Ben Nevis Hike: Scale Britain’s Highest Mountain

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Ben Nevis Hike: Scale Britain’s Highest Mountain
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With its green hills, fierce weather, whisky distilleries and characterful villages, the Scottish Highlands spark the imagination of many travelers. What’s a better way to experience this magical region than climbing its tallest peak, Ben Nevis! It is in fact the highest mountain in Great Britain and attracts thousands of hiking enthusiasts each year. That doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park. The hike starts pretty much at sea level and you really have to work hard to earn your views from the summit (weather permitting!).

We created what may be the best short trek in Scotland. The combination of the final stage on the West Highland Way and the Ben Nevis hike is a guarantee for a true Scottish hiking experience. Join us for an epic adventure in the rugged hills of Scotland. Fáilte!

Where Is Ben Nevis?

Ben Nevis is located in the western Highlands of Scotland, also known as the Grampian Mountains. At the base of the mountain is Fort William, the main town in this part of the country called Lochaber. The famous West Highland Way runs along the foot of the mountain in Glen Nevis. The mountain is about 180 km north of Glasgow and 230 km from Edinburgh. Below is an overview of how to get to Fort William, the starting point for climbs up Ben Nevis.

The biggest airports in Scotland are Edinburgh and Glasgow (there are actually two airports in Glasgow). Both airports are well-served by many airlines around the globe. Glasgow is the best choice as there are direct connections from here to Fort William.

By car

From both Glasgow and Edinburgh it’s a 2hr30min / 3hr drive to Fort William via the A82. The winding roads make the journey relatively time consuming, but it’s a great drive.

By bus

There are many direct express buses from Glasgow that start at Buchanan Street. Take either the 914, 915 or 916 services. From Edinburgh it’s faster to take the train.

By train

From the train station Queen Street in Glasgow hop on the direct Scotrail service to Mallaig and get off at Fort William. The journey takes around 4 hours and is one of the most scenic train rides in the UK, slicing right through the Scottish Highlands. If you come from Edinburgh you need to take the train to Glasgow Queen Street and change there.

Where Is Ben Nevis?

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Is The Hike Up Ben Nevis Difficult?

Ben Nevis is a huge mountain and there are several routes up the mountain. The absolute majority of the 130,000 hikers who attempt Ben Nevis on an annual basis take the Mountain Path, aka the Tourist Path. The name Tourist Path is somewhat misleading. Although technically the trail is straightforward and in reasonable condition, it is a big slog. The path is steep and it’s a continuous ascent all the way to the summit, a 1320m climb in total. Perhaps the hardest part is the descent, a real knee battering exercise. It takes an average person around 9 hours to complete the hike. Throw in some typical Scottish weather and things can get very uncomfortable.

For those (experienced) hikers looking for a challenge, there’s an epic hike from the northside of the Ben, the Càrn Mòr Dearg Arete or CMD Arete. This is one of the classic ridge walks in Scotland, with sheer drops on either side of the ridge. The views of the north face of Ben Nevis are truly impressive and you may encounter just a handful of other hillwalkers. To most hiker’s standards this walk would be considered difficult.

And then there’s the back of the Ben, a 700 meter near vertical rock face that serves as a playground for rock climbers and alpinists alike. The most famous routes are Ledge Route and Tower Ridge, which require climbing equipment. At the base of the North Face is the CIC hut, from where most climbers start their ascents.

So can we classify Ben Nevis as difficult? The Mountain Path is tough but not difficult. All the other routes are considered difficult. The choice is yours!

Is The Hike Up Ben Nevis Difficult?

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the West Highland Way with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

Ben Nevis And The Scottish Munros

A Munro is a Scottish mountain with an altitude of 3000 feet (or roughly 914 meters) or higher. It is named after Sir Hugh Munro, who identified the 3000ft+ hills in the 19th century. There are 282 munros and it’s a hillwalker’s ultimate challenge to bag all of them. It takes most munro baggers a lifetime to climb them all, but there are superhumans that tick a round of munros off in as little as 32 days! Less than 8000 people have done it so far, known as compleators. Here’s the top 5 of the Scottish Munros, which happen to be the only hills that exceed 4000 feet.

1. Ben Nevis: 1344 meters / 4409 feet

2. Ben Macdui: 1309 meters / 4295 feet

3. Braeriach: 1296 meters / 4252 feet

4. Cairn Gorm: 1245 meters / 4085 feet

5. Càrn Mòr Dearg: 1223 meters / 4012 feet

Ben Nevis is the highest Munro. And it is not surprising that mountain runners are trying to set the fastest time possible. The current fastest known time (FKT) is 1hr25min34sec on the 14 km return route with 1320 vertical meters of ascent and descent.

Ben Nevis And The Scottish Munros

Ben Nevis Hike Map

In this Komoot collection you can have a look at the trail beta for the 2-day trek to Britain's highest peak.

