Am Baile/Edinburgh and Scottish Collection, Edinburgh Central Library
Today, the Bealach na Bà is both an iconic road and a critical lifeline into the community for emergency services among others.
Long ago, it was used in motorsports events. In the early days of motoring, at the start of the 20th century, drivers would journey from places like Inverness to Applecross to test and demonstrate the capabilities and reliability of the motorcar, and challenge the skill of the drivers. It is believed that a car was first driven up and over the Bealach na Bà around 1904. Another driver who claimed to have gone over first in 1906 later wrote that he’d made it up without once having to use the sprag bar– this was a device pushed out from under the car to stop it from rolling backwards!
The Six-Day motorcycling events began to visit Applecross, coming over the Bealach in 1909. Motorcycles taking part used to park lined up along the retaining wall of Shore Street, while the participants had lunch at the Applecross Inn. It was such a novelty that the school used to close so that the children could see what was going on.
Among the people who took part in these motor car challenges, the legendary aviator Amy Johnson once raced over the Bealach. A gentleman who had seen and spoken to her when she was taking a break from competing when he was a schoolboy passed away only in the summer of 2020.
More information on visiting the area can be found here.