Bealach na Bà
A strong double espresso was the team drink of choice on the morning we set off from Bealach Café, a regular stopping point for drivers touring Scotland’s greatest driving roads including the North Coast 500. We’d been driving for a few days now and the weather hadn’t been particularly welcome so far! However, the forecast for the day ahead was promising and after it has dried out, it was decided we’d tackle the Bealach na Bà or Applecross Pass. A wild and challenging road, originally built in 1822 as a route for moving cattle, little has changed other than a basic asphalt surface added in 1950. The Applecross peninsula forms part of the Wester Ross region of the Scottish Highlands which is known for its stunning landscapes. The road itself winds its way relentlessly via hairpin bends, twists and turns and extremely narrow sections with very few passing places and up the UK’s steepest road ascent to a height of 626 metres above sea level - the third highest road in Scotland.
Showing many of the characteristics traditionally associated with the spectacular mountain passes found on the continent this road is not for the novice driver or those who lack experience. This route is single track and exceptionally narrow with little margin for error. There aren’t many passing places either. In winter the road is regularly blocked so check before setting out.
Despite the dangers involved, the rewards are more than worth the effort. Beyond the driving, the scenery is breathtaking and the chance to escape into Scotland’s true wilderness is hard to resist. Ensure you take on fuel (preferably caffeinated!) at the Bealach Café, stop at the Bealach na Ba viewpoint for far reaching vistas across much of Wester Ross, the Isle of Skye and the Islands of Rum and Outer Hebrides. Ending the drive at the delightful Applecross Inn, there’s a chance to reflect on the day’s accomplishments over a wide range of home-cooked food. Take the opportunity to rest up here overnight!