The Bealach na Ba or Pass of the Cattle is the highest road in Britain and ranked as one of the world’s ten best drives. It featured on Monty Halls’ TV series and we read that the scenery was stunning so we hoped for a sun filled, cloudless sky to enjoy it. Apparently on a fine day you can see across to the Outer Hebridies, unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We set out during a clear spell but when we arrived at the foot of the drive a cluster of angry looking clouds had gathered threatening rain. It had been a theme of the holiday, blazing sunshine one moment, torrential downpours the next. We went on, feeling confident that the cyclist at the foot of the mountain knew something we didn’t, he wouldn’t be pedalling to the top in pouring rain, would he?
As the car climbed higher the rain pounded down harder. The road itself curled and curved along the mountain sides, here were sharp bends and plenty of hairy moments. Pete was gripping the steering wheel as his trusty eight year old Peugeot rumbled up the mountain.
I steadied my nerves as I looked down the aide of the mountain, the single track road snaking higher up into the clouds ahead. At this point we needed to stop, rain was bucketing down. I prayed Pete’s clutch could stand the vile conditions.
This point was about a third of the way up. The sharpest bends were towards the peak of the mountain where the climbs were steepest, by the time we reached the top hailstones pounded down. It had been a breathtaking drive.
“I don’t think we can make it down to Applecross,” said Pete. “I’m just a bit worried about the clutch.”
“Can we get back down?” I said.
“Yes, but I am not sure we will get back over,” he said.
His hands were red from gripping the wheel. We slowly crept back down the mountainside, negotiating other bikers, motorists and the lone cyclist, who despite the conditions had pedalled half way up. He probably deserved a plate of the chicken curry I made that evening and a glass of champagne more than we did, phew!