What to Expect Driving the Bealach na Bà Road

Bealach na Bà Road Applecross Scotland NC500 Route travel blogger UK

Bealach na Bà Road Applecross Scotland NC500 Route travel blogger UK

Driving the Bealach na Bà Road

There are many winding roads and hairpin bends in the Scottish Highlands; but none more famous than driving the Bealach na Bà road. Otherwise translated from Gaelic, as the ‘pass of the cattle’ the Bealach na Bà is an unforgettable drive along one of the most dramatic roads on mainland UK. With views across Wester Ross, the isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides, on a clear day you can see for miles.

Bealach na Bà Road Applecross Scotland NC500 Route travel blogger UK

Bealach na Bà Road Applecross Scotland NC500 Route travel blogger UK

Not for Beginners

A winding single track road going up and over the mountains, the Bealach na Bà is not for beginners. If you’re driving a motor home or caravan, I urge you to reconsider your route. It’s single track the whole way to Applecross, much like many of the roads in the Highlands. With a dramatic mix of mountain scenery, right to the summit at 2053ft, there’s the opportunity to stop at a viewpoint at the very top and admire the scenery.

Bealach na Bà Road Applecross Scotland NC500 Route travel blogger UK

Bealach na Bà Road Applecross Scotland NC500 Route travel blogger UK

A Few Pointers

Here’s a few pointers we learned from our drive up the Bealach na Bà road:

There is such a thing as being too cautious.

With a 20% gradient, it’s one of the steepest roads in the UK, too slow and you’ll begin rolling down again. Too fast? You might hit another oncoming car around one of the many hairpin bends.

You have to take your chances.

With locals using the road to get from A-Z in the Highlands, they won’t wait around. Make sure you have your wits for you and go at it with full confidence.

Be confident in your ability.

If you’re a new driver, or driving a rental car you’re not fully confident yet, consider seeking out another route. There is a big warning sign before you reach the road for a good reason!

Beware of road conditions.

If it’s the middle of winter and covered in ice, chances are – you’re not going to want to risk it. The majority of the time the road it perfectly safe as long as you know what you’re doing.

Take in the views at the top.

If you’re the driver, you’re not going to totally miss out on all those fantastic views whilst concentrating on the task ahead. There’s a pull off point right at the top of the Bealach na Bà, perfect for taking in the breathtaking views of both the road, and the dramatic landscape surrounding it.

Passing places are not viewpoints.

Amazingly, I began to lose count of how many times I saw tourists stop at a passing place all across the Highlands to take a photograph. It’s incredibly un-safe, and passing places are ONLY to allow other cars to pass on a single track road. Wait until the top where there’s a designated viewpoint.

Know that you’re safe.

Although the Bealach na Bà is arguably one of the most famous roads in the Scottish Highlands, it’s by far not the most dangerous we have driven on. The Bealach na Bà has barriers around the entire route, and plenty of passing places to allow traffic to flow. Generally people are very considerate of one another on the road. Plus, it’s all worth it for that fantastic view at the top!

Will you be driving along the Bealach na Bà?

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Bealach na Bà Road Applecross


Welcome to The Little Things, a Scottish travel and lifestyle blog. Written by Louise, a graphic designer, living and working in Edinburgh. Sharing all of the little things in life which make her smile along the way. With her boyfriend Luke, and their cat Gizzy.

  • What gorgeous pictures!! Looks incredible!
    a life of a charlotte

    • Thanks Charlotte! The entire NC500 route is so beautiful x

  • The view is amazing! I love these photos. X

  • Having driven this road I completely agree with all the points apart form the view at the top which was completely obscured by fog when i reached the viewpoint, although I would definitely go and do it all again just for fun, view or no view!

    • Oh no! That’s such a shame, what an excuse to have to go back though! x

  • Eek, roads like this are the only thing kind of putting me off the NC500 – I haven’t had a car for the last 4 years so only drive fairly occasionally and can see myself freaking out at some of these steep, windy roads! It does look absolutely beautiful though!

    • It’s so worth the views, you just have to go for it! I must admit though, there were other roads further up in the highlands with NO barriers and totally hanging over the cliff on a single track, we had a few hairy moments!! x

  • I remember going on this road when I was a kid (it certainly sticks in your memory) and I found the hair pin bends kind of scary. Saying that I’d love to drive it again myself… maybe in a few years though!

    G is for Gingers xx

    • ha ha yes I wasn’t fancying attempting it myself! Personally taking in the views as the passenger was the best bit 😉 x

  • Definitely hoping to drive this road next month so your post is perfect timing! It looks incredible!

    • I hope you have a wonderful time! It’s such a beautiful part of the world – safe travels 🙂 x