Applecross Peninsula Circuit Ride

With mist curling out of the high corrie like smoke from a distant campfire, this was a spectacular start to a bike ride.

The Bealach na Ba is Scotland's classic hill climb, with the greates
t ascent of any road climb in the UK.

Most cyclists tackle the 'Pass of the Cattle' as part of a circuit of the Applecross Peninsula, and indeed it features in a well known sportive.

We rode from Shieldaig, and while I'd like to report our total mileage and ascent, I can't because my Garmin 305 stopped recording twice.

The climb seemed far less tough, and a lot shorter, than I expected. (Bear in mind we've just had a few weeks in France riding some Alpine climbs - more about those soon).

Nevertheless, there was just one really steep section, just before the switchbacks at the head of the corrie.

The descent was absolutely amazing.

At one point a huge stag trotted alongside Liz and, as she slowed, cut across the road infront of her.

Good job she wasn't going flat out.

And we weren't alone. We met two other riders on the summit and again in the village.

It was too early to head to the pub, so we hit the cafe at the campsite. We then rode south down the peninsula to the end of the road at Toscaig.

By the time we returned we decided it was definietly lunchtime, so we could allow ourselves more food - this time an amazing bowl of seafood chowder at the acclaimed Applecross Inn.

As you can see in the photo below, coupled with a massive plate of chips, this was hearty, tasty grub.

On the way out of the village we found yet another excellent place to eat - the Walled Garden Cafe/Restaurant. We had a stroll around the walled garden but couldn't justify stuffing our faces yet more food.

How come Applecross has such superb places to eat? On the way up we'd had an awfully disappointing meal at the Kishorn Seafood Bar, which has a decent reputation but failed to live up to it on the day we visited, with the worst Cullen skink I've ever tasted.

If you ever do this circuit, don't think Applecross is the end of the climbing. There is still a long way to go, and a surprising amount of it is up.

The ride around the 'flat' coast road is anything but, with a series of stings in the tail as you near Sheldaig.

So top up the water bottles. Save some energy. And maybe go easy on the chips...

Finally, here's the GPS track. We didn't sprout wings and fly two of the sections. The program just draws a line between places where the Garmin switches off and back on.

It was supposed to be on auto-start, so I don't know what happened here.


Ian said...

Impressive ride Simon!

I can second the quality of the food in the Applecross Inn, the half pint of prawns is a mighty starter....

Cakes from the Walled Garden are good too :o)

mrscatmac said...

Having recently become a road biking addict this route is on my 'to achieve' list. Roughly, minus food stops, how long did it take and what sort of distance is covered? Regards, Cat Macleod

Simon said...

Hi Ian - the weather was perfect for it. Climbing into the cloud was very atmospheric. And co-incidental that we blogged about the Applecross Inn on the same day!

Hi Cat - if only my GPS had been running throughout I could give you accurate figures!

GoogleMaps shows the circuit to be 43miles from Sheildaig, and normally I'd expect to do that in under three hours. BUT there's well over 4000ft of ascent on this route (the GPS recorded 3976ft and it skipped loads).

We started at 09:25 and finished at 16:40, so that's 7hr 15min, a time which includes two long food stops and the diversion down to Toscaig. Knock two hours off for those and the answer to the question you asked is "around 5 hours".

Oh - and I heartily recommend you enter the Etape Caledonia. It's not all ultra-fast racers. It's a superb event.


Anonymous said...

Rode it as part of the mainland linking routes for Cycling in the Hebrides due out next year Never saw a thing but loved it