Shieldaig – (Bealach-Na-Ba) – Lochcarron
5070 feet climbed
2337 calories burned
I’m definitely going to start sounding like a broken record, because we woke up to more rain. It gets quite demoralizing knowing you’re going to have to get back on your bike at some point… in the rain! I don’t mind the rain on it’s own, it’s when it comes with howling gales that’s the problem.
We tried to set off but had to batten down the hatches because the rain and wind closed in. It was frustrating because we could see where we needed to go but the rain just would not let up on a small corner of the loch that we had to get round before heading along the coast. Once it looked relatively clear we got going down the A896 again following the edge of Loch Shieldaig.
The weather was still windy and we could see rain off in the distance but we got round the edge of the loch without any rain, no problem. We then turned off the A896 on to the route that would take us to Applecross, at this point we no longer had the motorhome with us as the road was too narrow, it met us after the Bealach-Na-Ba loop.
When we started to edge round to the coast on the west side, this is when the heavens opened, the wind unleashed itself and all hell broke out! It was awful, the weather just closed in on us and we couldn’t make very good headway. It’s the worst feeling because it’s tough to go on in the wind but then you know you can’t stop because you will just freeze. On top of that there was absolutely no where to shelter, just heather, moss and rocks – no trees, no buildings, no nothing, so all we could do was just battle on.
The rain did ease off slightly and this is when we managed to get a glimpse of the Isle of Skye across the waters! Put it this way, it didn’t look very inviting and not somewhere where I was looking forward to spending three days cycling. When we were closing in on Applecross, we had done about 25 miles, the weather had eased off, there was just a strong breeze and this actually helped to dry the jackets out.
Before we contemplated doing Bealach-Na-Ba, we went into The Applecross Inn and shared a bacon, brie and cranberry sandwich. Whilst in there, we met a chap that had just done the climb, he looked very happy to have done it but quite weary! I asked what the conditions were like, he said dangerous, with wind and rain squalls and that he had to get off his bike because he felt that it was too risky! This was not what I needed to hear before attempting it, it made me incredibly nervous.
Once we were ready to set off, we snaffled a flapjack, a couple of strawbs and a banana (me thinks we were panic eating!). I then started my video recording to document the climb and we set off.
It was literally a climb all the way to the top, for something like 7 km’s. I have never experienced wind and rain like it at the top, along the ridge – it was absolutely horrific, so much so I was a bit of a girl and had a wee tear! Dad and I had to get off and push for 200ft, not because of the climbing but because of the wind – it was literally pushing us off our bikes.
What you also have to remember is that it is a single track road, with passing points and that you are navigating it with cars aswell, some more courteous than others! As it was so windy we were having to cycle in the middle of the road so when the wind hit us we weren’t taken over the edge into the gravel!
I recorded most of the climb, so I will upload that once I have a stronger internet connection and that will give you a better idea of the whole experience.
Once we had reached the peak, the wind was absolutely phenomenal – I really did just want to get it over and done with but we still had the descent to contend with! Again, the video that I recorded can do a much better job at showing the hellish descent, so I will leave it there!
Needless to say, when we were down in the valley and I saw the motorhome at Kishorn, I was rather relieved! We had a quick bite to eat and then decided to cycle just 4 or 5 miles down the road into Lochcarron to sleep!
Over dinner we showed Mum and Harry the video that I had recorded of the climb and I think they were a bit shocked at what we had done! Harry had cooked us up a treat though to help us relax after the ordeal, pork ribs and rice with a bottle of red wine!
We had to sleep on the rough again as there were no campsites anywhere to be seen! Unfortunately as well, the electricity ran out so we were without lights, water or anything for the end of the evening. It didn’t matter too much, there’s not much four of us can do in a motorhome at the edge of a loch with thousands of midgies descending around us, so we all went to bed!