The NC500 (North Coast 500) is a devastatingly scenic drive featuring natural attraction after natural attraction. But, every so often, something a little different pops up. And, in this case, it’s the wonderful, sweeping curved structure of Kylesku Bridge. Located in Kylestrome and passed along during the famous Scottish road trip, it’s become quite a popular attraction. Viewing Kylesku Bridge has been made pretty straightforward with the additional construction of two viewing car parks and even a hotel. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting one of the best bridges in Scotland.
To see footage of the wider NC500 road trip, feel free to watch our NC500 Hikes production. The opener of the production shows the fabulous drive across Kylesku Bridge, Scotland.
Table of Contents
About Kylesku Bridge
Kylesku Bridge, known officially now as the Gaelic ‘Drochaid a’ Chaolais Chumhaing’ is a beautiful curved bridge in the Scottish Highlands, often crossed as part of the NC500 road trip. Kylesku Bridge was designed to sympathetically blend into the beautiful Scottish Highlands it sits within. And, it does just that. Even the north and south entrances to the bridge were carefully chosen in order to reduce the impact on the surrounding land. And now today, Kylesku Bridge is quite the attraction in its own right in a landscape of some pretty exceptional sights.
FYI, the correct pronunciation of Kylesku is ”kai-leh-skyoo”.
When Was Kylesku Bridge Built?
Construction of Kylesku Bridge first began in August 1982 and was completed and opened to traffic by July 1984. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened Kylesku Bridge in August 1984. It cost £4 million to build.
Where Is Kylesku Bridge?
Kylesku Bridge sits in the Sutherland region of the northwest Highlands of Scotland. The bridge crosses Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin, replacing the old Kylesku Ferry, which linked Kylestrome to Kylesku. Because of its location, Kylesku Bridge is passed over by thousands of visitors each year on the A894 road of the NC500. So, to make viewing this incredible structure nice and easy, you’ll find two car parks and viewpoints to pull into to enjoy the splendid Kylesku Bridge.
Feel free to click on the interactive Google Map below to check out the location of Kylesku Bridge.
Kylesku Bridge Viewpoint Parking
At either the end of Kylesku Bridge is a car park. Depending on whether you’re driving the NC500 in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, you’ll either arrive via Kylesku or Kylestrome. Below, we’ll describe the views from both Kylesku Bridge car parks. But, to be honest, we recommend pulling in at both.
Kylesku Bridge North Car Park
The Kylesku Bridge North Car Park lies a little south of Kylestrome and has possibly better views of the whole bridge. It sits at a slightly higher elevation than the south car park, and the views of the wider area are quite exceptional, especially those across the loch and towards Quinag. There are a couple of unofficial trails that descend over the lip of the car park, leading down to the loch edge. You know, just to try and find the best views. The north car park also has a plaque to commemorate the opening of the bridge by the Queen.
There’s often a food truck parked at the north car park too, so you can enjoy a bite to eat whilst you enjoy the views. Also, from the experience we had, we found the north car park, on the Kylestrome side, to be the busier of the two.
Kylesku Bridge South Car Park
The Kylesku Bridge South Car Park lies at a lower elevation and provides awesome views of underneath the bridge. It also gives a better perspective of the size of Kylesku Bridge. The south car park is also where you’ll find public toilets for your convenience.
Photographing Kylesku Bridge
Dan and I were lucky to have our drone with us, which really helped capture some awesome aerial photos of Kylesku Bridge and the surrounding Highland wilderness to its fullest. But, we also made good use of the camera too.
To capture the whole of Kylesku Bridge with a camera, many people choose to climb the small hill behind the north car park to gain some elevation. You’ll see faint trails to follow in the footsteps of others. Basically, it’s fairly easy to explore and hunt out your perfect shot, just be mindful that this is a road, and not all traffic will be slowing to pull into the car parks.
Accommodation Close to Kylesku Bridge
Although Kylesku Bridge is pretty remote, there are a few options when it comes to accommodation and where to stay. Let’s take a look.
Kylesku Bridge Hotel
The Kylesku Hotel in Scotland is the best hotel option in terms of proximity to Kylesku Bridge. The hotel is located a little further down the minor road that the Kylesku Bridge South Car Park is on. The views from Kylesku Hotel are really something, overlooking Loch Glencoul and Loch Gleann Dubh. Although there aren’t direct views of Kylesku Bridge from the hotel, it’s only a short walk to reach the south car park.
