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The thing about epic journeys is that sometimes they make your actual arrival a disappointment. Not so with Applecross. Certainly your gob will be truly smacked by the cliffs and lunar landscape of the Bealach na Ba (Britain's second highest mountain pass at 626 metres above sea level), your route to the site and one of the most spectacular roads in Britain.
But on getting here you’ll feel like your adventure is just starting. Snuggled behind sleepy farm buildings and shielded from the worst of the elements by a native hazel wood, the campsite reclines along a curved grassy shelf right above the village rooftops. Through the trees you’ll glimpse an awesome panorama: from high-shouldered hills on the right, across a golden-sanded bay to the far mountains of Skye and Raasay. There’s a sense of being somewhere otherworldly and the campers you share it with feel like fellow pilgrims.
The campsite has its own beautiful café, where you will be delighted to see the wooden bar area opening out into a long flower tunnel, with neat tables, a small fountain and children’s play area. Come later in the summer and you’ll see the vines that twist prettily across the roof are bearing huge bunches of grapes. It’s a magical place to come for a coffee, and the quirky, relaxed and oddly exotic atmosphere makes it feel more like a travellers’ café in South East Asia than any Scottish campsite has a right to do.
Applecross must also be the only campsite in Britain with its own broch, a round Iron Age house. The remains of this ancient stone wigwam occupy a prime spot just a few feet behind the modern wooden ones, and it’s reassuring to think that people have known this was a camping spot worth journeying to for around 2,000 years.
From here you will get some of the finest views you will ever see of Scotland’s largest island, Skye, with its world-famous and unmistakable Cuillin Mountains. The site does have a few statics, a B&B and 10 camping huts (eight wishbones and two wigwams) to go along with the space for 60 tents but, aside from the height of summer, it doesn’t usually get too crowded, mainly because of the effort required to get here.
Down in the tiny village (little more than a string of whitewashed houses clinging to the seafront) the highlight is the legendary Applecross Inn. This is the hub of the community where locals and visitors mingle over lobster and langoustines (called prawns up here) hauled ashore by the bloke sitting in the corner who now looks a bit worse for wear after a few too many celebratory pints. Yes, you can walk all around the Applecross Peninsula, go out on an adrenaline-filled RIB (rigid inflatable boat) ride and cruise around on a stately sea kayak, but most campers seem to prefer to split their time between the Inn and the campsite (where every year in late summer you can join in an archeological dig) – while their cars sit sweating away in anticipation of the nightmare trip back across the Bealach na Ba.
60 pitches (10 with hook ups), 10 camping huts. Clean washblock with 2 showers and loos each m/f (8 onsite & a further 3 in the café); more are being developed. Coin operated laundry. Bar and café serving really delicious food. No campfires.
Tents, campervans, groups, dogs – Yes. Caravans are welcome, but may have trouble on the journey.
Applecross Bay has wide, golden sands ready for adventure. There are several lovely walks leading off from the site, and you can now walk to Applecross House (01520 744440) on a new off-road track to see the Victorian walled garden. This has several walks of its own to explore and a treehouse that younger campers will enjoy. Head south out of the village for a great cycle ride to Toscaig.
Food & Drink
The Applecross Inn (01520 744262) is justly famous for its fresh-from-the-boat seafood and its other dishes are just as fabulous. Its outside tables on the shore have amazing views and a couple have migrated almost onto the beach – nobody seems to mind. The Potting Shed Café (01520 744440) is in a sublime spot in the walled garden at nearby Applecross House. Its food more than matches its location.
Opening TimesMarch – November (although don’t even think about Bealach na Ba in snowy or icy conditions).
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Rated ★★★★★ over 8 reviews
One of the best experiences of my life
We stayed at Applecross campsite in July 2013. Our stay was amazing, good amount of toilets and showers. Area to clean plates and cutlery. Bar which sometimes has music on in the evening. We watched the funniest set of our lives here, two Scottish men, half cut, singing songs, telling jokes and playing bagpipes. We would definitely stay here again as the scenery in the surrounding area is to die for, from the coast to the mountains. There's also a bar down the hill which serves great food and drink.
Clean and well run
I just got back from a 2 night stay just before the start of the main school holidays. I tend to go wild camping or use more basic sites, so this site was relatively luxurious for me. I arrived late in the evening, so just followed the clear instructions to pitch my tent and paid in the morning. The staff were all very friendly and helpful and everywhere was well maintained - no litter on the site and the toilets and showers were clean although I expect the dry weather helped. The polytunnel cafe was open when I stayed (late July) and served a nice breakfast, which I ate beneath vines heavy with grapes. Odd bunch of campers when I stayed - dotted round the field watching each other. I am used to a more gregarious bunch so headed down to the pub, which is very hospitable though the midges are ferocious!
Wasn't as expected!
We recently visited Applecross and was massively disappointed! The price is now £18.00 for 2 people for 1 night in a tent! Which we are not bothered by if the site has good views. Unfortunately the views to the sea are all occupied by the unoccupied static caravans! So our view was actually the other campers! Although the journey to get there made the trip worthwhile as it was amazing! Despite the road - which was an experience in itself! One neither me nor my car will forget! The site is massive and was fairly quiet. Plently of deer which you can get in touching distance of... great close up shots can be taken through the fence - and i found the deer's are some what of posers! and an array of birds about the place! Definitely not our favourite campsite but if your up for an expensive stay, its worth it for the journey up the mountain to get there!
What an amazing campsite and was the perfect end to a week-long, impromptu Road trip. We visited the inn on the first evening and the garden walled cafe the next morning which were both lovely. We had picked the site based on a pin-on-map, liked-the-name basis, booked earlier on the same day with no problems, got there and threw the tent up in the overflow field (no caravans) and went wondering, it really is a beautiful place. Yes I got bitten on every square inch of my body, yes there was a little noise from large family groups. Really though, I'm realistic in my expectations for a camping stay and this site exceeded them. Wholly recommended and getting there is more than half the fun!
Missed on every level
Applecross was the second leg of this camping trip, and although the road to the campsite was one of the most exciting, scary, beautiful, breathtaking roads we've been on, we felt the campsite missed on every level by just a fraction..... Reception is only open at certain hours so there are times when no-one is available to help. No mops in the shower areas which were muddy & grassy even just after cleaning because the weather was mixed. There seemed to be a lot of coming and going late at night and very early in the morning. I think this is an "in transit" camp site - people don't seem to stay for very long - one or two nights only. Our mistake was staying for 4 nights..... We may go back, but definitely only for 1 night. Beach wasn't a patch on the beach at the previous campsite
Well worth the journey!
Ok, so at any campsite in Scotland there will be midges, and in summer, it will be busy. Other than that, I love this campsite. The views are simply stunning. The polytunnel cafe is one of the best campsite cafes I'd ever been to, yummy cakes and breakfast, sheltered from the midges in what feels like a Mediterranean terrace! Applecross has lots of beautiful things to see and places to explore, and the campsite is a great place to do that from. We've camped once, and visited the cafe twice when we've been in the area, it never disappoints.
In the area: definitely use the community petrol station to support it. The local pub food, at the Applecross Inn, is superb.Go up the coast to Sand and run down the dunes, and check out the Mesolithic rock shelter. The walled garden and cafe are pretty, and the little local museum is great. Go in over the Bealach na Ba - the view over to Skye is amazing- then take the coast road out to the north to Torridon - there are craft shops and places to pick up local seafood on the way. Highly recommended!