Ben Nevis

  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Looking north west from near the top plateau, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis in background, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, From Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Summit of Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis Ice Formation, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, View From 2/3 of the way up towards Fort William , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Snow line , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, The Summit , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, From Ben Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, early on, over lower Glen Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Approaching the saddle, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Back onto lower Glen Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Entering the snowline, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Summit - back down the high rocky top, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, The great northern cliff-tops, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, , Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis fm Glen Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis fm upper Glen Nevis, Walkopedia
  • United Kingdom Scotland SW Highlands, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis from the sea, Walkopedia

Key information: Ben Nevis

  •  Not Britain's loveliest or most interesting mountain - but the biggest, so it attracts huge numbers of climbers.
  • A serious mountains, with always unpredictable weather. Come prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest15
  • Human interest7
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating84
  • Note: Neg: popularity, regular bad weather

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 5-8hrs
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,345m/4,413ft
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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Ben Nevis: From Ben Nevis - © Camilla Beazley

WALK SUMMARY

Ben Nevis is not Britain's loveliest or most interesting mountain - but it is the biggest, so attracts something like 170,000 climbers a year (as of 2019).

This vast granite lump looms over Fort William. It is said to have been at the heart of a huge ancient volcano, and it's solidifying and contraction will have caused a collapse and therefore  caldera above it - once upon a time: the softer rocks around it have long eroded, leaving it standing proud and clear above Loch Linnhe.

The Ben Nevis massif forms a huge horseshoe of Munroes and vast crags around the profound glacial gouge of its northern corrie. Its southern and western flanks - the ones you see most of, and the ones you climb - are long, grey, steep, dour slopes, much of them scree and boulder.

The main path approaches from Achintee farm in lower Glen Nevis. A long, steady slog up across the steep slopes of the whaleback of Meall an t Suidhe and up a narrow gap gets you to a somehow surprising saddle, with a lochan in its flattish bottom. 

From here, a series of long switchbacks takes you up the endless scree, rock and boulder slope of its south-western corner to its grey, flattish, rocky summit. This is somehow a bit of an anticlimax until you reach its northern edges and peer over the precipices. The views from the peak are, however, amazing on a clear day, across the sparkling sea lochs to the south-west and, if you are lucky, to the rival summits of the Cairngorms.

This is a long and demanding climb, with an altitude gain and loss of some 1,300m. Ben Nevis has notoriously fickle and bad weather, and conditions on top can be appalling. People die up here, and it is easy to lose your way in cloud. Always come fully prepared and don't attempt the climb unless you are fit enough. Be prepared to abandon the attempt if circumstances change.

A wonderful descent route (or indeed an excellent if longer alternative climb) is via the Allt a Mhuillinn canyon-valley, which runs straight down from the northern corrie. A wonderful path from the saddle traverses around the base of the northern cliffs, deep into the heart of the corrie, where it meets a small hut and where you can gawp at the ring of amazing cliffs and crags above you. You then descend steadily by the burn, to emerge at the local distillery, or near Torlundy. This would make a fantastic walk in its own right, if the summit is not going to happen for whatever reason.

Find relevant books on  Amazon.

For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Ben Nevis and Glen Coe Area page.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Ben Nevis: The great northern cliff-tops - © Eugene Leung

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS

Name: James Kerr
Posted on: 22/12/2011
Walked up Ben Nevis this summer - wonderful walk with terrific views, marred mainly by the popularity of the walk. I estimated that there were in the region of 100 other walkers on the mountain possibly more. It is an ideal charity walk as it easily accessible but there is a degree of strenuousness to make it a challenge. Us two nearly 60 years olds made it up and down in seven hours, this included twenty minutes for lunch at the top. Take several layers of clothing as we encountered conditions from balmy summer at the start to mid winter on the top. We even had to lend a spare wind proof to one idiot dressed in a football strip with only a back bin liner for protection ! James Kerr


Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

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Ben Nevis: Back onto lower Glen Nevis - © Eugene Leung

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Ben Nevis: From Ben Nevis - © By Flickr user LawMurray...
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