As the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis attracts thousands of people from all over the world, wanting to reach its summit. Here is a complete guide.
How To Get To Ben Nevis
Located in the north west Highlands of Scotland, near the town of Fort William, Ben Nevis is part of the Grampian mountain range.
It is possible to to get a train from Edinburgh or Glasgow directly to Fort William.
Buses run from the main Scottish cities of Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh to Fort William.
A City Link Bus operates from May to the October – check the website for times/dates.
The town of Fort William is on the main A82 coming from the north or south of Scotland.
This town is generally used as a base for the climb up Ben Nevis. It’s approximately 134 miles from Edinburgh, 109 miles from Glasgow and 65 miles from Inverness.
Parking for the Ben Nevis climb is available at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre (formerly called the Glen Nevis visitor Centre). This is approximately 1.5 miles from Fort William. Post code PH33 6PF
The large pay-and-display car park is located directly next to the visitor centre.
The charges are currently £6 per car per day and £10 per motorhome per day.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
Ben Nevis Entrance Fee
It is free to climb Ben Nevis, although you will have to pay for parking.
Ben Nevis Opening Times
Ben Nevis is open all day, every day.
Best Time To Visit Ben Nevis
Climbing the mountain can be dangerous in bad weather so always check the weather conditions before commencing your climb.
If fact, during the winter months and into early summer snow still covers the upper part of the mountain. Thus it is recommended that you have the appropriate equipment and experience to deal with this.
Although the car park at the Visitor Centre is quite large, it does get very busy during the summer months. Therefore, get there early if wanting to avoid crowds and get a parking space.
We actually parked nearby for free, at the end of Achintee Road near the Ben Nevis Inn. Parking spaces here are limited but the path from here joins up with the path from the Visitor Centre.
Alternatively, if you are based in Fort William, you could walk the 1.7 miles to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre.
It took us 5/6 hours to get to the top and back and an average climb can take 7/8 hours. Therefore, make sure you are well prepared with layers of warm, wind and waterproof clothing including hat and gloves.
As well as appropriate clothing, you will also need good footwear for the rough and sometimes slippery terrain. As well as some high energy snacks and plenty of fluids.
What To Pack
Ben Nevis History
Ben Nevis gets its name from the Gaelic name Beinn Nibheis. Beinn meaning ‘mountain’ and Nibheis translating, as some say, to ‘venomous’ or ‘malicious’.
Ben Nevis is actually the remains of a massive volcano that met a violent end around 350 million years ago. There is evidence to show that the volcano collapsed in on itself creating a monumentous explosion.
The mountain is now all that is left of the imploded inner dome of the volcano. Subsequently shaped, over many years, by glaciation.
The first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis was by botanist, James Robertson, in August 1771. He was looking for botanical specimens.
Following this, in 1774, John Williams provided the first account of the mountain’s geological structure.
Ben Nevis Visitor Centre
Opened in 1993, Ben Nevis Visitor Centre (formerly called Glen Nevis Visitor Centre) is the starting point for many climbers. The centre is open between the hours of 8am and 4pm every day.
I would definitely recommend calling in here to check out all the free information and advice available. This will give you a good idea of what is ahead of you and what resources you will need.
The centre staff are also happy to help with any questions you may have about your climb up Ben Nevis. Furthermore, and most importantly, you can get an up-to-date weather check for Ben Nevis.
The weather can vary drastically, so it’s a good idea to check this before setting off. Not only can it make for a less enjoyable experience, poor weather conditions can make the climb dangerous.
There are public toilets available at the visitor centre when it is open.
What To Expect When Climbing Ben Nevis
Situated at the western end of the Grampian Mountains, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. The summit sits at 4,413 ft (1,345 m) above sea level.
Hence, it attracts thousands of visitors every year, from all over the world. All wanting to be able to say they have reached the summit of this impressive mountain.
The two main walking routes up Ben Nevis are the Mountain Track (sometimes called the Tourist Track or the Pony Track) and the Carn More Dearg Arete route.
Most walkers take the Mountain Track route, whilst the other, more challenging, route is usually taken by experienced mountain climbers. Although,for novice mountain climbers, the Mountain Track can still be somewhat challenging.
We took the Mountain Track and for the first half of the climb followed the clearly marked path. This path is made up of gravel, rocks and steps, taking you up to a loch at approximately half way.
The second part of the hike was a little trickier, with the path not always easy to follow. There were lots of rocks and sometimes even boulders to get past.
The climb can get quite tough and you are exposed to the elements, with the weather sometimes changing very quickly.
We did pass lots of people, of all abilities, climbing up and down. Most of whom had encouraging words for everyone, especially those that looked like they might be struggling.
At the summit you will see a cairn that marks the highest point of Ben Nevis. Moreover, on a clear day, you will be rewarded with stunning, 360 degree panoramic views as far as Northern Ireland!
Unfortunately, as well as being very cold, the summit is very often covered with cloud, thus denying you the breathtaking views.
However, it is an incredible climb with spectacular views all the way. Moreover, the feeling of achievement when you reach the top is definitely worth the effort!
Where To Stay In Scotland
Offering free WiFi and free private parking, exploreNESS Apartment is located in Inverness, just 0.8 miles from Inverness Castle.
The property is less than 0.6 miles from Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and 1.6 miles from Caledonian Thistle.
The apartment features 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 1 bathroom with a shower. Towels and bed linen are provided.
A buffet breakfast is available daily at the apartment.
Located 1.7 miles from Inverness Castle, Loch Earn provides accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking.
There is also a kitchen in some of the units with a dishwasher, a fridge, and an oven.
A continental breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast.
Guests can relax in the garden at the property.
Just 10 minutes’ walk from Inverness Rail Station, Inverness Youth Hostel offers free private parking and bicycle storage.
Eastgate shopping centre is a 10-minute walk from this hostel. Hootananny, a popular music venue, is just 15 minutes’ walk away.
Culloden Battlefield and its visitor centre is just a 10-minute drive away. The banks of Loch Ness and the country village of Dores are both a 20-minute drive away.
All rooms have a shared bathroom. Packed lunch and luggage storage is available on request.
For more places to stay in Scotland, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.