Ben Nevis Walk, Scotland. The tallest mountain in the UK

A challenging walk, via the tourist route, to the top of the UK's highest peak, the mighty Ben Nevis in Scotland.

3 peaks, walk, summit, Ben Nevis, Scotland, via the main path, map, route
Walkers on the way to the summit of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom.


Myself and a few mates had been wanting to climb Ben Nevis for a while, we'd done the highest peaks in the lakes, this was the next one we had to do. Being the highest peak in Britain, and throw a bit of male/walking ego into the mix - then it's got to be on your list hasn't it. We'd been rained off earlier in the year and had to cancel our trip, and by the time September came, it was our last chance of the year really - so we just went for it.....

The forecast for the weekend was mixed, with rain due, and snow on the way, so we crossed our fingers, packed the waterproofs, and took off on the 6 hour car journey to Fort William. It was not a journey I was looking forward too really, I get itchy feet when in the car too long, but after the 3+ hours it took to get to Glasgow, the rest of the drive flew by, probably because of the awesome scenery around every bend. Infact the last 2 hours was definitely one of the best surroundings I've drove in, with Glencoe being a big highlight, and the sight of the 3 sisters being something to behold. Anyways, onto the walk....


The Ben over Fort William:

This is not my photo - but I wanted to show (and see!)  a complete view of Ben Nevis towering over Fort William as unfortuntaley you couldn't see the top of Ben Nevis when I was there! www.dunlachlan.co.uk



We arrived in Fort William on the friday tea-time - with drizzle in the air. After checking into Westcourt b&b which i would highly-recommend (see bottom of page)- we headed out into town for a bit to eat and a couple of pints (note, 'couple' - we didn't want to feel too groggy the next day) so it was a case of an earlyish night on the friday - in preparation for the next days walk. We woke on the saturday to dry skies and a full scottish breakfast. Fortunately the days forecast was to remain dry - although the peaks would be covered in cloud. Slightly disappointing - although couldn't complain really as it was bucketing down on the sunday - so we got the best day of weekend for the walk. I would love to come back and do the Ben on a clear day - but I read that on 9 out of 10 days you can't see off the top of it......so got to be lucky with that one.

Anyways - bags where packed, stocked up with food, and we headed off in the car a couple of miles to Glen Nevis visitors centre. We were considering walking the lot from the B&B - but when we were coming back down from the summit - we knew it was a wise move to shave a few miles off the end of the walk :-)

The Ben Nevis Walk:

MILES: 10.3
TIME TAKEN: 6.10 hours

Because this was our first venture to Ben Nevis, and not really knowing what to expect and the weather a little mixed, we stuck to the usual 'tourist' route that I guess most summit walkers take. This route is up and down the same way:

ben nevis route map
Original map from here


Start of the Ben Nevis walk from the Glen Nevis visitors centre, peaks covered in cloud :-( It costs £3 to park in the car park all day - and I would recommend it - as we didn't fancy walking much further than the car park at the end of the Ben walk :-)


The title of this post was 'a challenging walk (beginners/tourist route)'. I put beginners in there because - you can, effectively, do this walk with no map reading skills whatsoever as the path is clearly defined all the way to the top, and there is no scrambling involving your hands - just very steep rocky steps for most of the way! Lots of people do this walk on most days during the warmer months, and you can just follow everybody else. This was the busiest walk I've ever done, some would say too busy, but I found it a nice change, and quite inspiring to see lots of people, men & women (and kids), from the very young to the very old doing the walk (lots even doing it for charity). There was even a triathalon event on when I done this walk - with the running part being to run to the summit and back! Rather them than me....

I did also put challenging in there too though, as whilst the route was clearly defined - it was still hard. The full walk took us around 6 hours (with maybe an hour for stops here and there). It took us about 3.5 hours to get to the top - and this was like climbing stairs for 3.5 hours! I felt the same (in terms of quite knackered!) at half way on ben nevis as i usually do when I have climbed to the summit of scafell pike or hellvellyn. Maybe because you are practically climbing the full 4,409 feet from sea-level at ben nevis, whereas in the lakes you are normally given a head start of a few hundred feet and the summits aren't as high. As I type this (4 days after the Ben climb) I can still feel tightness in my calf muscles! The day after the walk my full body felt like wood – and i would consider myself generally quite fit, just not used to walking up steps for 3+ hours then coming back down them! So be warned....you need to be quite fit to do the Ben - and still you will feel it in your legs for a few days after! Worth it though :-)


Crossing the River Nevis over the suspension bridge from the car park to begin the route

Initial route passes right by the Ben Nevis Inn - another decent place to park - and the perfect place to stop when you come back down for a drink, food & warmth :-)

There was the odd burst of sunlight poking through the clouds - but i wasn't expecting the skies to magically clear. I guess the grey skies kind of suit this rugged scottish landscape anyway... 