Ben Nevis Summit Hike

This 2-day trek is perfect for a long weekend, even if you have to come from other parts of Europe. We make sure you start the trek well-rested and end the trek in comfort with accommodation before and after the hike. And we'll make sure your luggage is transported while you're on the trail.

Arrival in Kinlochleven

After the very scenic journey through the Scottish Highlands you arrive in Kinlochleven, your sweet spot for the night.

West Highland Lodge (Kinlochleven)

West Highland Lodge (Kinlochleven)

Kinlochleven - Glen Nevis

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 20.9 km
Ascent: 520 m
Descent: 510 m
The first stage starts with a steep climb from Kinlochleven. Ahead of you is Lairigmor, also known as The Great Pass. The trail follows the valley as it curves north, leads you through forests and then takes you to Glen Nevis. The route then continues through forest plantations. Before finding your place for the night, you can visit the remains of Dun Deardail, an Iron Age fort in Glen Nevis. You stay right on the foot of the mighty Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Great Britain.

Glen Nevis Youth Hostel

Glen Nevis Youth Hostel

Glen Nevis - Fort William via Ben Nevis Summit

Duration: 09:20 h
Distance: 15.9 km
Ascent: 1320 m
Descent: 1320 m
The climb up and down Ben Nevis is a big one, no matter what route you take to the 1344m high summit. From Glen Nevis there's an excellent trail winding its way to the highest point in the British Isles. As you get higher the landscape opens up, with (if you're lucky) great views across the Grey Corries and Loch Linnhe. For the descent you backtrack your steps to Glen Nevis and walk downstream to Fort William, the outdoor capital of the UK.

The Imperial Hotel (Fort William)

The Imperial Hotel (Fort William)

Departure Fort William

Today you say goodbye to Fort William and travel onwards to your next destination.
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At, we not only book your accommodation and luggage transport, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your West Highland Way, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

When Is The Best Season For Climbing Ben Nevis?

The best season to climb Ben Nevis is typically during late spring to early autumn, roughly from May to September. During this period, the weather is generally milder, and there's less chance of encountering snow and ice on the summit. However, even during these months, weather conditions on Ben Nevis can change rapidly, so hikers should always be prepared for sudden changes and check the forecast before attempting the climb. If you want to avoid the crowds, you may want to go earlier in spring and later in autumn. You can ascend Ben Nevis in winter, but you have to keep in mind that at least a part of the trail is likely covered in snow and ice. Even on the easiest route, the Mountain Path, you need crampons and walking axe as there are some steeper drops next to the path. Proper winter climbing on Ben Nevis is also possible on the north face but requires specialized climbing equipment and mountaineering skills due to the harsh conditions and increased risk of avalanches.

When Is The Best Season For Climbing Ben Nevis?

Safety On Ben Nevis

The hills in Scotland are small compared to the mountains in the Alps and the Himalayas. It’s easy to underestimate them and each year hikers throughout Scotland get themselves in serious trouble because they venture into the hills underprepared. On Ben Nevis there will always be people heading up on flip flops and shorts, unaware of the potential severity of the terrain and weather. In many ways the terrain in the Scottish hills are more challenging than the Alps for two main reasons. First, the weather conditions. The west coast gets battered by storms on a regular basis, with wind speeds that exceed 100 km/h. Throw in low temperatures and rain and sleet and the chance of hypothermia is real. Second, navigation. Many routes in Scotland are not waymarked and you need to navigate your way on the trails with a navigation app, such as Komoot. But phone batteries may die or it rains heavily, making it impossible to see your screen. Therefore you also need to bring a topographic map and compass and make sure you know how to use it. Navigating with bright blue skies is fairly easy, but when the visibility has reduced to 10 meters or less you need to know how to find your way in the hills. Even if these are waymarked, such as the path on Ben Nevis.

How do you prepare yourself for Ben Nevis? The most important thing is to bring the right equipment. Essential items include a breathable waterproof jacket and trousers, map and compass and good quality walking boots. Many hillwalkers in the UK carry a bothy bag, which is basically a huge plastic bag for hikers to shelter themselves from wind and rain. More on what to pack in the Packing List chapter. Before you hit the trail it’s a good idea to study your route and visualize what to expect along the way. This enables you to anticipate mentally and you can act swiftly on changing circumstances. Make sure you buy the right map(s) and learn / practice using a map and compass. Our hiking guide will provide you with the Komoot routes and a list of emergency numbers.

Safety On Ben Nevis

Packing List for the West Highland Way

No matter where you go hiking or for how long, bringing the right equipment is of utmost importance. For your hike, the first thing you need is a good backpack. The size of it will depend on the number of days you will be trekking, the season and the clothes you take with you. If you have luggage transport, the comfort level of your daypack is most important. We have compiled a packing list with a few essential items of clothing you should bring and some extras you might find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

West Highland Way 6660

Where Can I Book the West Highland Way?

At you can book the self-guided West Highland Way and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations, organizing luggage transportation and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the West Highland Way not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:


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