The Bealach na Bà is a curvy mountainous road located in the Applecross peninsula, Highland, Scotland. This twisting, single-track mountain road is the third highest road in Scotland rising up to 626m (2,054ft) above the sea level. It's one of the most scenic drives in the world. Speeds faster than 30 mph are rarely permitted.
The route demands 100% concentration. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. It's similar to the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends which switch back and forth up the hillside, with gradients approaching 20%.
It is recommended that beginner riders and those who don't know how to reverse avoid this road. The road is so narrow that there are several ‘passing places’. It means they are places when to stop when a vehicle comes from the opposite direction. The road is dangerous because is very narrow, sharp bends, steep gradients and lacks places to pass. The ‘UK’s toughest climb’ goes against the grain of many of the other British climbs, in that it is fearsome both in length and gradient.
Bealach-na-ba road was built in 1822
The road was built in 1822. The original road was rough gravel and very difficult to clear in winter, meaning it could be blocked for weeks on end. In 1950 it was asphalted. The road has gradients of 1 in 5 and includes hairpin bends. It’s not advised for learner drivers, very large vehicles or caravans after the first mile. The name is Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle. Perhaps the closest to an Alpine pass you will find on these shores, the hairpins are coiled on top of each other on an epic ascent which climbs 623m in total over the course of 8.9km.
This single track is one of the most challenging drives in Scotland. This road is usually open all year, but during winter months, it can be closed when the access is not cleared of snow. There are snow gates at either end, and winter closures can last weeks. It boasts the greatest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres (2,054 ft). Boasting an average gradient of seven per cent, the fierce road kicks up to much more than that with some of the steepest sections close to the summit.
What does Bealach na Ba mean?
Ideal time to travel is daylight. Not adviced night drive. The road really takes the breath away and offers a great cycling challenge, driving up and along one of the most dramatic roads on mainland UK. It has been featured in the television serie Hamish Macbeth and in the 1953 film Laxdale Hall. The drive is considered unsuitable for learner drivers, large vehicles and motorhomes. The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic, Bealach nam Bò, meaning ‘pass of the cattle’. Bealach na Ba has earned its fearsome reputation with good reason and for many it is rightly considered the holy grail of British climbs.