The original bridge across the River Etive at Kingshouse was built as part of the Military Road built by Major Caulfeild in c1752. Its replacement, more correctly known as the Etive Bridge, was constructed in 1932 when the new A82 highway across Rannoch Moor was built.
The Old Bridge
A very simple single arch stone bridge, it is quite remarkable the difference in size of the River Etive at the Kingshouse Hotel compared to where the new A82 crosses it just half a mile away. It is probably for this very reason that this particular site was chosen, to minimise the span. Major Caulfeild was renowned for his desire to avoid bridges whenever possible. The many mountain streams that trickled across his route were mostly forded, and he took the road far up the hillside to find a point where it was possible. The only real bridges he is known to have built on Rannoch Moor are the one here at Kinshouse, the one at Bridge of Orchy (see A8005) and the one between them at Ba Bridge, which seems to have been rebuilt by Thomas Telford.
The New Bridge
Lying nearly half a mile to the west of Kingshouse, the new bridge allowed the road to take a straighter route across the moor, crossing the river further downstream. The bridge was designed by the engineers James McGregor, Lewis Sutherland and WH Hunt, and is one of a pair, the other crossing the Water of Tulla near Achallader.
The bridge has a massive bowed concrete Truss, making it a major landmark on the bleak moor. The deck is suspended with 8 vertical members, each connecting to a stiffening cross beam under the deck.
This bridge has, in the past, been attributed to Owen Williams. However, this link now seems doubtful and it is now generally accepted that Owen Williams was not involved in the construction of this bridge.
The Hotel at Kingshouse is reputed to be the oldest Inn in Scotland. The present building probably owes its existence, if not its walls, to Major Caulfeild, as it was the site of a barracks built on the moor. However, it would appear there was already some sort of Inn near here, as it is recorded as having been used by soldiers after the Battle of Culloden. With the new road, the Inn quickly developed for weary travellers as the barracks became surplus. It was originally owned by Lord Breadalbane, the local Laird, and generally seems to have been run by ex soldiers.
In the early twentieth century, it was the closest Public House for the navvies on the Blackwater Aluminium/Hydro Electric Scheme being developed above Kinlochleven. There are several tales of rather jolly navvies making their way back over the Devils Staircase after a heavy night drinking. Sadly, some didn't make it. At least one body was plucked from the thawing snow some time later.