Kyleakin

Perthshire

Is the first village visible on the Isle of Skye. It used to be the port for the ferry that linked Skye to the mainland. Since the opening of the Skye Bridge it has become a tourist destination in its own right with several hotels pubs and youth hostels opening in recent years.

The name Kyleakin is a combination of Scots and Norse words, the Kyle coming from Gaelic and means the “stretch of water between land” and the akin being a corruption of the Norse Haakon and which refers to King Haakon, the 4th of Norway who had a fleet of viking long ships anchored in the sound during the 13th century, on his way to meeting the Scottish army at the battle of Largs in 1263.

So the name, Kyleakin, simply means King Haakon’s stetch of water in memory of this event.

Castle Maol

The small ruined castle that we will see as we cross the Skye bridge is called Castle Maol. It was recognised as the seat of power of the Clan Mackinnon and it allowed them to control the boat traffic sailing through the narrow sound between the mainland and the Isle of Skye. The current building dates from the 15th century, but it had held a place of significance for much longer than that.

According to local legend there was an earlier castle built upon that site, with a great chain stretched from the Isle of Skye to the mainland. This allowed the Mackinnons to create an early toll system charging boats money to sail into the calm waters of Loch Alsh and Loch Duibh. It was said that the 4th Mackinnon Chief had married a Norse princess who was fond of revealing herself to sailors who had given a tip along with the toll. She is remembered fondly as “Saucy Mary” and the local pub takes its name from her to this day.