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All the Walking Routes up Ben Nevis

By Dave Roberts   

on October 3, 2017    4.8/5 (15)

Posted as a walk in –

All the Walking Routes up Ben Nevis

Facts and Figures about Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis Facts: 
  • Ben Nevis is the highest summit in Scotland as well as the UK
  • It’s one of the National 3 Peaks along with Scafell Pike and Snowdon
  • Ben Nevis used to be a few metres shorter until it was resurveyed recently.
  • There used to be a weather observatory on the summit, the remains can be seen today.
  • Ben Nevis is the highest of the Munro mountains.
  • It’s climbed by an estimated 150,000 people annually!
  • There’s an annual Ben Nevis Race – the record is a staggering 1hr 25 minutes!
  • Ben Nevis usually has some snow year round – though in small patches. 2017 was the first time it was snow free in 17 years.
Where is Ben Nevis?

Ben Nevis is found in the Highlands of Scotland, above the town of Fort William.

How High is Ben Nevis in metres / feet?
1345 metres or 4409 feet
How long will it take to walk up Ben Nevis ?

Reasonably fit hill walkers should complete it in around 5-6 hours on average by the Mountain Track. Otherwise allow at least 8.

How Far is it to the top of Ben Nevis? 

Around 9km or just over 5 miles from start of the Mountain Track to Ben Nevis’s Summit.

How hard is it to climb Ben Nevis 

Ben Nevis is a tough walk, even if you’re reasonably fit you’ll still need to ensure that you’re hill fit.

What’s the best walking route up Ben Nevis?

Our favourite is the The CMD Arete. This is a wonderful grade 1 scramble, and one of the top mountain days in the entire country.

Which is the easiest walking route up Ben Nevis ?

The Mountain Track – though it’s still a HARD WALK!

Map showing all the routes up Ben Nevis

View the full route map

All the Walking Routes up Ben Nevis Introduction

Ben Nevis  – or Beinn Nibheis is the highest mountain in Scotland (tallest of the Munros, and the UK’s highest peak) and at 1345 metres high it towers over its English and Welsh equivalents. It’s part of the National 3 Peaks along with Scafell Pike and Snowdon. Visit the FAQ on Walk up Ben Nevis for more Ben Nevis Facts.

What pubs are good for Ben Nevis? The Ben Nevis Inn is actually at the beginning of the Mountain Track and our first choice, or you can pop into Fort William and try one of the many pubs there such as the Grog and Gruel.

Recommended Ben Nevis Maps:  Ordnance Survey Explorer 392BMC Ben Nevis and Glen Coe MapLandranger 41

As befits such an illustrious mountain, there are a number of approaches to this summit from straightforward (not easy!) hill walks to pathless ascents, scrambles and climbing. Many sources stick to the tried and tested – there’s two routes to the top of Ben Nevis, but that’s really underselling this marvellous mountain!

The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis

Height Gained – 1370 metres,  Distance – 17km, Time –8 hours.

The Mountain Track used to be called the Tourist Path, but it was renamed as it made the route sound too easy. It starts not far from sea level, so you’re looking at climbing 1300m or so over around 9km one way – making it a tough mountain outing. Not only is it a slog, but you’ll need to be fully aware of how to get off the summit in mist as the wrong bearing takes you over the North Face!

The Carn Mor Dearg Arete and Ben Nevis

Height Gained – 1500 metres,  Distance – 18 km, Time –8 hours+ (Ben Nevis CMDNorth Face Car Park Route)

Also known as the CMD, this is one of the best days out in the UK mountains. It’s a grade 1 scramble, and a straightforward one at that. The ridge is on a huge scale, and doesn’t feel exposed as you would on a scramble such as Crib Goch. Having said that, it’s on a much larger scale and needs to be tackled after a relentless slog up to the ridge that’s not far off 1200m of pure calf-destroying hell.

The usual route is to approach the CMD Arete  from the North Face Car Park near Torlundy. You can even walk up the CMD from Glen Nevis, which involves a river crossing.

The CMD East Ridge offers an alternative route – starting from the Steall Falls car park at the end of Glen Nevis. The walk takes you further up Glen Nevis, towards the Steall Falls and before ascending the pathless Coire Giubhsachan and onwards to the quiet CMD East Ridge.

Ben Nevis via the Ledge Route

Height Gained – 1300 metres,  Distance – 8 km, Time –4-5 hours – ONE WAY ONLY

This is yet another scramble, this time climbing Ben Nevis via the Ledge Route on the North Face and up to Carn Dearg (1221) and along to the summit. The route starts from the CIC Hut and so can be started proper from either Glen Nevis or the North Face Car Park. The route needs to be treated with respect and can have patches of snow into the summer months, but these tend to be easily spotted from below before you set off.

All the Routes up Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis from Steall Falls

Height Gained – 1200 metres,  Distance – 4.4 km, Time –4 hours. ONE WAY ONLY

For those who want something different, you can always ascend Ben Nevis from the south. The direct route from this side is up Carn Dearg (not to be confused with the one to the north!) and make no mistake, is steep! At only 4.4km in length, you’ll ascend a mammoth 1200m over difficult terrain. You’ll be avoiding the crowds, that’s for certain! You can then descend via the southern blunt ridge down towards Bealach Cumhann – with a lot of navigation and care! One for the experienced route finders only!

All the Routes up Ben Nevis

We’ve also created our own website dedicated to Walking up Ben Nevis.

Local Information and Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

Recommended Maps

Ben Nevis Guidebooks:

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Dave Roberts

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