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Glenelg Bay
Glenelg Bay

Glenelg is a scattered and largely white-painted settlement that wraps itself around Glenelg Bay with views west across the Kyle Rhea to the mountains of eastern Skye.

The Glenelg Inn
The Glenelg Inn
War Memorial
War Memorial
The Glenelg Shop
The Glenelg Shop

Glenelg had long been the main gateway to Skye until the road from Inverness reached Kyle of Lochalsh in early 1819. Today this link is carried on through the operation of the seasonal Glenelg Ferry. This carries a few cars at a time across the narrows to Kylerhea, from where an interesting road leads to Broadford.

Bernera Barracks
Bernera Barracks
The Barrack Square
The Barrack Square
Barracks from the North
Barracks from the North

The ferry provides one route into Glenelg. The other starts at the head of Loch Duich, at Shiel Bridge, where a minor road branches off the A87 and makes its way across the Mam Ratagan Pass at a height of 1100ft before dropping down the side of Glen More into Glenelg.

Glenelg itself offers the visitor a range of services. The Glenelg Inn has high quality food, drink and accommodation, while at the other end of the scale there is an informal campsite overlooking the shingle beach by the road leading to the ferry. The main village has a shop and post office.

Just to the north of Glenelg is a graphic demonstration of the strategic importance of its link to Skye in earlier days. In the aftermath of the 1715 Jacobite uprising the Government built barracks at four locations across the Highlands, with the best known at Ruthven. Bernera Barracks, completed in 1723 at Glenelg is very similar to Ruthven, designed to provide defence against light attack and a secure base from which troops could patrol the surrounding area.

Bernera Barracks today is suprisingly complete. But although the main structure is clearly strong enough to support the trees that grow within it and from the tops of its walls, anyone wanting to take a really close look is running a high risk of having something large and solid drop on their head.

The barracks can be viewed at reasonably close quarters, but are fenced off to prevent access, presumably for obvious safety reasons. It is a shame that Bernera Barracks cannot be consolidated and made safe in the same way as Ruthven: the result would be both fascinating and a real asset to the area.

Bernera Barracks has a direct link with Glenelg's other main historical attractions. These are the three brochs that lie inland along Gleann Beag. The largest of these is Dun Telve or the Lower Broch, the best preserved broch in mainland Scotland, with an external wall that still stands 10m in height. Nearby is Dun Troddan or the Upper Broch.

This is less complete than Dun Telve, and it is thought that stone taken from it was used in the construction of Bernera Barracks. Nonetheless, one part of its main wall still stands over 7m high. Two miles further east along Gleann Beag is Dun Grugaig, much less well preserved than the other two.

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