Ben Nevis, Scotland’s Iconic Mountain

Towering just behind Fort William, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles and rises 1,345 metres above sea level. It’s arguably the most popular mountain in the UK for walkers and mountaineers. Thousands of people hike up “The Ben” every year and the vast majority do so in safety. However, you do need to ensure you’re properly equipped and prepared to stay safe and to enjoy your time on the mountain.

While it’s definitely possible for most to reach the summit, the main thing to keep in mind is that Ben Nevis is not to be underestimated. It can be a difficult and potentially dangerous endeavour depending on the time of year and, most notably, the mountains changeable weather conditions. Most walkers ascend the summit from Glen Nevis by the Mountain Track. It can take on average about 3-5 hours to ascend the summit and a further 2-3 hours to hike back down again.

Mountain path from Glen Nevis

The mountain path up Ben Nevis is in fact the old access route to the now ruined weather Observatory and was designed as a rough bridle path for ponies. The observatory at the summit of Ben Nevis was established by the Scottish Meteorological Society in 1883. The Ben Nevis Observatory ruin is a fascinating part of Scottish history and the early days of meteorology in the UK. From 1883, the Ben Nevis Observatory provided invaluable meteorological data for about 20 years on a continuous hourly basis.

The path up The Ben used to be referred to as the “Tourist Path” but is now properly described as the ‘Mountain Track’ in order to move away from the misleading title of tourist path. The new title helps to persuade potentially unwary and unprepared walkers, as the route to the summit can involve arguably some of the fiercest mountain weather conditions and terrain in Scotland. The Ben path should not be approached as a relatively simple walk suitable for spur of the moment ascents by unprepared visitors. However, the Mountain Track is indeed the simplest and most popular route to the summit of Ben Nevis. The path begins near Achintee Farm in Glen Nevis, about 2km from Fort William’s town centre and 4km from Blythedale House.

Ben Nevis, Fort William, Scotland.

Glen Nevis Visitor Centre

The Glen Nevis Visitor Centre provides car parking, toilet facilities and good quality info about Glen Nevis and hiking up Ben Nevis. You can join the Mountain Track from the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre car park. It’s easily accessed by using the footbridge across the River Nevis and following the footpath for a short distance, where it then joins the Mountain Track itself.

From the visitor centre, you can also choose to stroll up the mountain path to the halfway hill lochan to take in the magnificent scenery and views, then simply turn back. There are also lovely walks in Glen Nevis and great paths along the River Nevis from the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre. If you’re keen to reach the summit of Ben Nevis and feeling a bit apprehensive, you can also make use of one of Fort William’s many excellent local mountain guides to ensure a fun day out. For more info about tackling The Ben, visit the Visitor Centre at Glen Nevis website www.bennevis.org