The Three Peaks Challenge - Ben Nevis

Details of Ben Nevis as part of the Three Peaks Challenge

The first of the 3 Peaks is normally Ben Nevis, Highland, Scotland.

Ben Nevis - 1344 metres

'Mountain of Heaven' (Gaelic Translation)

Situated in the Highlands region of Scotland, Ben Nevis at 4408 feet 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 and mountain bikers in the summer, and with skiers and ice 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 (now named the ' Mountain Track ') 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 when snow covered, 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.

The Route

From the car park at Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, 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 (Halfway Lochan), where a second path joins from the left. 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.

Walking Times

During your attempt, you should be able to complete Ben Nevis within the following times:

Climb - 3 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.
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.

Further details can be
found here.

Three Peaks Challenge - Ben Nevis Summit Map
Ben Nevis - Three Peaks Challenge FAQ's

Q. What time should we start our 24 hour Three Peaks Challenge?
A. It's a good idea to try and complete most of the walking in daylight, and the driving in darkness. Deciding upon a suitable start time at Glen Nevis depends upon the time of year and your intended mountain walking time on Ben Nevis. Most popular is a very early morning start allowing you to complete Scafell Pike in daylight, or an afternoon start, allowing you to start Scafell Pike as it's going light.

Q. Do we have to start at the Visitor Centre?
A. You can also start from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, and the Ben Nevis Inn at Achintee, but parking and facilities are limited.

Q. How difficult is navigation?
A. The paths are well maintained and obvious in good, clear visibility, and only bacic map reading skills are required. However, when the summit is snow covered, or in misty conditions, it is easy to get lost. The summit is extremely dangerous in poor conditions.

Q. What are the summit conditions like?
A. Snow stays on the summit well into the summer. Conditions can change very quickly here. A forecast is posted in the visitor centre, and the staff will offer friendly useful advice.

Q. Where is the best place to stay?
A. Fort William and the surrounding area has plenty of campsites, bunkhouses, hostels, B&B's and hotels. However, these can become fully booked well in advance, so don't just turn up!

Are you still up for the Three Peaks Challenge..?

If you still want to attempt this exhilarating and demanding challenge, then start reading through our website. Check our Blog to see what we've been up to. We have over 10 years worth of knowledge completing many
successful challenges with private groups, charity teams and corporate organisations. If you need any help - please just visit the forum or email

Good Luck - Stay Safe..!

Mobile phones tend to get a very poor (if any) reception in the valley areas. Reception from the summits is much better. You should back up your communications with VHF radios, and send text messages where possible if the person you are trying to contact has no mobile signal.

Ben Nevis:

Summit has good signal. Glen Nevis is poor, but possible for most networks. Fort William has good reception.

Snowdon - Pen-Y-Pass behind
Ben Nevis summit - first peak climbed..!
Three Peaks Challenge start, Glen Nevis
Teams at the finish of the 2008 Three Peaks Challenge
Three Peaks Challenge
Merseyventure Challenge & Adventure Website
Three Peaks Challenge Forum
Browse the Three Peaks Challenge forum here
Merseyventure Adventure & Challenge Shop..!
Three Peak Challenge blog from Event Organiser
Open Challenge Series 2009
First Three Peaks Challenge event:
The Spring Stroller
9th - 10th May 2009

Open Three Peaks Challenge Series 2009
Challenge Start
Coleman Open Challenges 2008
Summit of Scafell Pike
Public Footpath Sign
Typical Scafell Pike conditions...