Bealach na Ba (SW #69) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

4.2
FIETS
5.7 mi
DISTANCE
2,052 ft
GAINED
6.8 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Heiko Linnert, Amberg, Germany

TOUR DETAILS & STATS
2021 Tour de France

INTRO

The third most difficult cycling climb in the UK and is #69 on Simon Warren's Greatest Cycling Climbs in Britain list.  Warren writes of this climb, "this is it: The Holy Grail, the toughest and wildest climb in Britain. Anything you have read or been told about this amazing road is likely to be true. For once you can believe the hype."
The average grade of this great climb is 6.8% and the crux of this climb is from kilometer 4 to 8.5 averaging 9.6%.  56% (5.2 km) of the climb is at 5-10% and 16% (1.5 km) 10-15%. The steepest 500 meters is 14% and there is a continuous kilometer at 13%. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button above.
Roadway:  Fully paved and in good condition.  The road is very narrow 2 lanes with no center stripe of shoulder although the climb is safe for a cyclist. 

Traffic:  Mild.

Parking:  Climb start - MapStreet View.  
Provisions:  There are no provisions along this climb.

Gear and Weather:  This is Northern Scotland and it is very wet here, averaging 1876 mm (74 inches) per year.  Consult the PJAMM "Full Forecast" feature for the time you expect to be riding this climb. 
Consider this climb as an out and back from either side of the summit, taking on Bealach na Ba (Applecross) at 35 kilometers (22 miles) gaining 1,262 meters (4,141').  See map

If you'd like to stay in the area, there are some historic hotels and inns, along with very lovely cottage rentals as well.

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Bealach na Ba - road sign, loch and road

Serious climbing starts here - 1 km        

BEALACH NA BA WEST (TRADITIONAL ROUTE)

                             

Bealach na Ba is one of the most scenic, challenging and exceptional climbing experiences in the UK.  This road is one the farthest outlier of all Britain’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, situated in the far northwestern Highland Council Area of Scotland.  Perhaps the greatest testament to Bealach na Ba is that is is the only climb in the United Kingdom  listed in Daniel Friebe’s exceptional climbing books, Mountain High and Mountain Higher (pages 28-31 of Mountain Higher).  This is a bucket-list climb, a chore to get to, but well worth the effort.

Bealach na Ba the #2 most difficult climb Britain’s top 100 GCC and the 6th longest, is a scenic jewel.  It is one of the more popular with 6,300 Strava members recording the route as of October, 2018 despite its geographic isolation. The climb is 9.2 kilometers and averages 6.8% grade.

 

Near the start of 2.6 km 10.5% segment.

3.2 km up the climb looking south to Loch Kishorn

Simon Warren awards this “the Holy Grail, the toughest and wildest climb in Britain.” and gives it the only 11/10 in the book (100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclist’s Guide to Britain’s Hills).  The climb can be done both ways but he favors heading northwest on the road from Tornapress.

The pass gets its name from the Scottish Gaelic phrase “Bealach nam Bò which means “pass of the cattle” as this was once a narrow gravel road used to heard cattle over the mountains, when weather permitted!

No cattle, but there are red deer in these hill . . .

The climb begins at the mouth of River Kishorn where it flows into Loch Kishorn (a sea loch in the northwest Scottish Highlands).

Bicycle ride Bealach na Ba - Loch Kishorn 

River Kishorn just north of Loch Kishorn.

Northern tip of Loch Kishorn and the hamlet of Ardarroch.

Russel Burn flowing into Loch Kishorn.

Bicycle ride Bealach na Ba - Loch Kishorn

Bridge over Russel Burn at km 2.9.

Sgurr a'Chaorachain  (792m) in the background.

Bicycle ride Bealach na Ba - Loch Kishorn

True enough . . .

 

Bicycle ride Bealach na Ba - Loch Kishorn

. . . this is a very narrow road.

Bicycle ride Bealach na Ba - Loch Kishorn

Steep ascent.

Magnificent views of Loch Kishorn on our climb.

Bicycle ride Bealach na Ba - Loch Kishorn

Made it!

Summit

Steepest ½ km begins at km 7.2 (13.9%)

UK’s internet cycling magazine, Cyclist, December, 2016 compares Bealach na Ba on the western coast of the Scottish Highlands to the ascent of the Col du Galibier. “It’s not my lungs, on the verge of collapse, or my screaming quads that have prompted the comparison. It’s the view before me that’s sending memories flooding back.”   Article by Stu Bowers - http://www.cyclist.co.uk/in-depth/2021/big-ride-bealach-na-ba

Cycling Uphill calculates that Bealach-Na-Ba with its steepest gradient of 20%, can accommodate an “everesting” challenge in 14.1 times to reach 8,848 meters. https://cyclinguphill.com/100-climbs/bealach-na-ba/

BEALACH NA BA WEST (FROM APPLECROSS)

Cycling Bealach na Ba from Applecross

Climb 8.3 kilometers gaining 596 meters at 7.2% average grade.

Bicycle ride Bealach na Ba - Loch Kishorn

Sign from the traditional side of the climb - an epic Out-and-Back!

This side of the climb begins in the Scottish Highland’s village of Shore Street on Applecross Bay.  The ascent from Applecross statistically just as challenging and nearly as long as the traditional climb from the west.  

PJAMM will again climb Bealach na Ba in September, 2020 with BIG Cycling for its 35th anniversary tour.  

We expect to stay at the Applecross Inn as it appears to provide wonderful accomodations:

Judith Fish and her staff welcome you to the Applecross Inn. The Inn aims to provide you with friendly service, fabulous food and drink and comfortable accommodation.

Situated on Shore Street, on the remote Applecross peninsula, in the North West Highlands of Scotland, the Inn boasts lovely views across the Inner Sound of Raasay, to the isles of Raasay and Skye.”  Applecross Inn Website. .