Wednesday, 26 August 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: BEALACH NA BA (NC500) . . .



Before I even knew about the North Coast 500, I'd watched an episode of Weir's Way with David Hayman which was set in Applecross. I'd never heard of the place before, despite the fact it's actually a full peninsula in Scotland, but I immediately wanted to visit.  I wanted to stay in the Applecross Inn (sadly I am not organised enough or forward-planning enough to actually make that one happen - maybe next time) and the boyfriend really wanted to drive the Bealach na Bà road, one of the highest roads in the UK. Winding amongst the mountains, it rises over 2000 feet above sea level at its tallest point, and features steep gradients and sharp bends.



And I was terrified. I don't particularly like heights. I was told by other people who had went over the road that I should be terrified. And people on trip advisor who claimed to have been hanging on to the edge of their seats the whole time (thankfully passengers. And how is clinging on to the edge of their seats going to help them anyway?).


However, I do like pretty scenery, and the fella is an excellent driver, so despite my fears (and the fact we had almost been squished into a wall by a speeding lorry at Loch Lomond on the drive up to Northern Scotland the day before, which hadn't helped my nerves much), and the scary sign at the start of the road, I actually kind of enjoyed it in the end.

Of course, getting to stop and pop out for some pictures and the odd poser moment also helped with matters. ..


Starting to climb . . .
 Applecross used to only be accessible via boat, once upon a time. Then this road was built, the only other option for access. Nowadays you can go via an alternative coast road - so at least you have other choices if you really can't stomach the thought of the mountain pass. 


The road is single-track with passing places... definitely not ideal for larger vehicles or drivers of a nervous disposition...





But check out these views and the road winding back behind us . . .


And once you get to near the top, the view starts to get even better!
 Once you climb higher, there is a viewpoint you can park at - just in case you missed out on the scenery due to driving. And the islands, Skye among others, stretch out in front of you to the west... it was pretty enough with a bit of cloud and mist; what would it look like on a clear day!?!



This guide at the viewpoint shows you what you're looking at... if you can see the view! ;-)


We may not have been staying there (our next stay was to be in Ullapool later that day), but we decided to have a drink at the Applecross Inn to celebrate surviving the Bealach na Bà... and then the sun came out, as if to welcome us to Applecross!It would have been rude not to, frankly.



The Applecross Inn
Cheers!
 
If you're planning on doing the North Coast 500 route, I would definitely recommend going via the Bealach na Bà - at least once! I have a feeling it won't be the last time I am on this road though, if the boyfriend has anything to do with it. It's okay though... I loved it too. And so might you!

Have you been on it? Would you go on it? And would you dare to be the driver?

2 comments:

  1. Just discovered your Scotland series!!I have been driven along the balach a few times now and even eaten at Applecross Inn. The scenery is just beautiful!My FILlives in loch carron so have been witness to some beautiful views.

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  2. Oh wow, Sophie, that's amazing - sounds like you have seen more of it than I have! I definitely need to go back up that way sometime soon. :-)

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