on October 3, 2012
Until the beginning of the 19th century Kyle of Lochalsh was hardly more than an inn and a few cottages, although its ferry crossing to Skye had already overtaken the in Glenelg in popularity and importance. Things changed in a big way with a coming of a regular steamer service – most transportation and traffic in the area was still by sea – and building of Parliament Roads (a road east towards Kintail was built in the early 1810s), an took another turn towards modernity when the railway from Inverness, having first reached Storme Ferry in the 1870s, was extended to Kyle in 1897. The population grew and so did the facilities available in the village which remained the most important ferry launching point to the Isle of Skye for the next hindered years. It wasn't until the 1995 though, that the Skye Bridge was constructed, and the early years of this famous structure were mired in controversy. It was erected during the last years of the 1980/1990s Thatcherite Tory government, as one of the first Public-Private Finance projects and consequently became a toll bridge with a very high charge. By 2004 a return trip cost over £11, much more expensive than any other toll bridge in the UK and in fact more expensive per mile travelled than any other piece of a toll road in the world. The tolls were extremely unpopular among the locals and eventually were removed following the prolonged protests and a non-payment campaign, one of the acts of the devolved Scottish government. And thus now the Skye bridge is open and free to use by anybody, a modest but still visually successful construction that brings the Misty Isle in easy reach of visitors and allows the locals movement between the island and the mainland without encumbrance and undue cost. The bridge's construction and the abolition of tolls has certainly contributed to the development and increase of population the Sleat area of southern Skye, as well as linking communities in the Lochalsh region and the southern Skye as far as Broadford, all now within half-hour's drive from Kyle. From the visitors' point of view, the bridge means that staying on the mainland is a realistic alternative to staying in the near (southern) areas of Skye regardless of where you want to concentrate your sightseeing,as it takes a couple of minutes to drive across. From the engineering point of view, the bridge is a single-span concrete arch, supported by two piers and using Eilean Bàn as a stepping-stone. It closes the narrows at Kyle, but looking at the old pictures before the bridge, it certainly doesn't spoil the landscape and arguably maybe even makes the vista more interesting. And the view FROM the bridge is easily among the best in the area, the clear path for the eye east towards the mass of mountains of Kintail and beyond, and to the north towards Wester Ross with Applecross and Torridon blue and purple on the horizon. The islet of Eilean Ban, with its Stevenson lighthouse and a cottage that used to belong to the otter-writer Gavin Maxwell known for the ''Ring of Bright Water'' is easily accessible from the bridge too.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009