Scottish Icon, Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis needs no introduction. The legendary peak, with its wild heart, adventurous spirit, and flair for drama, towers above gleaming lochans and deep glacial valleys. This is the highest point in Scotland.
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The landscape of Scotland is dotted with Munros and mist-shrouded hills.
Scotland's highest peak was once a massive active volcano that exploded and collapsed in on itself millions of years ago.
The king of them all is Ben Nevis. The famous peak in the north west Highlands, near Fort William and part of the Grampian Mountain range, attracts 125k walkers each year. Whether you're an avid walker or simply enjoy beautiful scenery, climbing 'the Ben' is likely to be near the top of your Scottish bucket list.
Ben Nevis was once a massive active volcano that exploded and collapsed inwards on itself millions of years ago, making it an ancient land giant. There is evidence of an explosion at the summit in the form of light-colored granite. The name itself has two translations from the ancient Gaelic language, meaning'mountain with its head in the clouds,' due to its iconic mist-shrouded peak, or'venomous mountain,' which you can decide after the climb.
Continue reading for an overview of mountain hiking routes, or go to Walk Highlands for detailed maps, difficulty levels, and walking advice.
Remember that completing a Scottish Munro or Corbett is never "easy." Before attempting any Scottish mountains, you'll need a good amount of hillwalking experience, fitness, hill craft, and map and compass navigation skills, especially in winter.
Ben Nevis has two main hiking routes. Most walkers use the Mountain Track (also known as the Tourist Track or the Pony Track), whereas the Carn Mor Dearg Arête route is more difficult for more experienced hikers.
The track begins at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre car park, at Achintee on the east side of Glen Nevis, about 2 kilometers from Fort William's town center, and approximately 20 meters above sea level. The route begins with a steep climb to the halfway lochan', or Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, and then ascends via zigzag paths to the summit.
The highest point is marked by a cairn at the summit, and on a clear day, the incredible 360° panoramic vistas can stretch as far as Northern Ireland. See if you can spot any other peaks from the top, such as the Torridon hills, Ben Lomond, and Morven in Caithness.
The Old Observatory, which opened in 1883, is a unique feature of the summit. It recorded some of the most useful information about mountain weather in the UK for nearly 20 years, providing hourly meteorological data. It closed in 1904 and is now in ruins, but it can be used for emergency shelter.
Learn more about the Mountain Track route.
This spectacular route, which includes boulder scrambles, can take between 10 and 11 hours to complete. It takes a good head for heights and careful navigation through the more difficult exposed sections.
The other walking route on the mountain is Carn Mor Dearg Arête, a difficult ridge climb that should only be attempted by experienced scramblers and physically fit hill walkers. Despite its difficulty, the route rewards walkers with some of the best views of the mountain's North Face. The trail begins at the North Face car park in Torlundy and travels through two Munros, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. It can also be reached by continuing along the Mountain Track until you reach the 'halfway lochan,' then taking the left fork while the right fork continues along the Mountain Track. You'll pass the CIC Hut, a private mountaineering shelter. This spectacular route, which is longer and more difficult than the Mountain Track, can take between 10 and 11 hours to complete, with scrambles across boulders. It takes a good head for heights and careful navigation through the more difficult exposed sections.
Learn more about the Carn Mor Dearg Arête.
There are numerous other fantastic ways to experience Ben Nevis.
The North Face of Ben Nevis is a rock climber's paradise, with steep jagged cliff edges that reach 600m in places and are ideal for rock climbing. There are several routes to take, including the Ledge Route and Tower Ridge.
Learn more about the rock climbing adventures available on Ben Nevis.
A Nevis Range mountain gondola ride is another option for seeing the sights. Drift effortlessly along the north face of the Aonach Mor, taking in breathtaking views of the Great Glen, Ben Nevis, and, on clear days, the Inner Hebrides. The journey takes about 12-15 minutes, and each gondola car seats up to six people.
The gondola cars are wheelchair accessible, and you can take your dog for a walk along one of the mountain viewpoint trails.
Please visit the Nevis Range website for more information on prices and times.
Make your Munro-bagging dreams a reality by learning everything you need to know before lacing up your walking boots.
It really depends on your level of fitness, the weather, and how many breaks you take to enjoy the scenery. It usually takes between 7 and 9 hours to complete the Mountain Track, with an approximate ascent of 3000 feet. 5 - 4 It takes 5 hours to reach the summit.
It's a long and arduous climb, and you might have stiff legs the next day, but the sense of accomplishment you get from scaling the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom is hard to beat.
A tall 1,345 m To put it in perspective, the London Eye is 135 meters tall and Big Ben is 96 meters tall.
Although the Mountain Track is relatively easy to follow on a clear day, having a map and a compass and knowing how to use them is essential, especially if visibility is poor during the climb.
Camping on the mountain is not recommended. During the summer, the peak is exposed and popular with hikers, and pitching a tent would be difficult due to the uneven terrain.
