Britain’s longest single-track road that has driven men mad | UK | News

May 28, 2024
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The UK’s longest single-track road stretches miles into some of Scotland‘s most beautiful countryside and was supposedly built on the backs of madmen.

Bealach na Bà occupies a niche on Scotland’s roadmap, being a long, lone single track etched into Wester Ross’ Applecross peninsula.

The Scottish Highlands road is comparatively small, being just 9.2km (5.7 miles) long.

But it serves as the key to local views that could be considered some of the most impactful in Scotland.

The road provides a clutch of hairpin bends high in the Scottish mountains and runs to the waterfront below.

Bealach na Bà is otherwise known as Pass of the Cattle and was first conceived of by Scottish MPs in the 19th century.

Mackenzie of Gairloch and Captain Donald Mackenzie of Applecross, two local landowners, proposed the road as an improvement project.

The remains of another 2,000-year-old highway could be seen stretching through the area, and the two men hoped to rejuvenate the stretch of road to provide a path through tricky, rugged territory.

According to Hidden Scotland, the British government fronted 75 percent of the road’s building costs, and the first building contract was signed in 1818.

But the project was beset with issues from the start, with firms signing on and dropping out after finding Applecross treacherous and nigh-unnavigable.

At the time, rumours suggested that the high contractor turnover was due to the winding open road driving construction crews mad.

Other, more grounded speculators suggested the road was simply proving too difficult to tame.

Since the project was finished in 1822, that reputation has only persisted, and today, Bealach na Bà is known for its hairpin turns, rapid changes in height, and specific warnings for learner drivers.

The road has the most significant ascent of any road climb in the UK, taking drivers from below sea level to 626 metres in just six kilometres (3.7 miles).

Nevertheless, it is loved by visitors and locals alike, who have praised the Applecross’ rugged local beauty and the driving challenge, although some still recommend the trip “really is not for the faint-hearted”.



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