Coastal Route To Applecross
Our arrival in Applecross was via the coastal route, a single track road that twists and winds it's way above the coast, from just south of Shieldaig, along the southern shore of Loch Torridon and then round the headland into the Inner Sound.
On a clear day, there are superb views down to Shieldaig and particularly from the viewpoint on the western side of the peninsula out to the islands of Rona and Rasaay with Skye peeping through behind. We were very fortunate with the weather and had brilliant views.
Parts of the road are steep and it's all single track, as far as I can remember but there are plenty of passing places. People actually tow caravans on this road to the campsite at Applecross but we found parts of it it tricky enough in a motorhome!!
It's hard to believe that until 1970, the only road to Applecross was the Bealach na Ba Pass. Many small communities on the coast were isolated and only accessible by boat. Gradually, the population declined as folks moved away and by the time the coast road was begun in 1970 it was too late. People had left and houses fell into ruins. The compete circuit from Shieldaig to Applecross was not finally completed until 1975. Amazing. What an engineering job this and the Pass must have been!!!
There are a couple of larger parking places by a huge sandy beach (close to a naval base) and one just before you descend to the beach at Applecross.
- Road Trip
Bealach na Ba (2)
It's such a shame that we couldn't see anything of the fantastic views because of low cloud. They are supposed to be breath-taking. Going down the other side, the steeper side, Nick had to have two bites at one of the hairpins to get round the corner, mmmm, wouldn't have liked that on the way up!!!
I would say there is absolutely no problems taking a car over this route, on a good day you can see traffic from afar and there are plenty of passing places. Think twice about ascending with a large motorhome over the steeper side. Even on such a wild and dreary day, when visibility was not good, plenty of people were using this route. In fact, the day before, Nick had seen from where we were camping, a breakdown truck towing a VW camper over. Don't know how it got round some of the hairpins!!!!
As you can see, no pictures of the road!!!!
- Road Trip
Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle.) (1)
I really didn't want to take this route, being in a 24 feet long motorhome. It is the highest pass in Great Britain, reaching 2053 feet above sea level at it's peak and consists of a single track road with some wicked hairpin bends.
The morning of our leaving Applecross was very breezy so Nick decided it would be less windy on the inland route, the Pass, rather than take the exposed coastal route. "Do you think that wise, visibility is already limited?" says I. "No problem," says he. OK, all seemed well when we set off, we could see and we were following another motorhome, so I felt we weren't the only silly beggars! Soon, the gradients became considerably worse and down came the cloud. We couldn't see a thing. Just as I was thinking this was a daft idea, a large lorry headed downhill towards us. As we pulled into a passing place, the van began hissing and filling up with steam. "We're boiling" shouts Nick. Oh, clever boy. At least the kind-hearted local lorry driver backed up to see if we were ok and told us we still had a mile to go to the summit and that there was plenty of water gushing down the hillside close by.
The whole event took on an unreal feeling; - we couldn't see outside the van and we couldn't see in it. To cut a long story short, the heater had blown a gasket and my very clever husband managed to disable it and patch things up. We proceeded up to the top with our breath held and our fingers crossed. We made it. Not only that, a couple of days later, we went on to travel over the Rattagan Pass with no problems.
See Bealach na Ba (2)
- Road Trip
Na Ba Pass
To get to Applecross, you can go the long way around the northern side of the peninsula, or you can take the Na Ba Pass. This goes right across the mountains in the center of the peninsula, and gives some fairly spectacular views of the massive rock formations and high passes. This drive is not for the faint-hearted, though--the winding, steep cliffs can be a little nerve-racking. Those little white specks at the bottom of the picture are cars.