The Glen Nevis Campsite is conveniently located near the mountain's base. The Mountain Track begins just a short distance from the campsite.
Summer is always the best time to climb the Ben, with sunshine and clear views on the way up. Snow is likely at any time of year, but climbing Ben Nevis in the winter is only for experienced mountaineers. Check out Mountaineering Scotland's #ThinkWINTER guidance if you're planning a winter ascent, and make sure you have the necessary skills and equipment before you go.
The weather on Ben Nevis is erratic, with glorious sunshine one minute and fog and gale force winds the next. Even on the brightest of days, temperatures at the summit can drop to sub-zero, so bring appropriate all-weather gear. Always check the mountain weather page before venturing out, and if in doubt, always turn back.
The HD webcam at Tomacharich, Fort William, provides live weather and conditions from Ben Nevis.
Warm, waterproof clothing is essential, and cotton should be avoided because it absorbs moisture. A good pair of walking boots is also essential. Don't forget to bring some hiking tools with you, such as a map, compass, torch, whistle, and food and water.
Remember to bring all of your trash down the mountain with you. Because there are no bins on Ben Nevis, it is critical to maintain the landscape.
Learn more about the Nevis Landscape Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Mountain Track for future generations.
Absolutely, as long as they're prepared for any weather and up for a challenge. The Carn Mor Dearg Arete route is not recommended for children.
If your dog enjoys long walks, then yes. It is best to keep dogs on leash, especially when the paths are congested with walkers. In addition, some sections of the route will have uneven terrain, scree, and loose stones, which can be difficult for some dogs.
Before you leave, you can buy snacks, get maps and information, and use the restrooms at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre. Fort William also has several outdoor shops in the town center if you need anything.
Yes If you are unsure or want to learn more about this massive Munro, there are several guided walking tours that will take you up and down the mountain. Take advantage of the guides' local knowledge and walking experience to learn more about the mountain's viewpoints and facts.
Visit Visit Fort William to see all of the available guided walks.
Fort William is located at the base of Ben Nevis. Depending on traffic, it takes about 2 to 3 hours from Glasgow and 3 to 4 hours from Edinburgh by car. You can also take a direct train from Glasgow to Fort William or the Caledonian Sleeper from London Euston. There is also a direct CityLink 914 bus service that runs from Glasgow's Buchanan Bus Station to Fort William Bus Station.
The difficulty of this hike is frequently underestimated, so always be prepared and go at your own pace. There are local guided walking tours available if you are not confident in your own sense of direction. Make sure someone knows where you're going and that you have enough time to return before nightfall.
Any snow ascent necessitates a high level of fitness, winter equipment and the ability to use it, as well as mountaineering and navigation experience. Remember that snow can cover parts of the 'tourist' path even in the summer. Local mountain guides can advise and guide you to the summit and back if you are unsure. Fill out a mountain safety route card and leave it with someone you trust.
Check out these safety tips from Mountaineering Scotland and Walk Highlands for more information on staying safe on Ben Nevis.
When you're not admiring the breathtaking views from the mountaintop, immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant personality of Fort William and the surrounding area.
Visit the Ben Nevis Distillery, one of Scotland's oldest distilleries, which was founded in 1825. Take a tour of the distillery the next day and ease your weary muscles with a dram of single malt, a perfect souvenir for those who have completed the climb. The distillery is located in Lochy Bridge, Fort William, about a 7-minute drive from Ben Nevis.
Take a sip at Ben Nevis Distillery.
Because Fort William and Lochaber are known as the "Outdoor Capital of the UK," there is a wide range of adrenaline-pumping activities available.
Try gorge walking or canyoning with Vertical Descents.
With Active Highs, you can get hooked on a new watersport like white water rafting or river rafting.
Ski or snowboard at the Nevis Range in the winter, or try other exciting outdoor activities like mountain biking, tree-top adventures, and paragliding throughout the year.
Learn more about the Nevis Range.
There are numerous beautiful scenic walks in the Fort William area. Take a short walk through the Nevis Gorge to see the cascading Steall Falls, or continue on to the Iron Age Dun Deardail fort, which has a stunning hilltop location and can be reached by following the waymarked path from Glen Nevis.
Learn more about the Steall Falls walking trail.
Learn more about the Dun Deardail walking trail.
Visit the fascinating and free West Highland Museum in Fort William to learn all about Jacobite history in the north west Highlands, with medals, weapons, and one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's silk waistcoats on display.
Learn more about the West Highland Museum.
Take a rail journey of a lifetime aboard the iconic Jacobite Steam Train, which runs along the West Highland Line from Fort William to Mallaig during the summer months. It passes through the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct, which appears in the Harry Potter film series.
Ride the Jacobite Steam Train
The Harry Potter itinerary will make you feel like a wizard.
Things to do and see in Fort William
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