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Bealach Na Bà, NC500

Updated on August 30, 2020
MFPrincess profile image

Kally is an amalgamation of both my partner and myself, and we document all of our adventures no matter how big or small.

Planning to do the NC500 and wondering about the Applecross Pass (Bealach na Bà), seen the google pictures and heard some terrifying tales?

Well, I'm here to tell you, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF! Granted if you're a learner or inexperienced driver it can be daunting, but it is something you will feel so accomplished after completing it! I do note it's not for longer vehicles such as RVs too but I would also state really low high-end vehicles have been known to not particularly do well on the road either (see video for the poor Lambo on the back of the truck)

The road is stunning! There is a viewpoint at the peak, but the parking spots do fill up quite quickly so be mindful of others! I have written brief info about the road and included the hyperlapse video we took when we left Applecross so you can see first hand what it's like. Thankfully being in August the weather (for a change) was actually nice so we got a clear view and wasn't too scary!

Bealach na Bà

Bealach na Bà pronounced Bee-al-uch nu Ba(h).

The most notorious road from Applecross translated as the Pass of the Cattle. It's a winding single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. With some incredible steep roads and breathtaking views. Not for larger/long vehicles or inexperienced drivers.

The historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It has the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres (2,054 ft), and is the third-highest road in Scotland.

Be prepared to be patient when needing to do manoeuvres, or when stuck behind others, have spacial awareness (get to know the size of your vehicle and capabilities, reversing (get practising), courteous and mindful of motorcycles, animals, cyclists (brave souls) and other drivers!

When doing research for the NC500, I found lots of people were worried about taking on this road, especially when they aren't many videos or pictures of the road first hand so we took the opportunity to take a hyperlapse leaving Applecross to give people an idea of what to expect (nothing to be afraid of, just enjoy it!). If you need to take it a little slower than expected let others past, and stick to the left for passing places, keep an eye up ahead for when you can let others past and most importantly be courteous and enjoy your adventure!


Bealach na Bà

Alternative Route

As you may have seen from the sign above as you're going towards Applecross, there is an alternative route if, for example, you don't fancy taking the twisty, steep single track road on or if your vehicle is too long and unable to do some of the hairpin corners!

It takes a little longer, but with incredible scenery, it won't matter too much, you will just have to return when more experienced or with a smaller vehicle to take on the Applecross Pass!

NC500

If you're thinking about having a staycation, once (or for many people, many) in a lifetime road trip why not do some research about Scotlands answer to Route 66.

The Northcoast 500 (NC500) officially is a 516-mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. The route is also known as the NC500 and was launched in 2015, linking many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one touring route. There are other roads you can incorporate, but either way, it is worth it.

Kally Adventures recently did it and what an experience! We did mostly the official track but had some detours to see some incredible sites which I will link to think page as soon as I have uploaded them. They might help with your research or inspire you to use that annual leave, pack up the car and go for one hell of an adventure!

Whether you chose to do the NC500 like we did or have a staycation elsewhere, have fun on your adventure and stay safe!

© 2020 Kally

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      I have friends who hae driven around the north coast of Scotland. We are heading up to Inverness later this year. This is a very interesting article.

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