A picture that tells a story

Mar 28 | 2016

This removals van is negotiating the Bealach nam Bo (Pass of the Cattle) that leads to and from Applecross, one of Scotland’s most isolated villages.

The pass has a 20% gradient and hairpin bends that take traffic to over 2000 feet on one of the highest roads in Britain.  Some readers in other countries might not think that’s high, but at a latitude of over 57° north - that’s bleak. 

Although it’s wild, on a clear day (of which there are few in that part of the world) the views are dramatic over Inner Sound to Rona, Raasay and the Isle of Skye.  But in all likelihood, the crew on this vehicle didn’t have much time for sightseeing. It can only be assumed that the vehicle is delivering to Applecross because the van has come from Tain, on the other side of the Highlands, 150 miles away.  Quite why the family was moving to this remote spot is anyone’s guess but it is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most beautiful places and, in a country that must rank as among the most breathtakingly stunning in the world, that’s saying something. 

The van was obviously a little smaller than required for the load, but was probably the biggest that could possibly negotiate the pass.  Would the driver have checked out the route before leaving? Let us hope so otherwise he and his trusting crew would have got a bit of a shock as they approached the precipitous climb.  Today, tackling the pass in a modern 4 x 4 vehicle requires more than a little concentration.  Attempting it in an over-loaded removals van would have been very scary indeed. 

It’s also possible that the vehicle is moving someone out of Applecross, which conjures up a slightly different scenario.  Probably no moving company in the local area, knowing the terrain, would have accepted the job and the desperate customer might have had to search far and wide for a sufficiently unsuspecting company to take it on.  Who knows? 

Today you can also get to Applecross by a much longer coast road which is equally dramatic in its own way.  But that wasn’t completed until 1975 so, when this picture was taken (about 1950?) this was the only way in other than by boat. 

Does anyone out there know anything about Thomson & Co from Tain?  If you do, please get in touch with The Mover so we can give the company the international round of applause it surely deserves.  Could the driver still be alive?  Maybe.  If so, The Mover would love to interview him.  Assuming he’s recovered his sanity that is.  

Photo: The dramatic scenery around Applecross.