Bealach na Ba, Applecross Peninsula

Travelling along the steepest road in the UK

The Bealach na Bà, or ‘Pass of the Cattle’ in English, is a single-track road which runs from Kishorn to the village of Applecross in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. This was the original land route to the Applecross peninsula, with the pass being converted to a road in 1822 and today it is still just a single track with passing places and hairpin bends (we fear what it looked like originally!). It is the steep road in Scotland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

Unlike Bealach na Ba, Applecross doesn’t sound very Gaelic and that’s because it isn’t. It is thought to derive from derive from the Pictish ‘Aber Crosan’, which means ‘the mouth of the Crosan River.’ The Gaelic name, which covers the full peninsula is ‘A’Chomraich’ and translates as ‘The Sanctuary’. 

Today, there is a less arduous coastal route to get to Applecross from the north, but for the full experience and great views then we recommend traversing this steep road, which is also the third highest in the UK. This is one of the most challenging drives in the UK, the title of the steepest road coupled with the scenery increases the popularity of the route, which has an average gradient of 7.2% but is 20% in places. It really is stunning but not recommended for large vehicles unless you really like stopping and reversing off the side of a mountain repeatedly, so shouldn’t be attempted by caravans, lorries nor inexperienced drivers but beware of other drivers who may not have researched it properly. We drove both in both directions, firstly south-north towards Applecross for sea views and then back again the following day where we witnessed a camper van having to reverse along a section of the road, while a Tesco delivery van and cyclists(!) made their way to the summit.

Are there parking places on the Bealach na Bà?

Scotland is notorious for not having parking spaces where there are beautiful views but thankfully about halfway on the pass, take some time out to stop at the car park near the summit, which is 626m (2,054 feet) above sea level, and admire the rugged beauty. When we were there some walkers were pottering about, just be wary that the weather can change quickly and it can get very misty.

Video of Bealach na Ba

A somewhat quick drive through Bealach na Ba.

@foodieexplorers #applecross #scotland #vacation #holiday #fyp #fypシ ♬ Beautiful Place – Kianome

Views from the summit

Ticking off the North Coast 500?

The road, all the way from Kishorn to Shieldaig is part of the North Coast 500, so you can bag a bit of the route here, or incorporate it into a full NC500 trip.

Where is the Bealach na Ba?




I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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