.JPG
Kylesku and surroundings
Grid reference: NC230336
Location: 58°15’20"N, 5°1’3"W
Post town: Lairg
Postcode: IV27 4
Local Government
Council: Highland
Caithness, Sutherland
and Easter Ross

Kylesku is a small, remote fishing hamlet in north-western Sutherland. Until 1984, it was the site of a free ferry.

The village is to be found at a natural crossing-point, where a small island, Garbh Eilean sits in the throat of a sea-loch, Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin, almost choking it off from the waters inland of that point, which are known as Loch Glencoul and Loch Gleann Dubh. There is therefore just a narrow sea passage, known as Caolas Cumhann, joining the inner waters to Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin and thence to the sea in Eddrachillis Bay.

The village of Kylesku is on the south shore of the passage and stretches back along the road from the slipway that used to be the southern end of the ferry crossing. Now by-passed by the main road carried over the bridge, the Kylesku Hotel overlooks the slipway.[1]

Garbh Eilean was joined, except at high tide, to the north shore, and is now permanently joined by a causeway bearing the A894 road. On the north shore is the smaller village of Kylestrome.

About the village

Nearby is Eas a' Chual Aluinn, Britain's highest waterfall. This can be visited on a boat trip aboard Rachael Clare.[1]

Kylesku sits at the centre of an area of 770 square miles which has become Scotland's first 'Global Geopark'.[2] There is abundant wildlife and a wide range of outdoor pursuits in or on the lochs, mountains and white sandy beaches, including bird watching, seal and otter spotting, fishing, climbing and hill walking.

A cairn on the north side, erected in 1993, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the formation of the XIIth Submarine Flotilla, a unit of "X-craft" and "Chariot" miniature submarines, which trained in Lochs Glendhu and Glencoul from 1943.[1]


Queen of Kylesku in 1971

There was a passenger ferry (a rowing boat) in the early 19th century.[1] Commercial traffic mainly comprised cattle on their way to the Lowlands, and they had to swim across. Over the years, various ferries came and went, and small car-carrying ferries first appeared between the wars. The Kylesku Ferry was unusual in being free for much of its life.[1]

The Maid of Kylesku, a two car ferry, was built for the Kylesku crossing in the early 1950s, where it served until replaced by the Queen of Kylesku in 1967.[1] When no longer needed, the Maid of Kylesku was simply beached and lay, grounded on the opposite side of the bay.

In 1976, the MV Maid of Glencoul|, built in Ardrossan, became the first vessel capable of carrying fully loaded commercial vehicles.[1] After the opening of the Kylesku Bridge she went on to serve as the Corran Ferry.

The new bridge across the Kyles


The ferry service became known as a dreaded bottleneck on the route north - south and was replaced by the Kylesku Bridge in 1984.[3] This was opened by the Queen. The bridge is 906 feet long and crosses a 427-foot stretch of water.[1] The curving, five-span, continuous, pre-stressed concrete, hollow bridge, has been described as one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.[2]

See also

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Kylesku)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Kylesku". Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "More about the Kylesku Area". Kylesku Hotel. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  3. Atkinson, Tom (1986). The Empty Lands. Luarth Press. ISBN 0-946487-13-8. 
  • KyleskuThe Gazetteer for Scotland (University of Edinburgh and The Royal Scottish Geographical Society)