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Link to Balvaig Cottage B&B near Ardgay in Sutherland
Bonar Bridge from the South
Bonar Bridge from the South

Called just "Bonar" until the completion of the first bridge across the Kyle of Sutherland in November 1812, Bonar Bridge was for the next 170 years a waystation on the main route north from Inverness to Caithness.

Creich Parish Church
Creich Parish Church
The Dunroamin Hotel
The Dunroamin Hotel
Carnegie Free Library
Carnegie Free Library
Lairg Road
Lairg Road

The 1812 bridge, built by Thomas Telford (like so much else in the Highlands) was the first of three on this site. The original was destroyed in a flood in 1892 and rebuilt in 1893. The current elegant structure was opened on the 14th December 1973. An extremely interesting series of stone and metal plaques placed around a triangular cairn at the village end of the span chart the building of these bridges.

Ironically enough, it was the building of another bridge in the 1980s that removed Bonar Bridge from the main road network. The Dornoch Firth Bridge was built much nearer the sea and cut well over 20 miles off the route of the A9 up the east coast.

Story of Earlier Bridges
Story of Earlier Bridges
The Bridge Hotel
The Bridge Hotel
Stone Display in Parking Area
Stone Display in Parking Area

This has left Bonar Bridge a much quieter place than it was. But it remains an important local centre with all the services and facilities a visitor might need. On the opposite side of the Kyle of Sutherland from Bonar Bridge is Ardgay, complete with a railway station on the Inverness to Thurso line.

The recorded history of Bonar dates back to at least the 1300s, when an iron foundry was established here to make use of iron ore dragged across country from the west coast. The foundry was fuelled with wood from the then plentiful forests on the north eastern side of the Kyle of Sutherland. By the time James IV passed this way during one of his many pilgrimages to the Chapel of St Duthac at Tain, in the years around 1500, deforestation was gathering speed. He decreed the cleared land should be replanted with oak trees, some of which still exist east of Bonar Bridge.

Other notable moments in local history include a disaster involving the ferry that preceded the bridge in 1809, with many lives lost. And in the mid 1800s the area was badly affected by some of the most brutal of the clearances as landowners simply forced people off the land to make way for more profitable sheep.

Ten miles due west from Bonar Bridge up a very minor road lies Croick. The churchyard of Croick Church was temporary home to 80 refugees cleared off their land in May 1845.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Bonar Bridge, or more accurately Ardgay opposite it, forms one end of a 33 mile walk crossing Scotland from coast to coast. This ends at Inverlael, at the head of Loch Broom south of Ullapool.

Bonar Bridge War Memorial and the Kyle of Sutherland
Bonar Bridge War Memorial and the Kyle of Sutherland
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