Ben Nevis Guide: Walking It Up Without Preparation

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Do you think about walking up the Ben Nevis? Then you shouldn’t miss this Ben Nevis guide and a stupid but funny experience about it!

Where Is Ben Nevis?

Ben Nevis is located near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. You can reach it by parking at one of the local car parks and follow the Mountain Track to the summit. If your hotel is close you can also just walk there as the start of the track is pretty close to the city.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Ben Nevis?

The duration of walking up the Ben Nevis can be really different. It depends on your walking speed, how many breaks you need and especially on the weather. The day I went there we were facing a snowstorm and needed much longer as usual.

We needed all day, maybe around 10 hours to make the trip. When the weather is good it will be much easier and you can make it around 5 to 7 hours.

Important: Always check the weather forecast and trust it. In our case, the weather forecast told that there will be a rainstorm but we were like “it will be alright”. In the end it’s an experience I can laugh about but it can be really dangerous to hike the mountain with bad weather.

Ben Nevis Routes – The Mountain Track

The route is pretty easy to find. The normal route is called the Mountain track and starts at the Ben Nevis Visitor’s Centre. If you need you can also buy some gear for your trip there. Especially if the weather conditions aren’t promising I recommend doing that.

For the trip you should be prepared. Bring some food, water but also good hiking shoes. The weather in the highlands is usually pretty wet what makes the stones on the way slippy. With normal shoes that can end pretty bad.

So let’s talk about the route. Next to the visitors centre, you will see a bridge that leads over the River Nevis. After you crossed the bridge, turn right and follow the path. There will be signs. Just follow the signs that lead to the Ben Nevis.

The start of the Mountain Track is pretty easy with good terrain for a walk. On the way to the top of Ben Nevis, you will face many signs that lead to a youth hostel. Always double check and don’t take these ways.

The closer you get to the halfway point the terrain is also getting more challenging. You will see a mix of big steps and rocky sections, that can sometimes be pretty hard to pass.

After a while you will reach an important right turn on your way. Don’t miss it! A checkpoint you can use is the lake. The turn is in front of it.

You know you made it halfway when you reach the “Red Burn”. It’s a small waterfall you have to cross. Just follow the path. You can also take your phone and sometimes take a look at Google Maps.

In the summer the way is pretty easy to find so you don’t need guidance from here. In the winter or at bad weather conditions it can be really hard though and I recommend you not to go. Stones are getting wet and slippery and the cliffs are really deep at some parts.

We went in the winter with really bad weather conditions and navigated with Google Maps and some other, more professional hikers, who had GPS, professional equipment and most important – a Guide!

Walking Up The Ben Nevis – My Experience

So let’s come to the best part of this Ben Nevis guide… my experience! Climbing the Ben Nevis was so much harder than I thought and maybe the hardest and craziest day of my life! The weather forecast for the day, me and my best friend planned to go, was really bad. That’s why I wasn’t really excited to go there and first wanted to stay at home.

As we did the trip it was winter though, so it was cold and windy anyway. The day we went it started to rain really heavy in the morning. We left our hotel quite early in the morning and started to walk to the mountain.

I was reading through some websites before and they said you need good equipment and experience to climb that mountain. All I had was some bad, old shoes and an umbrella.

On the way to the mountain the weather was fine and after around 30 minutes we reached the mountain. On the way up it started to rain. But as lucky as I was, I took my umbrella with me. On the way there were many people waling back down. They looked like they gave up…

Ben Nevis Guide Winter Snow

Instead of us, they had really good equipment though. They also told us we couldn’t make it without special equipment and all I had was my umbrella, not even a raincoat… Still, we didn’t give up and followed the track.

We reached half and until here and it wasn’t as hard as expected. But then it started to become really hard. The rainy weather turned into snow and we weren’t able to see the way anymore as it was full of snow.

So what did we do? We were using Google Maps! It wasn’t perfect but it helped us to find the way, even if we got lost sometimes.

I remembered one point where I wasn’t able to pass as my shoes, which were normal shoes and no hiking shoes, were always slipping away. The mountain was really steep at that part and I tried for 10 minutes to pass but it didn’t work.

I became really angry and just wanted to go back but my friend motivated me and 10 minutes later we made it. It was getting really hard as the snow was pretty high and I wasn’t the fittest person on earth, too.

The last part I had to make a break every 50 meters as I was tired as I never was before. But… Yes, we made it! Without gear, without food and in a snow storm! And it felt so good!

After taking a break on the top we were sliding the way back down, at least the first half of the way. It was a bit sad to see that for what we needed 3 hours walking up, we just slided down in a few minutes.

It was a crazy experience and the most exhausting day of my life.

Can You Walk Up Ben Nevis As A Beginner?

Yes, you can! If the weather is good and you have some good hiking shoes it’s really no big deal. But be aware of the changing and often difficult weather conditions on the Ben Nevis! Check the forecast and don’t go if the weather isn’t good!

If you liked this Ben Nevis guide feel free to check out the article Road Trip through the UK.