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Kyleakin (Caol Acain)/United Kingdom

Introducing Kyleakin (Caol Acain)

Poor wee Kyleakin had the carpet pulled from under it when the Skye Bridge opened – it went from being the gateway to the island to a backwater bypassed by the main road. It’s now a pleasant, peaceful little place, with a harbour used by yachts and fishing boats.

The community-run Bright Water Visitor Centre serves as a base for tours of Eilean Ban – the island used as a stepping stone by the Skye Bridge – where Gavin Maxwell (author of Ring of Bright Water) spent the last 18 months of his life in 1968–69, living in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage. The island is now a nature reserve and tours (£7 per person) are available in summer (must be booked in advance). The visitor centre also houses a child-friendly exhibition on Maxwell, the lighthouse and the island’s wildlife. Tour times were uncertain at the time of research – best call ahead to check.

There are two hostels and a couple of B&Bs in the village. The friendly Skye Backpackers is our favourite, with even cheaper beds (£13) in caravans out back.

About 3 miles southwest of Kyleakin, a minor road leads southwards to Kylerhea, where there’s a 1½-hour nature trail to a shorefront otter hide, where you stand a good chance of seeing these elusive creatures. A little further on is the jetty for the car ferry to Glenelg on the mainland.

A shuttle bus runs half-hourly between Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin (five minutes), and there are eight to 10 buses daily (except Sunday) to Broadford and Portree.