Guide to Climbing Ben Nevis

Climbing Ben Nevis - Introduction

If you are looking to Climb Ben Nevis then this is the Blog for You... This Blog on Ben Nevis have been provided to give you every bit of information you will need to know when climbing Ben Nevis.

Where Is Ben Nevis?


Ben Nevis is a Mountain that is located in the Uk specifically Scotland. Its found in the mid west of Scotland within the Highlands and 1.5 miles from Fort William, it is part of the Nevis range within the Grampians Mountains in Scotland.

Above is an image that locates where Ben Nevis is in the Uk.  You can check on google Maps how long it will take you to get to Ben Nevis from your location.  

How Can I Get To Ben Nevis?

There are Many ways you can get to Ben Nevis, however it all depends on where you are based. if you live within the Uk and are not immeditaly local to Ben Nevis the easiest option would be to drive. Below are the different transport options on how to get to the base of the mountain.

- Car 

The Nearest Locations you can get to climbing Ben Nevis by car is the Glen Nevis Visitors centre - PH33 6PF  or the North Face car park - PH33 6SR depending on which route you are planning on climbing. 

- Train 

If you are travelling by train the nearest train station to Ben Nevis is in Fort William. You could get a Taxi from the train station to one of the car parks, or you can walk. The Glen Nevis visitors centre is a 1.8 mile walk from the station whereas the North face car park is a 4 mile walk. There is also Banavie station which is slightly closer to the North face Car park which is 3.4 miles away. If you do not live locally it is recommend to find a place to stay overnight, there are lots of places to stay in the immediate area. 

- Plane 

If you are coming from overseas you will be most likely be travelling by plane. It is suggest that you land in one of Scotlands most popular airports which are Inverness (74.3 Miles) Glasgow (99.2 Miles) Edinburgh (126 Miles) From the airport you will be able to catch a train to Fort William train station. Alternativly you will be able to catch a coach from the airports to Fort William. 

How High Is Ben Nevis?


1345 m

Ben Nevis is The Uk,s Highest mountain standing at 1345m (4,413 ft). The summit of Ben Nevis is the highest bit of land in any direction for 459 Miles.

How long does it take to walk up and down Ben Nevis?

The time it will take you to climb Ben Nevis will vary depending on your level of fitness and which route you decide to take up the mountain.


Mountain Track Route

Distance - 17km / 10.5 miles

Time - 7 - 9 hours on average it will take 4 hours on the way up and 3 hours on the way down.

Ascent - 1352m  

CMD Route


Distance - 17.5km / 11 miles

Time - 10 - 11 hours on average it will take 6 hours on the way up and 4 hours on the way down.

Ascent - From the start point your ascent will  be 1506m 

How Many Routes are there up Ben Nevis?

As Mentioned above their are two main routes up Ben Nevis, there is the more popular Mountain Track which is an easier route up the mountain, then there is the CMD Route which is a harder route and more of a scramble towards the end. Detailed below are the stages of routes up Ben Nevis

Mountain Track Route

The Mountain Track Route described here is the most popular and easiest way up the mountain. This route is pretty straight forward and not much navigation skills are needed at all on a clear day.

Terrain on the Mountain Track Route - The Mountain Track is a steep path throughout. The upper section is rough and has a light scree path, it can often be snow covered and losing the line of the path can be fairly common - navigational skills are needed When climbing near the top of this route.

Stage 1

📸 @sanitatr 

To begin the walk Cross the new bridge over the River Nevis from the visitors centre and then turn right and briefly follow the river bank before turning left at a sign, head up the path between a wall and a fence. Keep on this track until you meet the path from the Ben Nevis Inn.  turn right up the rising path. 

Stage 2


Follow the wide path which climbs across the hillside. After passing above a small plantation the path from Glen Nevis Youth Hostel joins in from the right. Further on the path doubles back on itself to ascend the steeper, rockier slopes in a wide zigzag.

Stage 3


Later on, this path crosses a couple of footbridges over small streams, at the top of the valley the path takes a very sharp left turn, The path winds up to reach the plateau that holds Loch Meall an t-Suidhe, known as the half way lochan. 

Stage 4


The walk doesn't approach the actual loch though, keeping well to the right. As the path begins to climb once more, a junction is reached. Turn right (the path keeping left heads round below the North Face of Ben Nevis). After another half kilometre the path crosses a small waterfall. The path is good at this stage. 

