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Ben Nevis 1344m
Situated in the Highlands region of Scotland, Ben Nevis is the highest peak in Britain. The coastal town of Fort William is at the foot of the Ben, and has many outdoor sports and climbing shops, good accommodation and places to eat. It is popular with tourists in the summer, and with skiers and winter climbers during the winter, so arrange somewhere to stay before you arrive.
The Youth Hostel and start of the Tourist Path are only two minutes drive from the center of the town.
The original path (unfortunately named ' Tourist Path ') was constructed in the 1880's to service the observatory which was being built on the summit plateau. This is now no more than a badly derelict building, however the path remains. The path on the summit plateau is not distinct, and should be treated with upmost care in poor visibility. Large cornices will sometimes remain well into the summer months, disguising the top of many gullies.
Ben Nevis summit area map
From the car park at visitor center, cross the footbridge and walk beside the river a short while, then left beside a wall up to the start of the main path. Climb steadily and soon the path from Glen Nevis Youth Hostel joins from the right. Continue upward, crossing two Alpine style footbridges, then more steeply to Lochan Meall an t-Siudhe, where a second path joins. Please note any erosion diversions in force around this area.
Bear right at the junction and head up the zig-zagging trail. After the zig-zags, the path eases onto the summit plateau, which should be treated with caution, especially in poor visibiliy.
Descending from the summit.
This advice comes from Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, and is printed on the summit area map which they produce.
Warning : these bearings and distances are only likely to be of any assistance if you are already a competent navigator. Even very experienced mountaineers can have great difficulty navigating accurately in severe wind or white-out conditions, such as occur frequently on the Ben Nevis plateau.
1. From the summit trig. pillar walk 150m on a grid bearing of 231` to near the top of Gardyloo Gully (first marker pole*).
2. Then follow the grid bearing of 282` to clear the plateau (a second marker pole is situated 300m along this second bearing, at the top of McLean's Steep*).
Marker poles are removed regularly by people who disagree with their placement, so do not count on them being in situ.
During your attempt, you should be able to complete Ben Nevis within the following times:
Climb - 2.5 hours
Descent - 2 hours
Remember that as Fort William is at sea level, you will have to climb almost the full 1344m to the top. The start to Scafell and Snowdon both allow you to gain some height in your vehicle first. This is one good reason to start your challenge in Scotland rather than Wales !!
The path to the top is steep or very steep for it's entire length, but is well maintained.
Ben Nevis Area Map
Ordnance Survey maps covering this area -
Landranger 41, 1:50,000
Outdoor Leisure 38, 1:25,000
Pahtfinder 277, 1:25,000 with inset of summit area (1:10,000) on some editions.
Note : O.S. are introducing a new range of Explorer maps which will replace Pathfinder maps in certain places.
The nearest emergency phone is outside the Youth Hostel at Glen Nevis.
We found BT Cellnet coverage to be poor to moderate between the Ben and the car park.
Some Local Links
Guide to what's on around the area. Live Nevis webcam - see the conditions on the Ben before you go !!!
The internet guide to Scotland - Fort William area pages. Accommodation, events, and contacts.
Guide to Fort William and Lochaber
A Bad Day On The Ben...
This is a "must read" account of a disasterous days walking on Ben Nevis. Well written, with good images and excellent advice - take a look.
Poor visibility and poor navigation don't mix well...