Have you ever hiked to the highest point in Britain?
Climbing Ben Nevis blog
Sleeping on a rock solid surface in a leaky tent in chilly Scottish “summer” conditions at the foot of the UK’s highest mountain is probably not top of the list when you imagine the travel of your dreams. But if you’re into the outdoors, have a taste for adventure, appreciate world class views and don’t mind roughing it a bit, climbing Ben Nevis could be the ideal day trip for you.
Ben Nevis and its 4400 feet takes about 9 hours up and down if you go at a leisurely pace. To get the best from it, it’s a good idea to get in an early start, have lunch on the way up and be back down for dinner. If, like me, you’re into camping then it’s a lot of fun (as well as being a good budget option) to pitch a tent in one of the campsites at the foot of the mountain. This is also ideal for getting off to a quick start in the morning. Alternatively you could find somewhere in nearby Fort William to spend the night. There’s not a huge amount to do in the town, but it’s pleasant enough and is only around 80 miles north of Glasgow. There are so many peaks in the area that you could spend several days exploring by using Fort William as your base.
To climb Ben Nevis may take a long time but it is relatively gradual and the throngs of hikers climbing with you ensures that you don’t get lost or bored. Like all of the Bens, Nevis is a hugely more impressive experience on a clear and sunny day. When I climbed it in July, we were incredibly fortunate to get blue skies and the brisk temperatures actually made the walk that bit more pleasurable. I love company on a climb and having friends along adds to the joy of it. In terms of fitness levels, moderate stamina will do you fine unless you’re planning on making it a race.
The views get better and better as you climb and there’s plenty of vantage points to stop and take it all in as you look down over Scotland. The actual summit is a nice treat as it is often shrouded in mist (and in our case covered in snow). A small settlement exists on the plateau at the summit that includes a memorial to World War II veterans and the ruins of an old observatory.
Dress sensibly (ie. expect rain) with sturdy walking boots as the path can get rocky. Pack lots of food and water, look out your best camera and prepare for one of the best climbs around. If you are looking for natural beauty, outdoor adventure and a feel good day, the Scottish Highlands will take some beating. Where better to start than Ben Nevis?
You can also plan your walk with my mapped guide to climbing Ben Nevis.