The road on the left is the Bealach na Bà (the Pass of the Cattle) It is a winding single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. It was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps. There are very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It has the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres (2,054 ft), and is the third highest road in Scotland. There is a warning that the road is considered unsuitable for learner drivers, large vehicles and motorhomes. The route is often impassable in winter.

About ten years ago myself and some friends on our motorbikes rode over the Bealach na Bà, it was a challenging road, the switch backs tested our ability to control our bikes. When we got to the top, the view over to the so called “small isles” of the inner Hebrides was stunning, We rode down into the Applecross Peninsula where we were to stay the night. I have seen fewer more beautiful places in the world.

The Bealach na Bà came back into my mind for two reasons. Facebook posted some pictures we had taken 10 years ago of our trip to Applecross. It was a great memory of a fantastic holiday, with great friends in a stunning part of Scotland. (sadly it reminded me of how much I miss THE BEAST, my Aprilia Falco 1000cc motorbike

It also reminded me of something else, that difficult roads often lead to beautiful places. Its not easy getting to Applecross over the Bealach na Bà, especially in winter, but it is worth the effort. The last few months during lockdown has been a difficult road for us as a church and for many of us as individuals and families in a myriad of ways. I’m praying that just like my trip to Applecross, this difficult road will take us to a beautiful place that will make all the difficulties of the journey worthwhile

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