It's pretty much like this for 2+ hours - quite steep!


We took what is called the Pony Route - which has clearly marked paths and you hardly even need a map - just follow everyone else! I've never been on a walk where it was this busy. In some ways good to see others doing it - you kind of push each other on - although if you want a walk where you want to get away from it all - then try a different route!

Red Burn - which we would cross later on


It was an effort to get here to Loch  Meall an t- Suidhe, and this just about represents the half way mark!

Me looking a bit of a muppet! I was quite warm on the way up, but it was really windy, the Buff came in useful as a headband to cover my ears :P




Crossing red burn

walkers approaching the summit of Ben Nevis, Scotland, via the main path
Looking way back down to the Glen Nevis campsite, feeling quite high up now...


It's now a case of about 8 zig zagg paths to the summit



Going into the cloud line now....visability becoming a bit of an issue...
A bit of clearing which gives you a bit of an idea of how high up you are. Apparently some climbers come up this way - looked a bit hairy to me


The above photo is where my camera decided to run out of battery life, there wasn't much else to photograph from this point anyway - apart from misty skies and a pics on the summit. Time to switch to my camera phone....

Magnificent views from Britains highest summit :-P



Officially the highest person on land in the United Kingdom :-) For 30 seconds or so anyway....




Remote holiday home.....you can actually go inside this - guess its for those people who get into difficulties or arrive on the summit in treacherous conditions.

After a stop on the summit for some food of about 20 mins or so, the cold was starting to bite, as it must have been minus temperatures with the wind chill. So it was a case of put every piece of clothing I had on - and make the treck back down the same route..

Back down....

We stopped here at the Ben Nevis Inn when we got back down - perfect place to sit down, rest the legs and get a drink in warm cosy surroundings :-)




Check the weather forecast before you set off





Photos from others of Ben Nevis: 

(found on the internet-source links provided)


As we couldn't actually see off the top of Ben Nevis on our visit - I searched around on t'internet for the sights we never got to see. Here are a few I found, hope you get lucky if you decide to walk the Ben...


This is what the summit actually looks like. It's hard to imagine the steep drop from the summit when you can't see 10 feet in front of you.
View of the North face of Ben Nevis
Wow! View east from summit of ben nevis


Well there you go, that wraps up my post on my Ben Nevis Walk, hope you find it useful if you decide to tackle it, and I hope you get lucky with the weather. Whilst it was physically the hardest walk I've done, haven't ached for days after a walk like that before, it was also really enjoyable, a great challenge, and you get a big sense of achievement to have conquered Britains highest peak. Next year we'll be off to Snowdonia, and I wouldn't then rule out doing the UK's 3 peaks in 24 hours....



Extra Info on Ben Nevis trip


My mate booked the B&B, and for a lads weekend, a comfortable bed was all I wanted really. But he came up trumps and found Westcourt B&B. Honestly one of the most friendly and nicely decorated/furnished B&B's I've ever stayed in. More suited to a nice weekend away with the wife than a lads weekend away. Highly recommend it (I wouldn't just plug anything on my blog...)

Westcourt B&B - www.westcourt-fortwilliam.co.uk


We stayed 2 nights in Fort William and went out fro two meals - first night we had food in the Tavern - second night we went to the Cafe Mango indian/thai restaurant - both recommended - and both easy to find on Fort William high street. Also there are lots of pubs/restaurants on Fort William high street to cater to every taste.


More blog posts on Ben Nevis

This blog is a good read, bit of snow on top when this walk was done, an illustration of the changing conditions and the dangers of snow and cornices on top! www.sharkeysdream.walkingplaces.co.uk/




Thanks for reading! If you have any questions - just post a comment.

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ps. here is a couple of more pics from my weekender worth including on this page...

Stop off to admire the 3 sisters, Glencoe, Scotland

I just had to stop the car and take a few pics when we were driving through Glen Coe, with the brooding weather and grey clouds seeming to fit perfectly with the rugged mountain scape. We agreed that we would return to Glencoe another time to do some walking, and I quite fancy doing a wild camp in the Lost Valley of Glencoe - seems like a canny adventure (google it if you haven't come across it...)





Stop off at Loch Lomond

I knew we would be driving past Loch Lomond - so I quickly googled somewhere where we could briefly stop off and get a decent view of the Loch. Duck Bay was where we stopped for 5 mins - and a rainbow decided to show itself...

Rainbow over Loch Lomond from Duck Bay