Stage 5


After a couple more bends  the path becomes much rougher. a well-worn route through the boulders and scree, climbing relentlessly in a series of very wide zigzags. .Higher up, the path passes above the steep screes which falls to the right into the head of Five Finger Gully. 

Stage 6


The gradient now eases as the beginning of the summit plateau is reached. The path passes close to the top of Tower gully, and, just before the summit, the vertigo-inducing top of Gardyloo gully. The summit area has several memorials, and trig points., The Decent of this route is exactly the same as the acsent. 

Mountain Track

CMD Route 

The CMD Route is the less common route up Ben Nevis, this route contains the summit of Carn Mor dearg arete and a grade 1 scramble up to the north face of Ben Nevis.

Terrain on the CMD Route - The CMD Route has a well established mountain path for much of the route. The CMD route gets more difficult when traversing the arete. This part of the route is a long but easy scramble. 

Stage 1

📸 @lucycatmoore

Park at the North Face car park, Begin by heading along the track, over a bridge. When the track bends left, turn right on a path, (there is a sign post for Ben Nevis) Go straight ahead uphill and keep right to stay on the main path at a fork.  At the next junction follow right, sign posted (North Face and CIC hut) . A track is reached at a bend, with a bridge on the right - go straight ahead and up the track. At the next track junction, turn right, now with stunning views of Ben Nevis ahead.

Stage 2


At the top of the track cross the stile and follow the path as it continues up to the left of the Allt a'Mhuillin, with the north face of the Ben Nevis drawing ever closer. a boggy path forks off to the left; turn up this path which begins the long ascent to Carn Mor Dearg.  The path improves as height is gained.

Stage 3


Higher up the path cuts across the southern slope of Carn Beag Dearg, From here Carn Mor Dearg will be a pointed peak in the distance along the scamble,  Continue along the ridge to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg.  

Stage 4


Once at the summit you will see the arete that leads around to Ben Nevis in a curve. This is the Carn Mor Dearg Arete; Follow this ridge towards the summit. Near the end the route to the summit plateau is a steep climb up boulders with some sections of winding scree. The summit plateau is reached suddenly. To Descend you can go back the way you came or follow the mountain track down to Lochan Meall an t'Suidhe. Just before the Loch there should be a path going off to the right, follow this path back to the North Face car park.

CMD Route

How Hard is it to Climb Ben Nevis?

Both of the ascents of Ben Nevis are fairly straightforward and on a clear day should be quite easy to navigate and climb, Both routes are considerably long and start almost from sea level with the ascent being over 1300m. The mountain track route does not require advanced hill-walking  experience however  it does require a fair level of fitness. The CMD Route is a harder climb and a decent level of skill and hiking experience is needed due to the long scramble at the end. Although this route can be just as physically strenuous as the mountain track route.

Which Route up Ben Nevis Should I Take?

For both of these routes you will need an ample amount of physical fitness they are not much different from one another the ascent is near enough the same on both. 

If you are not experienced in climbing navigating or hiking it is best you take the Mountain track to the top of Ben Nevis. This is because it is a straight forward path for most the way up and it is the most popular so you are able to follow crowds of people. Minor navigation skills will be needed near the top when conditions are bad. 

The CMD route is more challenging and more navigational skills and general hill walking experience is needed due to the scramble at the end. You do not need to be extremely experienced at either of these at all but you will need to know enough to be able to saftly get yourself to the summit and back down escpecially in bad conditions.

What Is The Weather Like On Ben Nevis?

The Weather conditions on Ben Nevis can be unpredictable, this is due to its latitude and arctic conditions almost all year round. So you should be aware that weather conditions on Ben Nevis can change rapidly and often for the worst. A good day at sea level is no guarantee of good weather on the mountain! You should Be safe and prepared before climbing. 

Before going to climb Ben Nevis you can check the forecast on the Met Office, (make sure you check the weather for Ben Nevis and not Fort William)

Although the weather may chop and change, Ben Nevis Does get hotter in the summer and colder in the winter, Below is a table of the average temperature on Ben Nevis during the year. The Top numbers are the highest average and the bottom are the lowest.

