Friday, July 14, 2017

Day Two. Part Two. The Bealach Na Ba.

We drove away from the Commando Memorial heading north.
We were going to face the big challenge of the  North Coast 500 - the Bealach Na Ba.
The name means the pass of the cattle. Nowadays it can be roughly translated as Burned Out Clutch or I Need Clean Underwear.

The road out the glen is sunny, the scenery is breathtaking.
The road wibbles and wobbles round lochens and lochs causing different shadows  and reflections on the water.

The terrain is getting a little rocky, the atmosphere a little  more inhospitable.

Interesting photo (or photie as we Glaswegians say)

Taken out the motorhome window  while driving ( not me, I mean. I had the camera, he had the steering wheel)

Coming up to one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.
You can just see it on the promontory.

Eilean  Donan from the north...ish

Strathcarron from above.

We overtook this train, they have to go very slowy.... most things go slowly up here.

 And into a joint tunnel carved out the cliff
Up to this point we were on single track road with passing places. This means the road is so narrow only one vehicle can be moving along it at a time. There are frequent  'widenings' to pull into to let oncoming vehicles pass, often agreed by lots of flashing of headlights. The verges of these roads are soft and will swallow a vehicle whole. passing places are frequently occupied by Norwegian bikers stopping to answer a call of nature ( usually after being terrified in the previous passing place by a Highland cow)
Here is a  common sight about to become a rare sight. Note the road in the foreground, narrow and pink and crumbling. Then see the sign. The sign says 'The next bit of road is funded by the European union.

European road..... wide, grey, barriers, cars in both directions...

The bottom of the Bealach Na Ba

Quite nice so far

Road a bit iffy

nice scenery

climbing a bit now,  the top is at 2054 feet.... but here is a sharp bend with no barrier

good, nobody there... so on we go
in a 7 m motorhome

we are going up there

and round that

ready to fall into this...


it's a long drop down

famous for its hair pin bends at 1 in 5 gradient, so every five feet along takes you up one foot

looking back as we zig zag up...
the rocks in the foreground have fallen off the side of the road

the top

full of cairns to those who made it.
or did not make it

our campervan has a rest

and enjoys the view

it says , well done you got here
but you have to go down the other side now.
 it was too iffy to take pics. half way down  there was a Swedish woman in the middle of the road crying as their motorhome met ours ....Sometimes somebody has to drive round the other then inch past. Her husband  was a little fraught but they went on their way happy as we explained how to tackle the really narrow bits.

at applecross campsite

this garden had an interesting visitor behind the yellow dishcloth

one of these

very tame, we were this close

having a stroll through the campsite

Alan at the bottom of the Bealach Na Ba.

Devils claws on the hillside, they ward off Norwegian bikers with cystitis.

the sign points you the long way round

or in any conditions

left , right or across the inner sound?

Alan  standing by a hardy tree
Not The Hardy Tree , I think that's in a cemetery in London.

Me, bloody cold

My pal Graeme wrote His Bloody Project which was shortlisted for the Booker. It's the story of an ancestor of his who farmed around Applecross... well he did a wee bit more than farm.

There is a romantic majesty about the road. You get clapped by other drivers. Cars get stuck and other drivers get out to bounce them back on the road.  A open top 40 year old Jag was given a free run up - we all got out its way - both driver and passenger were dressed as Biggles.
People try to do it backwards. in fancy dress. A few folk run it.
Tough? The SAS train there.

Caro Ramsay 14 07 2017


  1. Ufda. I feel fully braced and the wind in my hair as I trot myself off to bed. At least my shorts are clean. Mostly.

  2. Ok I had to look up what Ufda meant. Universally Funny Driving Adventure!

  3. I had to look up "Biggles" to see what sort of dress I must adopt to get a free pass on your "single track" roads. I've had that experience in a small Audi, and can't imagine what it must be like in a motor home.

    Though, if left to Barbara's druthers, I'd soon have the chance. She's just mad about Scotland and my sense is I'll be loched into being there again soon. Until then, thanks once again for the wondrous tour!

  4. Barbara is a woman of great taste (except in men) She's very welcome to the land of skirling midges.
    Biggles - that would be flying leather jacket, goggles and a white scarf held out at an angle by a wire to give the illusion of speed..... Is that what you read Jeff?

  5. What I read is, "James Bigglesworth, nicknamed 'Biggles,' is a fictional pilot and adventurer, the title character and hero of the Biggles series of adventure books, written for young readers by W. E. Johns. "

    Making me, I assume, Barbara's Biggles!

    Now on to skirling midges...


    Is the link to the costume if Barbara is so inclined!!!

  7. Uhh, I actually once owned that jacket! I know, no surprise. :)

  8. Never been there, but I miss it.