The Applecross peninsula

View from Bealach na Bà

The first full day of our north-west highland break dawned bright and sunny – a good opportunity to cross the Bealach na Bà (Pass of the Cattle – 2054ft) to explore the Applecross peninsula. This is a classic drive on an old drovers’ road with a 1:5 gradient, switchbacks worthy of the Alps, and views across the Minch to Raasay and Skye. Before heading down the other side to Applecross village we climbed a small hill from where the views got better and better.

As we left, people just arriving reported an accident on the road behind us. An air-ambulance was mentioned, and we learned later in the week that a motorcyclist had broken his pelvis in a collision with a car – a sobering reminder to drive carefully.

Applecross sounds like a very English village, but the name derives from the Gaelic Apor Crosan meaning “estuary”. There’s not much there, though we found a good lunch (of course) – and deer!

By the time we’d had lunch, the road we had come down was blocked by a coastguard vehicle, presumably because of the earlier accident, but we were heading further round the coast to explore the grounds of Applecross House. We parked in a picnic area on the beautiful Applecross Bay from where we followed a 4km circular walk.

A short road walk took us to the Applecross river which we followed upstream into woods. We then climbed up the side of a small burn to a viewing platform – as on several of the walks we did on this holiday, there was much evidence of logging going on.

Next we skirted round the house itself – and even saw another “deer”! Applecross House was built by the Mackenzies around 1740, and the village largely grew up to service it and the estate. The Mackenzies also built the Bealach na Bà road in the 1820s – it remained gravel till 1956. Thank goodness for tarmac!

Behind the house was a walled garden – you can possibly tell by my determined gait that I’ve spotted a café at the end of that path. I smell coffee! And cake!

After refreshments, we explored the gardens a bit further. These two big kids couldn’t resist playing on the swings and treehouse.

Then we headed down the drive and back to the road and our car.

We planned to return the way we had come, but the Bealach na Bà was still blocked and we had to take the much longer, coastal route. Not a problem with these views and a herd of heilan’ coos (highland cattle) to look at!

We made a couple of stops at viewpoints over Loch Carron on the way home. I remember frantically checking my phone here, having had little or no signal until then. It was the day of the Wimbledon Men’s Final which was in an epic fifth set. I so wanted Roger Federer to win, but just after I logged in he dropped serve and lost. I couldn’t help feeling I was a jinx …

And the next day was jinxed too – I wanted to go to Skye, but it didn’t happen. Read on next week for our disaster in Glenelg!