Day 16 — Bealach Na Ba: Britain’s toughest road climb

by | Jun 21, 2024 | 6 comments

I girded myself up for this one but, in the end, it wasn’t as tough as the billing. Super scenic, yes, but I reckon Hardknott in the Lake District is tougher.

Of course, this could be because I’ve got a super wide range of gears on the Vielo +1 (I didn’t even have to resort to the lowest one today) and that my experience of Hardnott is arriving at its base after 100 miles of tough riding on the Fred Whitton Challenge.

For the drone photography I rode Bealach Na Ba’s final hairpins several times. Stopped motorists — who couldn’t see the drone — must have wondered what on earth I was doing.

The Applecross peninsula is spectacular, and spectacularly windy. On the descent from Bealach Na Ba I had to ride with one foot unclipped, throwing out a leg in order to get some balance against the gusts which nearly succeeded in wiping me out.

At other times the wind was at my back and pushed me along tremendously.

I caught up with two Dutch cycle tourists on one of the super scenic descents and was glad to have models to photograph. I’ll likely do a posting with some of those photos when I get better connectivity.

I met Jude in a Loch Carron cafe. She’d had a relaxing day visiting Attadale Gardens and buying stuff in the several craft shops in town.

We rode back to our cottage, with me swearing at a few of the drivers passing us. Some go mentally fast, perhaps because the distances between settlements are so spaced out here.

Earlier, one of the drivers who probably heard the two earfuls I gave him (he was in a convertible sports car, and I saw him twice) was treating the Applecross roads as race tracks, as many motorists do, sadly.

The NV500 designation attracts boy racers, especially middle aged ones.


  1. Ronald Buitenhek

    Nice to have met and be in your blog. Looking forward to the pics! Enjoy writing your book.

    • Carlton Reid

      Thanks for being in the photos — it’s great not to have to set up the tripod to get a cyclist in the photo!

  2. hans versteeg

    hi Carlton, it was fun meeting you, taking the same pictures at each corner. great blog! and respect you’ve done the hairpins several times – we hardly made the first one. look forward to the pictures 😎

    • Carlton Reid

      Well, you had luggage, I had very little. My pannier bags were stored at our holiday cottage. If I had been riding fully loaded I would have also struggled.

  3. John Traynor

    Can’t imagine any place as tough as you, Carlton. Pedal on! Epic!!

    • Carlton Reid

      Erm, Jude is now with me for a few days and I’m struggling to keep up!


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Ride Stats

  • Moving time
    05 hours 01 min 45 seconds.

  • Elapsed time
    06 hours 28 mins 37 seconds.

  • Distance
    60.1 miles (96.7 km).

  • Elevation
    6,119 ft (1,865 m).

  • Average speed
    12 mph (19.2 km/h).

  • Max speed
    39.8 mph (64 km/h).

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