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Ben Nevis

Updated on May 24, 2017
Summit of Ben Nevis
Summit of Ben Nevis | Source

Climbing the Ben

The opportunity for me to climb Ben Nevis arose in August 2015 when I worked in Fort William for a week. On my day off, I decided to take the challenge and ascend to the highest point in Great Britain.

I packed a small rucksack with water and lucozade, lots of chocolate snacks, sandwiches and crisps. I took a waterproof coat and did the climb in trainers, although hiking boots are recommended. Taking a few separate layers of clothes is a good idea.

You will need both hands free so it is important to take everything in a rucksack. The beginning of the walk is fairly easy but do not be fooled, this is a serious climb and should not be undertaken lightly.

Interesting facts about Ben Nevis

  • Ben Nevis is known locally as "The Ben"
  • It is the highest point in the UK at 1344m (4,406ft)
  • Around 150,000 people attempt the climb each year
  • The Mountain Track is 16 km and takes 6 to 8 hours to complete
  • James Robertson's 1771 ascent is the first recorded climb to the top
  • The track dates to 1883 and was built to reach the observatory which was open until 1904
  • Items such as pianos, beer barrels and beds have made it to the top
  • The Ben Nevis race takes place on the first Saturday in September, the record is an hour and 25 minutes
  • The "three peaks" challenge involves climbing Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike in one day
  • There was once a hotel at the summit
  • Start your ascent from Glen Nevis, there is a visitor centre and car park
  • A model T ford also made it to the top!

There are no toilets on the mountain so be prepared for this before you go. There are public toilets at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre. Take several layers of clothes that can be easily removed, raincoats can get very sweaty!

You need to take plenty of water. This is not a tourist climb, it is one of the most difficult terrains to encounter in the UK. The beginning of the trail is not too hard going but it gets much harder from about half way and the terrain is much more difficult to negotiate.

Higher up, the mountain is very exposed, it's wet and windy and very steep. When you think you are close, you've got another two hours to go. Near the summit, visibility can be quite poor and you will more than likely encounter a little bit of snow. Quite a strange thing to find in August, especially when you have just been sent holiday snaps of your kids sitting in the Turkish sun!

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Fort William is a beautiful part of Scotland. It may only have a small high street and few big stores but plenty of beautiful scenery and places to see. A drive to Glenfinian is about forty minutes and you can see the iconic bridge that features in the Harry Potter movie.

There are also distilleries to visit of course and sample the real Scotch Whisky made from the water from the slopes of Ben Nevis itself.

  • Do not leave litter on the mountain, even if it is bio-degradable
  • Do not rely on your phone, there was not always a signal
  • Most accidents happen on the way down, take as much care coming down as going up Ben Nevis
  • Take a photo at the summit, to prove you were there

It was quite eerie when I got to the top. There were plenty of other people about though and if you leave before midday, there most likely will be. There is a real "Scotch mist" at the summit. The edge is a sheer drop, so be careful! The terrain is very rocky once you leave the path for the final ascent but you can wander away from the main area, especially if you need to pee!

The remains of the original building are there and some people do still camp out here.

Most of all, I really enjoyed the day, it is great to be able to say that you have done this and it is by no means easy.


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