An absolute must on every camper van owners list of must do road trips. Applecross sits on a wild peninsula in Wester Ross on the remote west coast of Scotland. There are two roads in to Applecross both of which are equally stunning in very different ways. I’d recommend enjoying this spectacular route in a clockwise direction (it also means you’ll reach the pub a little bit quicker than if you go anti-clockwise!).
From the A896 Bealach na Ba turning (north of Ardarroch) it’s an 11 mile journey of hair pin turns on a single track mountain pass with breath taking scenery all the way to Applecross. You’ll start at sea level, a mile in you’ll laugh at the memory of the sign advising you of the dangers of the road ahead. Several miles later you’ll be clutching the steeling wheel a bit tighter than normal as you negotiate the zig zag turns while appreciating the stunning landscape and making a mental note why never to upgrade to a caravan! Pray that the weather gods will cough and blow the clouds away so that you’ll be able to fully appreciate the beauty of Wester Ross from the summit of Bealach na Ba. Otherwise you will be battling the turns in the mist and feel like you’re in Mordor when you reach the top.
The drive to the summit is just over 2050 feet, there are places to park so it’s worth while getting out of your camper and taking a few moments to enjoy the view before the descent to the shoreline at Applecross. If you think that the road may widen for the descent, you’d be wrong, it’s as narrow on the way down as it as on the way up. On the bright side the many passing places provide you with an opportunity to take in the view, while others pass. Horace my VW camper certainly found the journey down Bealach na Ba far easier than the climb up!
After enjoying your drive over one of the highest roads in Britain you’ll deserve a drink at the Applecross Inn, easily located on the seafront. There’s also a community owned petrol station located on the seafront too, remember it’s a long way until the next station so it’s the perfect spot to fill up your camper. The pub is one of only two places where you can eat in Applecross, so if you’re planning on an evening meal, it’s best to book in advance. The food is delicious, the atmosphere friendly and welcoming. The other option for food is the Applecross Walled Garden Cafe and Restaurant ……. it’s amazing! The owners are passionate about growing and catching the food that is served. A meal at this incredible place is not to be missed. If you plan to walk to the Walled Garden from your camping spot take a head torch for your walk home. After my meal (and a bottle of wine or two) following the long driveway back to the road in the pitch black proved more difficult than I expected. Luckily the owners spotted me in their car headlights stumbling off course and under muffled laughter told me to get in the car and enquired as to where I would like dropping off!
My home for the night with Horace was at the one and only campsite in Applecross, it’s the best spot to camp if you want to take advantage of the pub and restaurant. Again, it gets very busy so you’ll probably need to book. The village is tiny but definitely worth exploring. If you head north up the coast you’ll come to the Applecross Heritage Museum which is an interesting spot to spend an hour or so. A walk south along the coast will take you to a stunning gallery on the seafront showcasing an incredible selection of locally taken photographs by a young photographer. An inspiring gallery which will make you want to explore more of Scotland. There’s lots of walking trails for those who want to explore a little further inland.
When you’re ready to leave the coziness of Applecross follow the road north to Shieldaig. It’s 25 miles of simply stunning Scottish coastal views. Be prepared to stop, frequently! You’ll want to pull over and enjoy the view and take some snaps. Even if you’ve left your camera at home these views will be ingrained in your memory forever. It’s beautiful. The road is a single track zig zag of tarmac hugging the coast all the way to Shieldaig.
This is one Scottish camper van road trip route that you don’t want to miss. The route is part of the new North Coast 500 (Scotland’s version of Route 66), it showcases all the best bits of Scotland.
By Ana – The CamperVana
Applecross Inn: www.applecross.uk.com/inn
Applecross Walled Garden Cafe and Restaurant: www.applecrossgarden.co.uk
Applecross Campsite: www.applecross.uk.com/campsite
Applecross Heritage Centre: www.applecrossheritagecentre.org.uk
North Coast 500: www.northcoast500.com