Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis)

Routes to the top //

Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis) – Venomous or Terrible Mountain is the highest in the British Isles, standing 1344 metres (4,411 feet) above sea level. Tens of thousands of people reach the summit every year, meaning that it's a busy place, particularly in the summer months. It is perfectly possible for the novice hill-goer to walk to the top provided that they make some basic preperations. The mountain today is what remains of a large volcano that collapsed around 350 million years ago, it's form then being heavily shaped by glaciation so that now it consists of a broad plateau bounded by cliffs to the north east and steep slopes and gullies to the south west. There are numerous ways to reach the summit, the three more popular ones are described here; we are happy to guide any of them, get in touch to chat about options.

Mountain Track //

Otherwise known as the 'Tourist Path' or 'Pony Track', this is infact what remains of a bridleway for ponies to supply the meteorological observatory that operated on the summit from 1883 to 1904. Most people who walk on the mountain will do so by this route and on summer weekends it can feel quite crowded! For a bit more solitude a very early or slightly later start might benefit.

The ascent is on a rocky path, quite rough in places, which zig-zags its way up the mountainside without great exposure or technical difficulty. It takes on average around 8 hours of hard work to make a return trip – remember once you've reached the summit you're only halfway there!

Walkers should be fit and able to make 2,600 metres of ascent and descent. They should be prepared with grippy, supportive footwear, waterproofs, extra warm clothes, drinks and plenty of food. A comprehensive list of summer mountain equipment can be found here. When the mountain top is free of snow, which can be as late as June the path is visible and navigation is a simple matter of following the 'motorway'. When there is snow on the ground (which can be any time of year) but particularly Spring and Autumn the path disappears, in which case map and compass navigation skills are required.

Ben Nevis Summit
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Ben Nevis sunset
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Ben Nevis observatory
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Ledge Route //

This is a mountaineers route, a Grade 2 scramble, winding it's way through magificent rock architecture on the North Face of, eventually arriving at the top of Carn Dearg – a subsiduary top of Ben Nevis from which the summit lies around 30 minutes walk away. Much variation possible on the route, at it's simplest it is achievable by fit mountain novices and is highly recommended for small parties as an alternative to the Mountain Track.

Guiding on Ledge Route, Ben Nevis.

CMD Arete //

This is a long circuit of the Allt a Mhuilin and the North Face area of Ben Nevis, it's a very big day out and is recommended when the visibility is likely to be good, in order to appreciate the fantastic views. The ridge is narrow in places and requires some scrambling (use of hands as well as feet). Walkers need to be very fit, with a head for heights.

CMD Arete, Ben Nevis.

Tower Ridge //

Tower Ridge: 600 metres of Grade 3S scrambling with some short pitches of Diff Grade climbing, straight up through the north face of Ben Nevis, finishing near the summit of the mountain. The route is not too sustained, but fun, exhilirating and with the right help, not as daunting as many would think!

Tower Gap, Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis.