Scottish Highlands and Islands: Part Two – Wester Ross
Onwards and northwards! From Skye, our next stop was to be at Applecross, a settlement by the edge of the sea, the far side of large hills, and with only minor roads to take us there. Despite being back on the mainland, it was harder to reach than Skye! And the journey there is part of the background to our next tandem ride.
As we began our day, the sun was shining warmly. But by the time we were approaching the climb to Applecross, thick cloud had appeared. This climb, over the pass known as the Bealach Na Ba, is not to be messed with. It is 9km long, is very twisty, and reaches 626m. It is also single track all the way (with passing places).
Well, it was certainly exciting, and I gather there are good views! Our visibility, however, was just metres ahead, and despite the weather there were plenty of vehicles on the road. Hard work!
As we descended the far side, we reached the bottom of the clouds and could see a little way ahead towards the sea. Then solid cloud blocked any further views.
However, before our very eyes, the cloud gradually, gradually receded and islands began to appear, then mountains, and we found we could recognise the shapes. We were looking at the Isle of Raasay from the far side, and the Cuillin of Skye were on the horizon. We had swung right round to the other side from where we had begun our day.
And with the cloud lifting, the sun reappeared. It was dazzling. We had to get out into this scenery – as fast as we could!
There was a little road heading out of the far side of Applecross and we began to cycle along it, thinking we would be able to travel a mile or so – we really felt that we were at the end of the world and the path must surely be about to end. But no, it continued above the shoreline, past a few houses that provided the homely smell of peat, an isolated school, a playground with a magnificent view, and a couple of churches. And all lit by this magical evening sun.
It all felt rather glorious and unbelievable after our journey over the pass. Then to top it all, we stopped on a hillside overlooking a little bay, just enjoying the views, when we spotted the bobbing heads of seals below us. They were sliding into the water from a little rocky island that was reducing as the tide came in, and they dived and reappeared before us again and again. Perfection.