Applecross Peninsula Loop via Fearnmore and Tornapress Cycle Route

Cycle Route Details
Route NameApplecross Peninsula Loop via Fearnmore and Tornapress
Cycle Route Location
Start LocationApplecross Campsite
End LocationApplecross Campsite
Cycle Steps
1. This is an excellent Highland cycle over the UK's highest tarmac road, Bealch na ba at 626m. On a decent day, the views are unrivalled across to Skye and nothing beats the remote feeling of it all. It can be cycled anti-clockwise like I did from Applecross or clockwise from Kishorn or a little further away, Lochcarron. This whole route is on single track with passing places, although the traffic is minimal. There is likely to be the odd camper van or caravan, but most drivers are polite enough to get out of your way. The tarmac is good enough for a road bike. I did it on mine with skinny tyres. I did have perfect dry conditions and this route can be tough in the wet or worse. Bealach na ba (18km - 9km to the top/bottom in either direction) is pretty much the full 626m climb given that the start from either side is from sea level. The average gradient is about 7% and there are couple of parts it goes above 10% but not too far. The upside of cycling from the west is that you typically have the wind behind more than in front. Once over the top there are a few hairpins on a steep section which take care before the long straight sections down the mountain side. I needed a jacket in August for the windchill due the speed and altitude. Once down to Tornapress on the other side, turn left towards Shieldaig (12km). This is a steady uphill section to the much lower summit - I didn't notice it following Bealach na ba, I just thought I was going a little slower than I expected. Then it is a nice downhill section to the turn back on to the peninsula. As there are no shops, pubs, etc. on the route, it is an option to carry on to Sheildaig past the turn (an extra 1.5km) where there is a shop, hotel, cafe etc (normal opening times, but Sunday some are closed). Once back on the northern part of the peninsula, this is a tougher section than might be expected. None of the climbs are particularly long, but there are quite a number of them and some are steep at over 10%. This up and down road goes on for approximately 20km and can sap the strength more than expected. The last section back to Applecross (20km) is faster and while flatter overall the hills encountered have decent descents to help up the other side. Once back in Applecross you have the Applecross Inn for a well earned beer / meal as well as a couple of cafes and a small tuck shop type shop. For a small local store, this is another 2km past Applecross in Camusteel. There are no recognised cycle shops on the route, poor phone reception and what little you might find in Shieldaig or Camusteel is extremely basic, so I recommend a more complete spares / repair pack similar to what you might have for mountain biking.
Landmarks/Sites to see?
This is one of the most beautiful routes I have cycled. Views of Skye and Loch Shieldaig. The highest tarmac route in the UK, Bealach na ba. Applecross has a pub / hotel, cafes and a small visitor centre / shop. Shieldaig (1.5km diversion) has pub / hotel, local store, cafe. There are no bike shops on the route.