Bealach Na Ba, one of the best roads of Scotland

Bealach na Ba road in Scotland
Bealach Na Ba road

Do you know about one of the greatest climbs in the UK? Well, we have a great road trip plan for you. Driving or cycling on this road can be a breathtaking experience and a great adventure. Let’s delve into the specifics of the Applecross Bealach Na Ba, a historic road known for its breathtaking views and challenging twists and turns. Before hitting the road, remember that the name of this road is pronounced as Bee-al-uch nu Ba(h) and that in English it’s named “Pass of the Cattle”. This road can be driven while you’re on the North Coast 500. You can also push all the way to Quiraing Pass.

Where is Bealach na Bà road located?

This road is located in Wester Rose in the Scottish Highlands and passes through the mountains of the Applecross Peninsula. Bealach na Ba, built-in 1822, is the highest point of the Applecross pass.

The best part?

The distance of this road is approximately 18 kilometers (11.5 miles) with an average gradient of 7%. At its maximum height, it reaches 626 meters (2055 ft) above sea level. Some gradients are rounding up to 20%!

Applecross way was highly used during the 20th century, as it was the only road that linked Applecross with the rest of the country at that time.

You can situate the road on the map below:

Enlarge the map

Some information about the Bealach na Bà road

Road description:

It’s important to drive carefully on the Applecross Bealach Na Ba road. Only experts can enjoy the stunning scenery that surrounds the road while driving or cycling. If you are a novice cyclist or driver, it is imperative to keep your attention completely on the road.

Riding on this road can be difficult for you sometimes because it is a non-common single track route where you have to pay attention to the road but also to the traffic. As it is very tight, two cars might have a hard time crossing each other, that is why you have to be careful and when a car is coming in front of you, pull over into a passing place, there are many along the road.

Some other facts about the Pass of the Cattle:

  • Ginger Wildheart sang the song “The Road to Applecross” which was a featured bonus track of his album. So the Applecross is named after this memory of his song.
  • It is not allowed to speed more than 50 km/h (30 mph) and you must know how to reverse to let pass upcoming cars on this road.
  • It is the third-highest road in Scotland: it is more than 625 meters (2,054 ft) above sea level.
  • Cycle Sportive events have been arranged in the surrounding areas of this road. The 144 kilometers (89.5 miles) Bealach More event occurs in September, while the 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) Bealach Beag event is in May.

History of the Applecross

The Applecross Bealach Na Ba road has a lengthy, illustrious past that dates to ancient times. It is thought that the road, also called the Pass of the Cattle, was used by the early Celts to cross the mountains separating Applecross from the rest of Scotland. The Applecross Bealach Na Ba road was built in 1822, with the engineers using roads in the Alps as an example. The name “Bealach Na Ba” means “Pass of the Cattle” in Gaelic. This name is thought to have come from the fact that drovers used the road to transport their cattle across the pass to markets.

How to get to the Bealach na Ba road ?

In order to get the Bealach na Bà road you have to go to the town of Tornapress on the A896 road and then turn to road C1087 in the Applecross direction.

You can visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:

A preview of the Bealach na Bà drive:

If you don’t have the possibility to go to Scotland, or you just want to watch a cool road video, just take a look at this YouTube video:

Is the Applecross Open?

The road is open all year round. Although, we suggest you never use this road during winter, especially in bad weather. Learner drivers can face a lot of hurdles while moving on this road. Large vehicles are highly unsuitable. Sharp bends and steep gradients make it a difficult road. So it has a fearsome reputation.

bealach na ba
Bealach na Ba in winter

Also, we advise you to use this road in the daylight. If you plan to use the road at night, we suggest that you bring all the necessary equipment (such as flashlights, as well as warm clothing and other supplies) with you to be prepared for the potential challenges of darkness and cold winds. You might experience problems and become stranded on the road if you don’t make adequate preparations.

This road is very narrow, so you will not find hotels or other shops on your way before reaching Applecross. So, you have to bring everything you might need with you.

In any case, check the official website of the road traffic provided by the Scottish Government before driving in the Highlands.

If you are planning a road trip in Scotland, you should definitely don’t forget to include the Bealach Na Ba Road in your trip. Indeed, this is one of the most known and amazing drives in Scotland. But don’t forget to drive safely because it is still considered as a dangerous road.

Pictures sources: Daniel Coates

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