The Bealach Na Ba Pass is a breathtaking mountain pass on the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross in the Highlands of Scotland. Here is a complete guide.
How To Get To Bealach Na Ba Pass
This pass is situated just off the tourist trail that takes you to the Isle of Skye but is however part of the popular NC500.
The nearest main road to the pass is the A896 and then you have to take minor roads to the start of the pass.
This pass is a single track road that is just over 11 miles long, with steep gradients and hairpin bends. (There are passing places along the way.)
However, it is not recommended that learner drivers, very large vehicles or caravans drive across this pass. (You will see signs at the beginning of the pass with this advice and an alternative route.)
When you reach the top of Bealach Na Ba pass, you will find a parking area that allows you to stop before the descent.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
Bealach Na Ba Pass Entrance Fee
It is free to cross Bealach Na Ba Pass.
Bealach Na Ba Pass Opening Times
This pass is open all year but can be closed during winter months due to snow.
Furthermore, it would not be advisable to drive over the pass in bad weather, for example ice or thick fog.
Best Time To Visit Bealach Na Ba Pass
It’s definitely better to visit in fine weather, if possible, to enjoy the views and the drive will be safer.
However, this is quite a popular destination during the summer months and can get very busy with traffic.
We visited after waking up in Ullapool and summiting Ullapool Hill, one of the best things to do on the North Coast 500.
If you get out at the viewpoint at the summit, it can be quite windy and cold, so dress appropriately.
The summit can become covered by low cloud sometimes and then the views will obviously not be great.
You need to be confident at reversing your vehicle, as you may have to reverse back to a passing place.
If you don’t like heights, this may not be the drive for you!
Look out for red-deer on the surrounding hills.
Don’t forget your camera!
What To Pack
Bealach Na Ba Pass History
This mountain pass was historically used as a cattle drovers road and its Gaelic name means ‘Pass of the Cattle’.
Built in 1822, this pass was built in a similar way to the roads that climb the mountain passes in the Alps.
There are very tight, Alpine like, hairpin bends that zig-zag up the hillside, with gradients reaching 1 in 5!
In fact, it has the steepest ascent of any road in the UK, rising from sea level to 626m (2054 ft).
What To Expect At Bealach Na Ba Pass
This is quite a challenging, 11 mile (17km) drive along a single track. Hence, you need to take it slowly and use the many passing places when needed.
A large sign, before you start the drive over the pass, advises that this route is not suitable for large vehicles, caravans or learner drivers. There is also a sign giving an alternative route if required.
Locals would advise that you go anti clockwise, so that as you drive through Bealach Na Ba you have the most spectacular views of the mountains. However, the views seem pretty spectacular in any direction!
If starting your drive from Loch Kishorn, you will find that the pass rises dramatically to 2054ft (626m) in about 5 miles (8km).
The views of the mountains and lochs as you climb up the side of this mountain, definitely rival views that can be seen on many of the beautiful Swiss mountain passes.
Once you reach the top of the pass, you will find a parking area which provides a superb viewpoint, as well as a chance for the driver to relax and enjoy the views!
The scenic views from this parking area stretch out across most of Wester Ross, the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides. On a clear day, there are opportunities for some great photos.
After reaching the top of the pass and enjoying the amazing vistas, the views on the descent are just as breathtaking, as are the hairpin bends!
The Bealach Na Ba pass has to be the most incredible drive in Scotland and once done, you really won’t forget it in a hurry. I would recommend it as definitely worth every hair-raising moment!
Where To Stay In Scotland
Offering free WiFi and free private parking, exploreNESS Apartment is located in Inverness, just 0.8 miles from Inverness Castle.
The property is less than 0.6 miles from Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and 1.6 miles from Caledonian Thistle.
The apartment features 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 1 bathroom with a shower. Towels and bed linen are provided.
A buffet breakfast is available daily at the apartment.
Located 1.7 miles from Inverness Castle, Loch Earn provides accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking.
There is also a kitchen in some of the units with a dishwasher, a fridge, and an oven.
A continental breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast.
Guests can relax in the garden at the property.
Just 10 minutes’ walk from Inverness Rail Station, Inverness Youth Hostel offers free private parking and bicycle storage.
Eastgate shopping centre is a 10-minute walk from this hostel. Hootananny, a popular music venue, is just 15 minutes’ walk away.
Culloden Battlefield and its visitor centre is just a 10-minute drive away. The banks of Loch Ness and the country village of Dores are both a 20-minute drive away.
All rooms have a shared bathroom. Packed lunch and luggage storage is available on request.
For more places to stay in Scotland, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.