In addition to a wonderful night’s accommodation, Kylesku Hotel also offers boat tours on Loch Glencoul and Loch Gleann Dubh. Typically lasting just over an hour, they leave four times a day from 10:30am, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm (commencing in April). The boat tour gives visitors the chance to see some pretty incredible wildlife such as seals, razorbills, cormorants, puffins, sea eagles, and golden eagles. Also, the Kylesku Boat Tour travels to one of the best viewpoints of Britain’s highest waterfall – Eas a’ Chual Aluinn. Warm clothing is advised, whatever time of year you go. For inquiries, click here.
On the opposite side of the road to the Kylesku Bridge South Car Park is the Kylesku Lodge. The selection of little triangular wooden huts, shaped like mini mountains, all enjoy pristine views of Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin and surrounding views of Highland peaks. In fact, you’ll spy Quinag on a clear day, which is a wonderful hike in the Kylesku and Kylestrome vicinity.
The huts sleep 2–3 people and a number of them are pet-friendly. Each lodge comes with a small and basic kitchen too. Just like Kylesku Bridge, the lodge huts sit sympathetically in their natural surroundings, with this Scottish wilderness always a favourite spot to spend the night along the NC500.
Kylesku Bridge Wild Camping
It’s possible to wild camp at Kylesku Bridge. Stopping in at both car parks is permitted, and is very straightforward for those with a camper or caravan. Tent pitches can be made, although a little less straightforward. You’ll likely have to hunt a bit for a good spot.
As always, campers need to follow a standard set of guidelines. These rules revolve around respecting the countryside and ultimately staying safe. Tents should also be out of view from the roadside, where possible.
There aren’t a huge amount of official campsites close to Kylesku Bridge. Dan and I stayed at Ardmair Point Holiday Park near Ullapool and can highly recommend it for those wanting a hot shower and electricity. Our tent pitch was great and the facilities top notch. Ardmair Point is around a 40 minute drive away and there’s plenty to stop off at en route. See the following section on ‘Other Things to Do in the Kylestrome Area’.
For a spot of glamping, you can’t go far wrong with a stay at West Coast Hideaways. Units come with a hot tub, so a stay here would be perfect in summer and winter.
Other Things to Do in the Kylestrome Area
- Eas a Chual Aluinn: a hike to Britain’s highest waterfall has to be up there as one of the best things to do in the Kylestrome area. But, as previously mentioned, you can always take a Kylesku Boat Tour to see this huge cascade instead.
- Ardvreck Castle: one of the most beautiful historic castle ruins in Scotland is located on the banks of nearby Loch Assynt.
- Wailing Widow Falls: a little south of Kylesku Bridge is one of NC500’s most popular waterfalls. And it’s easy to see why.
- Quinag: the huge form of Quinag dominates the landscape in this part of Assynt and is easily seen from Kylesku Bridge. It’s certainly an incredible hike to three Corbetts and is a fantastic day hike along the NC500. In fact, views of Kylseku – one of the best bridges in Scotland, can be enjoyed from Quinag.
- The Bone Caves: a short circular hike to see The Bone Caves is one of the easiest and most history-filled hikes in the area.
Travel Insurance For the NC500
Whether you’re from the UK or further afield, travel insurance is a necessary evil, especially if taking on a road trip like the NC500.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to ensure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just a couple of weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.
Travel Essentials For Kylesku Bridge
These are our travel essentials for visiting Kylesku Bridge in Kylestrome – one of the best bridges in Scotland. Certainly, for a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip to Scotland and the North Coast 500, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Binoculars: for the abundant wildlife!
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket, because you know, this is still Scotland after all.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day trips, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm when the clouds roll in, which they do in Scotland.
- If you need a break: on the southern approach to Kylesku Bridge is the Rock Stop Café and Exhibition Centre. Dan and I stopped here for a quick drink and the views from the cafe are outstanding.
- Ancient broch: in Kylestrome, you’ll find an ancient Scottish broch.
- Other bridges in Scotland: Scotland has plenty of epic bridges, and one of the most popular is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, also known as the Harry Potter Bridge.
- If you don’t have your own vehicle to get you to Kylseku Bridge: of course, if you don’t have access to your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring something. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
- Tours and Activities of Scotland: certainly for some hassle-free tours of the Scottish Highlands GetYourGuide offers some pretty excellent tour options.
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