Scotland: Ben Nevis from Glen Nevis return 17 km

Big Ben II…  Ben Nevis, the highest mountain (ehh.. hill) in Britain calls for conquering. For me. Good Mrs had other plans.

Early start as Arrochar Hotel where Good Mrs and I stayed was 90 minutes drive away from the trail head. Then the Mountain Trail up Ben Nevis takes somewhere between 5 and 9 hours. Depending on where you read and who you believe.

By 8.15am I was ready to hike from Glen Nevis Visitors Centre just outside Fort William. Ready to set off with boots, beanie, gloves and of course my new LL Bean jacket. It will be the first roadtest for the jacket in a “serious” climate. A before photo…

The mandatory “kick off” sign…

The experience didn’t start well. Look at the photo below to see what I had just in front of me. Bloody rush hour…

I soon overtook the groups as the “lowest common denominator” always rule. And there is always one or three…

It continued to be busy on the track but not as bad as above and the further I hiked, the less people I saw. Funny that.

The track soon started to go up, up, up, up, up… You get the picture. The climb was relentless and no break from the ascending at all, as the hike climbs more than 1,000m.

A couple of track pics…

Self portrait. Yep, it got colder and windier the further up I hiked.

Sort of a third up or so, there is a loch next to the trail. Not much around it though, but it looked nice.

And we continue up… Ben Nevis is up there and behind somewhere.

The green soon gave way to rocks… And more rocks… And…

A view between the frequent clouds towards Fort William during a temporary clearing. The town is down there to the left somewhere.

Parts of the Ben Nevis track had proper stone steps, but what you see below was an exception.

This was more the norm of the track. The higher up I hiked, the more misty and cloudy it became. I took the next two photos from the same spot and shows the track in both directions.

One way…

… And the other…

Cairns started to appear… Even though it was cloudy this day, I was certain that it could get a lot lot worse. The cairns are necessary for track location and would be well received by hikers.

After little more than 3 hours, I arrived at the Ben Nevis plateau, the end of the line. I found the top a bit disappointing, more rocks, ruined buildings and the only marker was the one that I am next to below.

Well, this is the tallest point in Great Britain. 1344 metres above sea level.

And this is how it looked around there… There were even a few flakes of snow dancing around in the air (and today was the last day of summer).

The “view” from the top… Ehhh…?

Unexpected at the top of Ben Nevis was this storm shelter. I climbed up to have a look inside and it seemed that it fitted at least 4 people. Wonder how often people use it to seek shelter from the elements…

This plaque dated 1965 appeared to be a memorial for UN peacekeepers. Why here…?

Not only hikers found their way to the top of Ben Nevis. Three bikers were there as well when I arrived. The guys stayed a bit longer than my 20 minutes there so later the bikers bypassed me.

Gotta admire the guys. This is seriously tough biking terrain.

The Ben Nevis climb seemed to attract a diverse number of people. This lady in front hiked in what looked like a set of pyjamas. Or maybe she just wanted to be sure to be found if she got lost.

One guy was hiking without a shirt. Another hiker looked like a skinhead with black pants, black singlet and shaved head. Sorry, no pictures of either of them.

After some descent and below the clouds, it got warmer (well, a little less nippy) and cleared up. Good views.

A final selfie…

Coming down was easy and fast apart from paying attention to where I put my feet on the rocks. The full descent took around 2 hours and 15 minutes including breaks.

I arrived back at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre’s parking lot at 2pm almost on the dot. Good Mrs was already there and after a short break, we left the area.

A couple of final notes:

  • There were quite a few Muslims on the trail. Youngish people, blokes with bushy beards and girls covered up in traditional gear. I don’t know why hiking Ben Nevis would appeal to so many of them.
  • I got rained on 3 times, perhaps 15-30 minutes each time. Light rain so manageable
  • My clothes worked fine for the hike and its varying temperatures and conditions. Except for the gloves which attracted moisture and made the fingers and hands cold and red. My face and the nose took also a beating from the strong winds up there.

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