You often hear about the beauty of the Isle of Skye. It is true, but don't rush to get there! The main road to the island is as magnificent. Road A87 Scotland takes you along the tortuous Loch Cluanie and through the narrow Glen Shiel before reaching Loch Duich and the Skye Bridge. Below is my guide to the drive.
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Road A87 to Skye Bridge - Video
Let's start with a short video that will give you an idea of what driving on A87 looks like: first along the North Shore of Loch Cluanie an then through Glen Shiel. Discover at the end the Skye bridge that provide easy access to the Isle of Skye, considered one of the most beautiful islands in the World.
PLANNING TIPS - Driving Road A87 Scotland
How to get to the Isle of Skye
- The isle of Skye can be reached by ferry or by car - for more information about the ferry, check out my article with 20 things to do in Skye Island
- By road A87 you drive from A82 (main central road) to the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh
- Have a look at my eBooks to help you plan road Scotland road trip:
- A87 is a road with one lane in each direction. It is in good condition.
- From A82 to the Skye Bridge, it takes 1 hour (37mi) if you don't stop. The grand scenery starts at Bun Lyone
- The main towns are Shiel Bridge about in the middle and Kyle of Lochalsh near the bridge to the Isle of Skye
- One of the most famous stops is for the Five Sisters of Kintail in Glen Shiel
Accommodations along A87
Loch Cluanie Scotland
About Loch Cluanie
- Loch Cluanie is a freshwater loch created by a dam built in 1957 as part of an extensive hydroelectric project.
- Niched in the Highlands, several hikes on Munros are available in the area.
- On the West side, you can find the settlement of Cluanie with an Inn and 2 holiday homes
Road A87 and loch Cluanie - Photos
Even if you don't have time to explore the area, Road A87 follows the North Shore of the Loch and offers some beautiful views.
It takes you all the way to the historical Loch Cluanie Inn (check out photos and availability)
Below are some photos along the drive
The shores of Loch Cluanie are very tortuous with islets and white rock 'peninsulas'.
Driving between Loch Cluanie and Glen Shiel, Scotland
The River Shiel takes it source in mountains Est of Loch Cluanie. So Glen Shiel does not officially start right after Loch Cluanie.
This does not mean that the scenery is not interesting. On the contrary. It just keeps getting better and better. Wide at the beginning the glen gets narrower and the views more impressive.
Glen Shiel and the Five Sisters of Kintail
Driving through Glen Shiel
Glen Shiel is one of the best valleys to drive in Scotland. The road follows along River Shiel stuck between towering mountains.
The area is green and never boring. The peaks all have very different shapes and the canyon is like a snake displaying different layers of mountains.
Glen Shiel History
Glen Shiel is also famous for a battle which took place in 1719 during the Jacobite rebellion.
The most famous peaks in the area are Sgur Fhurean (Cold Peak - 3505ft - 1068m), The Saddle (3319ft - 1011m) and Sgur Na Sgine (3098ft - 944m).
Five Sisters of Kintail
One of the ridge is called the Five Sisters of Kintail. It is a series of peaks rising from 2729ft (832m) to 3505ft (1068m).
And the drive keeps delivering splendid views...
Loch Duich and Eilean Donan Castle
You leave Glen Shiel at the town of Shiel Bridge where Loch Duich starts. At its East end, you still have views of the famous Five Sisters of Kintail
Although it looks like an enclose loch, Loch Duich is actually a sea loch.
This Loch is mostly famous because at its head was build Eilean Donan Castle, on a small island where Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh meet.
Loch Alsh and Skye Bridge
The last leg of Road A87 to the Isle of Skye takes you along Loch Alsh and to the Skye Bridge.
Loch Alph is of course a sea loch that runs for 12km (7.5 miles). Several parkings are available to admire the scenery of enjoy a picnic (although it can get very windy).
Before the only way to get to the Isle of Skye and admire the beauties of Quiraing, the Cuillin Mountains and the Old Man of Storr was to take a ferry from Mallaig or from Kyle of Lochalsh (right next to where the bridge is now).
Built in 1992, the Skye Bridge now gives easy access to this beautiful island covering the 500 meters of straight (1640ft). It connects Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin.
Following many protests, the bridge is toll free.
And then you discover the beautiful Isle of Skye!
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Surely one of the best drive in Scotland, don't you think?
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