The Bealach na Bà is a winding single-track road located in the mountains of the Applecross Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands. This historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is designed similarly to the roads of the major mountain passes in the Alps, with very narrow and steep curves and maximum ascent gradients approaching 20%. It is often referred to as one of the most scenic and challenging drives in Scotland.
The Bealach na Bà boasts the fastest ascent of any road climb in the entire United Kingdom, rising from sea level in Applecross to 626 meters (2,054 feet) in just 8 kilometers. Additionally, it is the third highest road in Scotland. The name Bealach na Bà is Gaelic, meaning “pass of the cattle,” as it has historically been used as a drover’s road. Its pronunciation is Bee-al-uch nu Ba(h).
Bealach na Bà offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, lochs, and coastal landscapes. The road winds through dramatic and rugged terrain, providing breathtaking vistas at every turn.
Driving Bealach na Bà
To drive on the Bealach, as it is commonly known, one must be cautious due to the very narrow road where barely two vehicles can pass each other. The route is often impassable in winter. Take your time and keep in mind that the road is usually used by local vehicles, which are generally faster. Let them pass and enjoy the views!
Large vehicles are not allowed
The narrowness of the road makes it prohibited for trucks, buses, and motorhomes to circulate. So, if you’re touring Scotland with a motorhome, remember this to avoid any surprises. Also, it is common to yield to traffic coming from downhill. It is essential to use the wider spots to give way to other vehicles.
Beware of Fog
On foggy days, the limited visibility can make it difficult to see oncoming vehicles, especially on curves. On Bealach na Bà, not only should you always keep your lights on and drive slowly, but you should also be prepared to stop quickly.
Bealach is a fantastic place for cycling enthusiasts, despite not being an excessively long pass. The steep slopes make it a challenge for those who want to conquer it by bike. When cycling uphill, just focus on the spectacular views you can enjoy at the top… and the impressive descent that awaits on the other side.
Once you reach the viewpoint at the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Applecross Peninsula, as well as glimpses of the Isle of Skye, Raasay, Ardnamurchan, Eigg and Ron islands, and the Hebrides islands of North Uist, Harris, and Lewis. However, the Scottish weather is not always the best ally, so warm clothing is essential regardless of the time of year.
Bealach na Bá in Google Maps
Featured picture: Neil Hamilton
Spanish version: Carretera Bealach na Bá, Escocia