Walking the Heights of Ben Nevis
The highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis measures a staggering 1,345m tall, which is three and a half times as tall as the Empire State Building. Attracting thousands of walkers, climbers, and hikers from across the globe, Ben Nevis has made its name as one of the most famous attractions in the UK to get your walking boots on for.
Once at the summit - fingers crossed Mother Nature is on your side - you’ll have the whole of Scotland and beyond to look out on to. Can you spot Edinburgh Castle or the Falkirk Wheel? With the miles of stunning views at your disposal, you’ll probably be able to see that and more.
When’s the best time?
Whether you’re a pro-hiker or an amateur who enjoys relaxing walks, it’s recommended to take on the Ben Nevis route during the summer months. The weather is more likely to be complementary to your walk from May to September. However, don’t be fooled into thinking it will be all sunshine and rainbows when you reach the summit. Although the base will be warm when you reach the top, the temperature will drop and there’s a high chance of snow to be present at the peak, too.
If you’re opting to experience the walk during the winter months, it’s essential that you know the ascent during winter can reach unbearable freezing temperatures. There is a high chance of snowfall that could obscure paths, which is why it’s advised to take caution during the wintertime.
What should you pack?
People often say less is more, but not with Ben Nevis it isn’t - always take more than you need. The season of your ascent will influence what you pack, however, no matter what month it is you will always need layers.
If you’re going for a summer trip then make sure you have sunscreen and sunglasses packed. You don’t want any burnt faces when you reach the summit or the rays to get in your eyes and dazzle you whilst getting your hike on. If you’re blessed with a glorious sunny day, don’t make the mistake of going on your Ben Nevis exploration with just a t-shirt and shorts - when you get to the top you’ll be shivering. Layers are key and the best advice is to pack for all weather types.
Some may be tempted to go on the journey in comfy trainers, but you’re not on the flat ground anymore. Ben Nevis loves to throw some rocky terrains out there, so definitely invest in a pair of walking boots - the colour and style, we’ll let you choose those. What goes hand-in-hand with long walks and hikes? Walking poles, of course. They help to relieve the pressure and stress on your knees to make sure you reach the top.
Aside from packing the essential attire, here’s a quick checklist of what else you should consider taking with you:
- A map to navigate the mountains
- Food and drink
- Torch with batteries
- First aid kit
Which route is best?
The Ben Nevis Mountain Path, also known as the Pony Track, attracts the most tourists and is the most popular route to the summit. The route can be accessed one of three ways: the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, the Ben Nevis Inn, or the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. The route follows the same way down as it does the ascent and is roughly a walk length of 9 miles. This route’s level of difficulty is graded at very hard.
The River Lundie walk is marked at a medium difficulty level and is a walking length of 2.13 miles. The surface and terrain is much smoother than the popular Mountain Path and provides walkers with a chance to take a relaxing walk through forests and woodlands. It’s important to note that this route is mainly through trees and only has certain glimpses of mountain scenery.
The walk starts next to the Hire Wire Adventure and is signposted into the woods, where you will cross over a small footbridge over the river and be on your way to a Scottish woodland adventure.
Starting from the Nevis Gorge car park, the Steall Gorge route is approximately 1.97 miles long and has a rating of a medium difficulty. If you’re a tree fanatic then this route is certainly for you as you’ll be able to marvel at trees such as alder, ash, birch, and of course the Scottish pine. Although this route is a lot shorter than others, it can be a tricky walk due to steeper inclines and rocky and slippery paths.
Ben Nevis Scramble
Do we have any scrambling fans? If so, then the Ben Nevis Scramble route will be right up your walking path. Measuring nearly 10 miles long, this is the perfect scrambling adventure for those who need it. The difficulty is graded at hard, so make sure you watch your step. It’s ledges galore for you to climb, giving you some of the best views of the area.
Time to tie those laces!
Grab those walking boots because you’re all set for your exploration of Ben Nevis. Remember, no matter which route you decide to take, make sure you pack the correct equipment and you’re at the correct hiking ability to enjoy a safe and pleasant walk through the Scottish Highlands.
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