Harbour past and present
The stories of Kyle Harbour and the Kyle Line Railway are inextricably linked.
As you step outside the museum you are stepping on to the Railway Pier. The pier was constructed as a terminus to the Kyle Line extension which opened in 1897. The station, goods yard, sidings and engine sheds were all blasted out of solid rock.
The platform was built right out into the water so that goods and passengers could be transferred quickly from ferries to trains. The station pier was a hive of activity in the first part of the 20th century with regular ferries to Skye and the Outer Isles.
The station pier in the 1920s
The herring fishing season was a particularly busy time. Special fish trains would transport the perishable cargo either in barrels or cured. A number of fish curing buildings were in operation around the pier at the start of the 20th century.
Livestock transport was important too. At the end of the Railway Pier, look out for the mysterious cobbled ramp leading down to the water. This is the old ‘cattle creep’ which allowed animals to be landed directly from the steamers for onward shipment by train. It is cobbled to enable the cattle, horses and sheep to move without slipping.
The Harbour today
The West Coast herring fishing industry declined through the 20th century, but Kyle is still a busy working harbour. Prawns, lobster and crabs are now the main catch for local fishing boats. You’ll see their creels sitting on the harbourside behind the museum, and if you’re lucky might spot them unloading a catch. The harbour is also extensively used by fish farm vessels, transporting feed or live salmon to west coast farms.
Kyle’s busy deep water port also hosts a variety of cargo vessels. You will often see timber stacked high on the pier, and in winter, salt and grit for the roads is delivered here. Kyle’s picturesque setting also makes it a popular stop off for small and medium cruise ships.
Kyle Harbour from the station pier today
Visit Scotland / Paul Tomkins
View of the pontoon with Skye Bridge in the background.
The slipways that were once used by the Skye Ferry now host a Pontoon Marina operated by Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust. They are also excellent launching facilities for other leisure craft. To find out what goes on under water why not take a trip on Kyle’s glass-bottomed boat, the Sea Probe Atlantis.
Everyone involved in the sea owes a debt of gratitude to the lifeboat volunteers who risk their lives to save the lives of others. So while you’re walking around the harbour don’t miss Kyle of Lochalsh Lifeboat Station and RNLI shop.
As you explore, be aware that this is a working harbour and please keep children supervised at all times. Harbour access will depend on the activities taking place so heed any warning signs.
Find out how to contact Kyle Harbour Master.
Find out more about the history of the railway and Skye crossing in our Timeline.
Discover Kyle and the Great Highland Railway Journey