Average Temperature

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
-1°C -1°C 0°C 2°C 5°C 7°C
-6°C -5°C -5°C -3°C 0°C 2°C
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
9°C 8°C 7°C 3°C 1°C 0°C
4°C 4°C 2°C -1°C -3°C -5°C
This Table is a rough Guide for Pre planning, Please check the weather before you start your climb on Ben Nevis.

What is the best month to Climb Ben Nevis?

The Best Month to climb Ben Nevis depends on what you want to experience when climbing Ben Nevis.  For example If you would like to climb Ben Nevis on a hotter/clearer day then in the Mid summer would be the best time to climb, you can locate the tables on the average sunlight hours and  the average temperature during the year on Ben Nevis, These two tables may give you a rough idea on what month you will want to climb Ben Nevis. 

You may also want to know what the most popular month is to climb Ben Nevis to either avoid or join the many people who climb the mountain each year. The most popular time to climb Ben Nevis is usually during the summer, With the Winter being the more quieter times due to the worse conditions on the mountain.

What is the best time to Climb Ben Nevis?

The best time to climb Ben Nevis will depend on the season you are climbing in and what you want to experience when climbing. Below is a table on the average sunrise and sunset times during the year.  When you go to book your trip please check the weather. The table is a rough guide so you can estimate what time you would like to climb.

Average Total Sunlight

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
08:40 07:45 06:35 06:00 05:10 04:35
16:20 17:20 18:40 20:45 21:30 22:10
7h 40m 9h 45m 12h 05m 14h 45m 16h 20m 17h 35m
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
04:45 05:40 07:00 07:50 08:30 08:45
21:50 21:00 19:45 19:30 16:25 15:45
17h 05m 15h 20m 12h 45m 11h 40m 7h 55m 7h 00m
This Table is a rough Guide for Pre planning, Please check the weather before you start your climb on Ben Nevis.

Do i need to know how to Navigate?

The Mountain Track is reasonably easy to follow on a clear day, however it is highly recommended that you know how to navigate your way up and know how to map read, You should bring a map and compass with you in case conditions take a turn for the worse. It is essential that you know how to navigate up the CMD route, and bring a map and compass.

What do i need to bring up Ben Nevis?

The ideal kit list when climbing Ben Nevis will vary slightly depending on what season you are climbing in, in the winter you will need warmer clothes and base layers etc, however the essentials will pretty much stay the same.

Warm and waterproof clothing

These items are essential all year round due to the temperamental conditions on Ben Nevis, in the summer it may be hot at the base the the conditions will get slightly cooler and could become drastically worse at the the top, due to this make sure you bring waterproofs and warm clothing up with you.

A pair of good walking boots

You will need a pair of decent walking boots regardless of the weather or temperature when climbing Ben Nevis.

Useful Hiking Equipment

You will need to bring essential bits of hiking equipment when climbing Ben Nevis. These items consist of a map, compass, torch, whistle and first Aid Kit. You can also bring trekking poles, however they are not essential.

Food and Water

Ben Nevis is a long days hike regardless of which route you are taking so it is a must that you bring plenty of food and drink with you when climbing. you MUST take your litter down the mountain with you!


Day Kit

Where can i get supplies from?

There are local shops in Fort William where you will be able to get a supplies from such as basic hiking gear, food and water. The Glen Nevis Visitors centre also have items you can purchase just before your Climb.

Is Ben Nevis suitable for children to climb?

Ben Nevis is suitable for children, as long as they are prepared for all weather conditions and keen for a challenge. The Carn Mor Dearg Arete route is generally not advised for children. 

Is Ben Nevis suitable for dogs to climb?

Ben Nevis is suitable for dogs if your dog enjoys long walks. It is advised to keep your dog on a lead especially when paths get busy.. There are some parts of Ben Nevis that have uneven terrain and this may be tricky for some dogs. 

Can i camp on Ben Nevis?

Camping on Ben Nevis is not advisable. The summit of Ben Nevis is exposed and can be very dangerous, There are also a lot of walkers during the summer, and pitching a tent would be difficult due to the uneven terrain. 

There is a camping location at the Glen Nevis campsite at the foot of Ben Nevis this is a handy and convinient place to camp.

Can I do a guided walk up Ben Nevis?

Yes there are guided tours available if you are uncomfortable going on your own or just want to learn more about Ben Nevis and the surrounding area. There are companies and their tours listed on Visit Fort William

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Guide to Climbing Ben Nevis created


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