Applecross – The best road cycling loop in the UK?

I’ve heard it be said about Applecross that there’s nothing there. “Just a pub and few houses”….er that’s kind of the point! A wild loop
with views out over the sea to Skye, this narrow road deserves to be ridden by bike and not driven. It forms part of the now famous North Coast 500 a stunning riding route, that unfortunately more people are missing out by choosing to to drive instead. The roads are busier than they used to be but it’s still all relative and an enjoyable ride.

This is one small section and a day ride but don’t underestimate this whole loop. It’s never flat and the probability is high there will be a strong headwind for half of it! I set out on my Kinesis Tripster ATR V1 which I have now set up as a fast and light all day road bike. Clad with 28mm Gatorskin tyres and stripped back to lightweight minimal weight it’s ideal for this ride.

I rode the loop starting from the Campsite at Applecross in a clockwise direction.

While I didn’t take a camera around the whole loop. I rode the infamous Bealach Na Ba climb twice to ensure I got some pictures from this amazing climb.

As sunset was approaching I left the sea otter swimming in the water and these amaizing views to Skye to ride back up the climb while bathing in the most amazing soft light:

The hill is slightly gentler from the west I think, but it is pretty closely matched as it rises well over 600m from sea level.

The climb is the closest to an alpine style ascent as there is in the UK, the final hairpins aren’t gentle though. This shows the last switchbacks on the west side:

As I approached the summit the golden light was mesmerizing, we weren’t the only ones making the most of it. A crew from a Torridon tour company had a camera team with them and were taking hilariously cheesey looking pictures of a elegantly dressed model draped over the bonnet on a Land Rover Defender. Only one of the crew acknowledged me as I said hello, I assume they we embarrassed by what was going down. I guessed it would be an advert for the Chinese or another foreign market to lure them to the glamorous Applecross!

It was chilly by now and the last shafts of light flying out over the Isle of Skye;

The next day we went up and over again with Marion riding her new Kinesis Tripster AT:

In daylight it was busier but still no rain and a great morning work out.

We were soon back down the other side.

As always there was time for a short gravel detour on todays route:

Bealach Na Ba is certainly a bucket list climb for all keen road riders and this loop really is the only way to ride it. So put it in the calendar for 2018, and maybe take it as part of a wider bikepacking loop in the stunning North West of Scotland.

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