Orkney & Shetland 2019 - Day 7

Applecross and Bealch na Ba


A clever marketing idea has been to devise the North Coast 500 (NC500) a 500-mile road trip, a 500 mile circular route starting and finishing in Inverness that takes drivers around the north coast of Scotland. The most stunning part of this route is probably the steep climb up the Bealach na Ba hill over to Applecross on the west coast. We attempted this climb two years earlier, but heavy thick cloud drove us back. This time we beat the weather, just, with some clouds that threatened rain and patches of sun for the journey.

Road trip over Bealach na Ba to Applecross

We started out from Fort William in the usual mirky cloud, but the sky gradually brightened and the sun appeared. We stopped at the Commando Memorial just beyond Spean Bridge then turned west at Invergarry on the A82. We climbed over the Bealach na Ba pass to Applecross then proceeded around the coast to the north, before crossing over to the east coast just north of Inverness. A bumpy winding road took us north through Gorton Bridge to Lairg beside Loch Shin and our hotel for the night.

We turned north onto the A890, bypassing Plocton this time and on to Strathcarron. The A896 took us to Tornapress where we stopped again for coffee at the delightful Bealach Cafe, at the turnoff for Applecross. The sun appeaed, so it was time to make the climb up the steep single track road to the top of Bealach na Ba. Surprisingly, there were few vehicles on the road, and none of the hopeless drivers in large expensive cars that we met last time. We stopped at the top then headed downhill to Applecross.

The Commando Memorial just out of Spean Bridge.
A holdup in the traffic...
for the swing bridge on the Canal. We went under this bridge in a Caley Cruiser 2 years earlier.
Salmon farms on the loch.
Yes, that's snow on the mountain.
.The gorse was in full bloom.
Driving through Lochcarron
You have been warned....
The turnoff to Applecross at Tornapress.
The start of the road to Applecross, 2019
The same road in 2017.
Start of the climb
There really is a view from the top....
this is all we saw of it in 2017!
Looking SW across Eileam Mor and Longay to Scalpay and Skye in the background.
Geographic marker at the top - not sure where the shadow came from..?.
Start of the descent to Applecross
The road seems to drop off the edge into the sea.
Applecross Bay the with mouth of the Applecross River.
The final descent into Applecross
The road through Applecross.
Houses and hotel at Applecross.

The Coast North of Applecross

Appecross was crowded, nowhere to stop for lunch so we continued north around the coast. At the north side of the bay we found a place to stop, complete with seat and table - ideal for lunch. As we dined we could see movement on the beach some distance away. This turned into a large herd of deer, that was running up and down the sand. We were not sure what they were up to, but they did provide entertainment for a while. Then we continued on around the coast.

House on Applecross Bay.
What are those deer up to?
They ran up and down the beach
Applecross across the bay.
The road continues around the coast.
"What's the password?" A highland coo blocking the road.
The road between Torridon and Kinlochewe
The Wester Ross ben of Beinn Eighe

Highland Hotel at Lairg

As we headed north from Inverness the cloud gathered again and we were soon driving in light rain. It was dark and grey by the time we reached Lairg, beside Loch Shin. We were booked into the Lairg Highland Hotel for the night. It was a rather quaint, isolated hotel but produced good food and a quiet night.

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Last updated: 30/05/2019