Dornie is City/Area of Highlands, Latitude: 57.276, Longitude: -5.51411

The Dornie Hotel   "Blink and you'll miss it.

The Dornie Hotel
“Blink and you’ll miss it…” A common expression, and one that is especially apt for Dornie. This charming village stands some eight miles east of Kyle of Lochalsh at the meeting point of Loch Duich to the south east, Loch Alsh to the West, and Loch Long to the north east. Dornie stretches for over half a mile along the east shore of Loch Long, and offers a range of services to residents and visitors: but we wonder how many travellers are actually aware of it.

Motorists driving north west along the A87 as it follows the shore of Loch Duich will certainly be aware of the magnificent Eilean Donan Castle. Many will visit, and many of those who don’t will stop for at least as long as it takes to point a camera and press the shutter release. Eilean Donan must be one of Scotland’s most photographed castles, and with extremely good reason.

Having passed the castle, the A87 carries on without pause over a low bridge that crosses the mouth of Loch Long before traversing the small scattered settlement of Ardelve on its western side. Most travellers will be barely aware of a junction on the right, just after the castle and before the bridge, with a minor road that leads you into the village itself. This is a turn well worth making. (Continues below image…)

The Village and the Shore of Loch Long
At the heart of the village is the Dornie Hotel, while nearby is The Clachan, whose roof carries the word “PUB” painted in very large letters. It’s tempting at this point to make a helicopter joke, but we suspect that the origins of the sign are much older, perhaps dating back to the time before a bridge was first built across Loch Long in 1940.

Until that time anyone travelling overland to Kyle of Lochalsh had to make a short ferry crossing over Loch Long. There was also for many years a ferry operating between Dornie and Totaig, on the south shore of Loch Duich. This appears to have ceased in the early 1900s.

As well as a hotel and a pub, Dornie offers a shop and post office, a gallery, and a number of accommodation providers of various kinds. At the end nearest the A87 road bridge is a vestigial harbour, together with a nice little park/picnic area. Much of the village is set back a little from the shore of Loch Long itself, providing room for car (and boat) parking.

Dornie’s origins are unclear. Until the early 1800s the main overland route to the Isle of Skye took off south west from the head of Loch Duich and the foot of Glen Shiel, taking travellers to Glenelg and the short crossing of the Kyle Rhea to Skye itself. This changed when Thomas Telford completed his Kintail Road in the early 1820s.

As we’ve already noted, it was still necessary to use a ferry to progress west from Dornie until 1940. The bridge that made the ferry redundant was a single track concrete structure that crossed the loch from the centre of the village. It was replaced in 1990 by the bridge that motorists use (and barely notice) today, as part of major improvements made to the whole length of the A87. No obvious trace remains of the old bridge, which we must have used on a number of occasions, albeit (sadly) without taking photographs or, apparently, committing any record of it to memory.

What this means in practice is that since 1990, Dornie itself has been without the through traffic that previously crossed the bridge. This must have made things difficult for local businesses for a while. Today it means that this lovely little backwater is ideally placed as a rest, refreshment and perhaps accommodation stop, only a few yards (and a few decades) away from the A87.

The View Across Loch Long

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