Bonar was the main fording point across the Kyle of Sutherland until 1812 when the first bridge was constructed and thereafter it was known as Bonar Bridge. The original bridge was destroyed in a flood in 1892 but rebuilt in 1893 and the current elegant bridge was opened in 1973.
A visit to the village will reveal a delightful array of local shops, cafes and restaurants surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Kyle of Sutherland. Outdoor-lovers will find walks and wildlife to their heart’s content and keen travellers will find the village perfectly situated to reach all corners of Sutherland within a short distance.
Our Heritage Map will help you discover sites to visit in and around Bonar Bridge and is available to download as an app so you can take your pocket-ready guide with you along the way.
As you look to plan your trip to Bonar Bridge, or if you are already here, we would encourage you to be a responsible visitor and respect our locals, landscape, history and wildlife for the benefit of all.
Bonar Bridge marks the point where the Dornoch Firth becomes the Kyle of Sutherland and there is incredible scenery to enjoy in the area as well as an abundant variety of wild and plant life. The tidal causeway of the Kyle itself stretches across nearly half of mainland Scotland making it quite unique in its landscape and habitat.
An interesting series of stone and metal plaques set around a triangular cairn by the bridge on the southern bank of the Kyle of Sutherland tells the story of the building of three bridges at Bonar Bridge.
The Kyle of Sutherland is a popular site for local wildlife and some of the species that can be readily spotted are Atlantic salmon, sea trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, buzzards, osprey, grey seals, oystercatchers and otters.
The Dornoch Firth forms the boundary between Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty and is a designated national scenic area. It plays host to significant populations of birds such as osprey, bar-tailed godwit, greylag goose, wigeon, curlew, dunlin, oystercatcher and teal.
The rivers Oykel, Cassley, Shin and Carron all feed into the Kyle of Sutherland above Bonar Bridge and are renowned salmon fishing rivers. Cassley has a set of beautiful falls and the Shin has an impressive set of falls that are well-known for salmon-jumping at the Falls of Shin.
Bonar Bridge & Ardgay Golf Club is a 9-hole woodland-style course overlooking Loch Migdale and it is generally considered one of the most beautiful in the Highlands.
Loch Migdale lies close to Bonar Bridge and has a lovely walk to it. Look out for the remains of the man-made island close to the western shore upon which a crannog used to sit in the Iron Age. Migdale was also the site of the Migdale Hoard find.
Bonar Bridge forms one end of a 33-mile walk across Scotland from coast to coast, with the other end being Inverlael at the head of Loch Broom, south of Ullapool.
Ardgay is a village just across the bridge on the south bank of the Kyle in the county of Ross and Cromarty.
Ledmore and Migdale Woods lie to the east of Bonar Bridge and have a variety of excellent walks through them, including one which takes in a viewpoint above the Dornoch Firth. They are also a site of recent reintroduction of red squirrels.
Spinningdale Mill is the ruined remains of an old cotton mill built in 1792-4 and gutted by fire in 1806. The ruin is picturesque but also dangerously unstable so caution should be taken.
Little Creich is a small settlement which has the remains of a chapel and graveyard. A standing stone faintly engraved with a celtic cross remains in a field next to the graveyard and local lore connects it with a battle in the 11th or 12th century between locals and Norsemen. This stone, called St Demhan's Cross, is part of the Pictish Trail from Inverness to Dunrobin Castle.
To the south of Creich lies Dun Criech, a small hill jutting out into the Dornoch Firth which gives both excellent views over the Firth and also plays host to the remains of a vitrified fort on its summit.
Skibo Castle sits east of Bonar Bridge and is a luxury site run by the exclusive members-only Carnegie Club. The Carnegie Links golf course has a limited number of public tee times available to non-members throughout the summer from May to October.
The Falls of Shin are a famous waterfall where there is a viewing platform to watch the salmon making their annual journey upriver as they leap impressively over the falls. There is also a visitor centre and café along with woodland walks to enjoy.
Carbisdale Castle was built for the the dowager Duchess of Sutherland in 1907 and has a fascinating story around its creation, provided a safe refuge for the King and Prince of Norway during World War II and served as a youth hostel from 1945 to 2011. It is not currently possible to visit the castle but there is a lovely walk which overlooks the castle and grounds as well as taking you by the site of the Battle of Carbisdale.
Croick Church is a church to the west of Bonar Bridge over the Kyle of Sutherland which has a poignant tale from the Highland Clearances when local residents were cleared from the land and set up a makeshift camp in the church grounds. These residents eventually left the area, like many others, in search of a better life.
Annual events in and around Bonar Bridge:
Gala Week (or Salmon Week) in August
East of Bonar Bridge is the area of Dornoch
South of Bonar Bridge is the town of Tain
West of Bonar Bridge is the village of Ardgay
Bonar Bridge lies just inland from the eastern coastal route of Sutherland and is a hub for transport routes across the region, making it the perfect spot to base yourself when you explore the area.
The main street in Bonar Bridge follows alongside the Kyle of Sutherland and has a variety of excellent local shops, cafes and restaurants. There is parking available in the town or just across the bridge so you can get out and take in all the scenery and sights on offer.
Bonar Bridge boasts an impressive array of eateries for a small village, including a café, takeaway, hotel restaurants and bistro. Most are located on or near the main street of the village and within walking distance of nearby accommodation and parking. It is best to book in advance to avoid disappointment. View our Restaurants and Bars listings for some ideas.
With so many options available in or around Bonar Bridge it won’t be hard to find an ideal spot to stay, relax and enjoy the area. Choose from local B&Bs, hotels, self-catering, glamping and more. Don’t forget to ask your accommodation provider for all their top tips to experience the area like a local. Search our listings for Accommodation ideas.
Local villages make for great local shopping, so be sure to explore Bonar Bridge and keep an eye out for those special gifts as well as the essentials. Have a great chat with shopkeepers while you’re out and about and see what they recommend, such as local produce, local crafts or local interest pieces. Dive in to our Local Shopping listings for some shopping ideas.