The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis
The most popular walk up Scotland’s highest mountain from Fort William.
Route Start Location: Ben Nevis Visitor Centre in Ben Nevis
|16.59 km||1356 m||6-7 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Hard Walk
Summits and Places on this Route
The Ben Nevis Visitor Centre has a shop and toilets, and the Ben Nevis Inn is a must stop if you’re descending this way.
Navigation off the summit in mist, coupled with the fact there could well be snow up there well into summer.
Parking : PH33 6ST
At the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre
Some buses in summer up into Glen Nevis.
The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis
Make no mistake that The Mountain track up Ben Nevis , the highest mountain in Scotland and the United Kingdom is going to be a hard walk. No wonder that they renamed the Tourist Path as the Mountain Path, as people were unaware of it’s difficulty. Nevermind that the path sets off up to the summit of a mountain where it’s winter for 9 months of the year, no – if it’s good enough for the tourists it’s good enough for me and my flip flops (and no, that isn’t a Half Man Half Biscuit lyric, though it probably should be!)
The summit of Ben Nevis is also notoriously difficult to navigate off. With the wrong bearing taking you over and into Gardyloo Gully (We’re looking at a national magazine here – Never Forget!)
You can set off up the Ben Nevis Mountain Track from a number of places, with this route detailing the ascent from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre via the Ben Nevis Inn, which is another potential starting point. The other option is to start from the Youth Hostel which joins the Mountain Track slightly higher up.
Ben Nevis Mountain Track Route Description
The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis can be challenging under any conditions and should be treated with respect. With a climb of 1300m from start to finish, that’s much more than most mountain days contain even for seasoned hill walkers. No wonder the novices struggle! It is a relentless pull up, but does open up towards the final section with views across the Mamores and beyond.
1 Starting from the Visitor Centre car park cross the bridge and head on uphill towards the Ben Nevis Inn Path. The Mountain track heads on uphill on a reasonable gradient on the flanks of Meall an t-Suidh. The path from the Glen Nevis YH joins the route at NN133 720 with the path steepening in places afterward and zig zagging as needed.
2 The path eventually begins to contour left and arrives at Lochan Meall an t-Suidh which seems to be one of the accepted stopping spots to recover from the first section. With what lies ahead, you’ll need to rest awhile here!
3 From Lochan Meall an t-Suidh the climbing starts in earnest. With the first zig taking you past a waterfall, you’ll soon be losing track of any land marks along the way, losing count of how many times you’ve zigged, zagged and why you’re not at the summit yet! There’s roughly 600m of climbing on this section, so get your head down and get it out of the way!
4 They eventually relent as you reach the summit plateau, at around the 1200m contour. You’ve got a steadier 1km or so with 150m of climbing before the summit which is practically flat at this point. While you’ve the choice of yet another zig-zag, if you’re anything like us then you’ll just want to take the direct route rather than feeling you’re in the longest post office queue ever. Some sections can be unclear, especially in mist as everything turns grey or if the section’s kept it’s snow into the high season.
5 The Summit of Ben Nevis is eventually reached. The highest point in the UK. There’s a trig point as well as the remains of the Ben Nevis Weather Observatory. See below for images taken in May, a few years apart for a comparison of how much snow can still be here in late spring
6 Getting off the summit of Ben Nevis needs some care in mist – and the best advice is to follow a compass bearing.
According to Walk up Ben Nevis – in order to navigate off the summit in mist you’ll need to :
Take a GRID bearing of 231° and follow it for 150m
Take a GRID bearing of 282° and follow it – you should meet the track (if not be on it already)
NOTE – this is for information only and you should not rely on this information. If you have the required skill, you should be able to take these bearings yourself by using the map once you’re on the summit but it’s handy to note them down as well. The rear of the Harvey BMC mountain map has details on this and some compass skill reminders.