Ben Nevis
16km Fort William Scotland

Ben Nevis Hike

Fort William, Scotland

A brutal climb up Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK.

Distance - 16km (10 miles)

Ascent - 1,434m

Duration - Approx 4 hours

Terrain - Mainly rubble tracks, some steps and then a bit of snow at the top.

Parking - Lots of parking at the Ben Nevis visitor centre. View Parking Map

View Route On OS Map

Back in the spring we had a little adventure in Scotland calling into lots of fabulous places including the Isle Of Skye and Fort William. As you know, I like a bit of a challenge, so I incorporated a little hike to the top of Ben Nevis in the plans.

Having a check of the routes, the easiest and most popular is the Mountain Track, also known as the Tourist Route which is straight up a well marked path and then down the way you came.

The route starts at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre and it's just a wee 8km to the top. Unfortunately there is also 1,350m worth of ascending to do too!

I also decided to walk 3km from the hotel so my legs were nicely warmed up by the time I got here.

As this was my first proper hike up a mountain in Scotland, I wasn't sure what the conditions were going to be like. From the bottom is was sunny, but the previous day I spied snow on the peaks. So the backpack was filled with a range of clothes, water and maybe a few slices of Fruity Malt!

From the visitor centre, it was looking a little misty, but the sun was starting to shine, so hopefully this would burn off and give me a canny view from the top.

Seems like this little bridge signifies the start of the route.

If you're used to walking in the Cheviots or wandering in the Lake District, then the routes tend to be a mixture of terrain and steepness. You walk up a hill a bit, then maybe along some grassy tracks on the flat, then maybe up another hill, then downhill a bit.

Looking at the map, this didn't appear to be the case for Ben Nevis as it was literally a solid slog uphill with little flat bits to catch your breath. The start bit seemed canny though with some steps heading upwards.

It wasn't long before I was spying magnificent views over the valley and Carn Dearg.

A cheeky little waterfall cascading down the mountain.

Looking back I'm now quite high up over Fort William. It's also boiling even though I am just sporting a short sleeved shirt.

At least the mist is starting to clear a bit.

At the halfway mark, around 4km, the route flattens off a little and a loch appears called Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe. It's an absolute welcome site and I stop here for a quick drink and to rest the legs. It has been 1 hour 20 of constant uphill to get to this point.

I continue on and have to splash across a little waterfall that spills out over the track.

As the trail gets higher, the condition of the path worsens where it looks like there has been a landfall and you have to pick your way through rubble. Still some belta views though.

Another little uneven stone staircase takes me higher up.

And I believe that is the start of the summit.

Wowzers, I am mega high up now. The peak you see there is over 1,000m high!

As I approach the summit I catch my first glimpse of snow. It's still absolutely boiling though.

Around the corner the path opens up to more snow and the peak on the left is the summit.

That looks a heck of a drop so I stay on the track and circle around to the top.

With another few steps I have made it to the top and there are literally hundreds of people up here. As I have my photo taken at the top I realise at this precise moment I am the highest person on land in the UK.

I have a bit of a wander around and take a few more photos of the view.

There are lots of little cairns, buildings and also a war memorial at the top.

After a quick break and some Fruity Malt, I feel energised enough to start the descent and I know my knees are not going to thank me for this.

The snow here is really deep, very compact and also extremely icy. Wish I had brought my sledge for this bit.

I see the welcome sight of the loch which is the halfway point down, but still a canny hike to get to it down through the rubble.

And another waterfall that trickles over the path.

As I am heading past the loch the phone of the chap in front of me starts belting out Local Hero as his ringtone and even though I am 5 hours away from home and 800m up a mountain, the probability of bumping into another Geordie is always high! We have a 20 minute chat about walks in Northumberland and of course the Toon and it helps us ignore the pain in our knees and hips for a while.

About three quarters down now and this flat bridge gives my ankles some respite and I stop for a quick sip of water and to take a few more photos.

And just like that I am back down at the visitor centre.

My decision to walk from the hotel rather than parking here has now backfired as I have a 3km walk back and my legs are wrecked! I stumble back and fortunately there is a pint of shandy and some peanuts awaiting my return.

2hr 30 up and then 1hr 30 down. Then another 30 mins to walk back!

Would I recommend this walk?

If you are looking to tick Ben Nevis off your bucket list and have the satisfaction of having climbed the tallest peak in the UK, then go for it. Even though it's busier in the summer, there is less snow on the tracks.

Otherwise, no! When I head for a walk I like to see lots of picturesque stuff and have the terrain and ascent be a bit more mixed. The Ben Nevis climb was uphill 99% of the time and the track was rubble in large parts so the walk ended up being very gruelling and you had to carefully watch where you were planting your feet at all times. It was also really busy too.

Best to head off to Glencoe, the Cullins or even Loch Lomond. Enjoy!

Where to Park For Ben Nevis

Lat / Long

56.810465, 56.810465

Show Parking On Google Maps

Where To Park For Ben Nevis?

What three words

Lots of parking at the Ben Nevis visitor centre.

Contributed by Simon Hawkins

Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue pele tower up a remote hill, a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.

More Walks from Simon
Simon Hawkins

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