Famous Bealach na Bà roadsign snapped up by Highland museum

It became a right of passage of those crossing perhaps the most famous road in the Highlands.

The defaced road sign at the Bealach na Bà which has now been acquired by Applecross Heritage Centre. PIC: Contributed.

Now those who have left stickers and graffiti on the sign that marks the start of the Bealach Na Bà road to Applecross have obscured essential safety advice on the sometimes perilous route to such an extent that it has had to be replaced.

The sign has now been acquired by Applecross Heritage Centre, which considers it as a “piece of history” which charts the swell of motorists now using the road after it was included in the North Coast 500 driving route.

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The new sign, meanwhile, has been set a little higher to stop it being obscured once again with a warning now added for the ever-present campervan driver.

Annabel Macrae, director of Applecross Heritage Centre, said: “This sign is now part of the history of Applecross. Because of the defacement of the safety message, it was very much a sore point – you couldn’t read anything.

“The sign warned of the gradient and the hairpin bends and that some vehicles, including caravans, shouldn’t tackle it.

"Over the years, tourists wanted to leave their mark on the sign but the problem was, because nobody could read it, some people would come on the road and reach a state of panic. They couldn’t go forward and they couldn’t go back.

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"It is a really important sign. We are hoping that now the new one is higher, it won’t be defaced so easily."

Ms Macrae said Highland Council has recently undertaken improvements to the road, which rises from sea level to 2,054 ft, with new passing places created and fresh tarmac laid.

Earlier this year, the Applecross Trust described the state of the road as at a ‘tipping point’ given the volume of traffic now taking to the route, with unprecedented levels of congestion, breakdowns and damage to the road surface.

The pandemic has now led to a substantial drop of traffic with road maintenance now accelerating.

Ms Macrae said the health crisis had led to a dramatic shift in visitor numbers to Applecross, which she described as more like the 1950s given the quiet streets and lack of traffic.

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