Do you want to do an exciting challenge where you can enjoy a beautiful landscape? If so, then the Ben Nevis hike is something for you. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland, and it offers hikers some stunning views. In this blog post, we will provide a detailed guide on how to hike Ben Nevis. We will explain everything that you need to know before starting out, including what equipment you will need and how to prepare for the hike.
Ben Nevis hike general information
Ben Nevis is located at the western end of Scotland’s Great Glen. It stands at 1,345 meters (4409 feet) above sea level, making it the highest mountain in Britain. The Ben Nevis hike is a popular route and requires some basic mountaineering skills; however, there are also guided walks available if you’d prefer. In this Ben Nevis guide, we explain the Ben Nevis mountain path that is the most popular and common one to do.
It is important to know that the top of Ben Nevis mountain is only visible an average of 30 days per year. The top is often covered in mist, so be careful not to walk off the edge!
Before we get into details of what you need to know about the Ben Nevis hike, here are some quick facts about the trail.
- Location | Scotland
- Hike duration | 7-9 hours
- Start | Glen Nevis visitor center car park or Ben Nevis Inn car park
- End | Ben Nevis summit
- Distance | 17km / 10.5 miles
- The highest point of the Ben Nevis: 1.345 meter
Ben Nevis hike details
The Ben Nevis hike can be divided into 7 stages. The hike starts officially at the Glen Nevis visitor center. You can also start at the Ben Nevis Inn. The difference is that you have to pay at the visitor center £8 / $9.80 and at the Ben Nevis Inn is free of charge. At both places you can see the map of the hike, you can also use our map. The trail is easy to follow because you will do the easiest route and the most tourist one. This does not mean that the hike is not enjoyable. It is still a lot of fun.
Stage 1 | 10 minutes: after you have parked the car you cross the bridge at the Glen Nevis visitor center and follow the river on your right. At some point, you see a sign where you start climbing. When parked at the Ben Nevis Inn you walk through the gate and walk 2 minutes when you turn left to climb up. This is where the Glen Nevis visitor center and the Ben Nevis Inn trails come together. There is not much difference in distance between them.
Stage 2 | 50 minutes: the first part is easy because you don’t have to climb much. After you see the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel sign, it gets more difficult because you have to walk up the mountain in a zigzag pattern and take lots of steps. This can be hard on your legs.
Stage 3 | 30 minutes: after the walk uphill it gets easier again because the path levels out and you can walk along Loch Meall. This is also the point where you can stop and enjoy the view. When you continue walking you arrive at a T junction where you turn right.
Stage 4 | 2 hours: from now on it will be difficult again because now you will only walk up. It also gets a little colder from this part. The cool thing about this part is that you can see more and more of the south side of the valley, with all the mountains, which is really an impressive landscape. This part is also a zigzag and takes about 2 hours, this is a tough part because of the loose stones.
Stage 5 | 30 minutes: at the end of the zigzag path, the walk becomes easier. But because you are getting higher up, the wind and cold become more extreme. There is also a good chance that you will get into a fog bank or rain shower. You only have to walk up for 30 minutes/1 hour before you reach the top. Follow the path with the piled-up pillars.
Stage 6 | 30 minutes: if you are lucky, you can see a lot of the area from the top. We weren’t lucky and there was a rain shower, but that didn’t matter to us, because we enjoyed the walk. Usually, there are good views during the hike because the clouds are often at the top. After you enjoy your time at the top, you can walk back down using the same path.
Stage 7 | 3 hours: when you are ready to leave, it is easy to walk back the same way you came. But be careful if it has been raining, because the ground can be wet and slippery and you could fall.
Doing the Ben Nevis hike solo or with a guide
The Ben Nevis hike is easy to do alone because the path is well-marked and you can follow it easily. In our opinion, it is really not needed to make use of a guide. When the weather conditions there are walking more people so in case you need help you can always ask somebody else.
How difficult is the Ben Nevis hike
The Ben Nevis hike is a moderate to difficult level of difficulty. It can be done by people with an average fitness level. We saw children starting at the age of 14 doing it so expect that when you have an average fitness level you can do it without many problems.
The challenging part of the hike is when the weather change and you walk in the rain and heavy wind. It is important to dress appropriately as the weather can change quickly in Scotland. The majority of the walk follows a well-marked path, but the last part can be a bit more challenging with loose stones and steep sections. It is good to take breaks, eat and drink enough and stay focused on your footing when you are walking along the trail.
Where do you stay after the Ben Nevis hike?
Due to the fact that Fort William is located next to the mountain, Ben Nevis and many people would like to hike up to the mountain so you can find many accommodations near Fort William.
When traveling by car we recommend the following accommodation to stay.. Generally speaking, it is important to book accommodation months in advance.
Ben Nevis Inn Rooms: Ben Nevis Inn Rooms offers luxury suites that have been recently renovated. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the town and surrounding mountains from their private balconies. Also, you can enjoy in the evening food, drink, and music in the Ben Nevis Inn restaurant. Plus, the guest house is only a short distance away from Ben Nevis, making it an ideal base for exploring the mountain.
Glen Nevis Youth Hostel: when you want to stay close to the Ben Nevis trail you should definitely stay at Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. This place is cheap and next to the Ben Nevis hike which makes it the perfect place to rest for not that much money.
The Garrison: The Garrison is a 4-star guest house located in the center of Fort William. It offers cozy rooms with en suite bathrooms. The guest house also features a garden and terrace area where guests can relax and take in the beautiful views of the surrounding hills.
Distillery Guest House: when Ben Nevis Inn Rooms, Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, and The Garrison are fully booked you can stay at Distillery Guest House. For travelers who are looking for an authentic and traditional experience, we recommend the Distillery Guest House. This guest house is a charming 18th-century building offering comfortable rooms with modern amenities.
When traveling with a motorhome we recommend staying at the parking lot of Ben Nevis Inn. This is free the condition is that you have eaten or drunk something at the Ben Nevis Inn.
Which hike can do you more beside the Ben Nevis hike?
Besides the Ben Nevis hike, there are a lot of different hikes you can do. One of the most popular hikes is the Steall Waterfall trail. This trail takes you up to the fourth-highest waterfall in Scotland and is a great way to experience some of Scotland’s incredible landscape. The hike starts at the car park just outside of Fort William and follows a very well-marked path up to the waterfall. The track is relatively easy with some steep sections, but be aware of the slippery stones and wear appropriate shoes for this hike. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the valley below. In our article about Fort William, we explained all the details about the Steall Waterfall hike and other activities that we recommended doing in the area.
What to bring when doing the Ben Nevis hike?
When going on a Ben Nevis hike it is important to bring the right clothing, food, and stuff. Make sure you wear proper hiking boots that are comfortable and provide enough grip for the trail. Other items you should include are water, snacks, warm clothes (even in summer), sun protection cream, our map in your google account as well as a first aid kit. Finally, it is also recommended to pack a head torch or flashlight in case you are walking back down after dark. Prepare your bag for all weather conditions because the weather can change quickly up in the mountain. So work with clothing with layers when temperatures change you can easily adapt to this
Best time to do Ben Nevis hike?
The best time to do the Ben Nevis hike is during the summer months between June and August. During this period, the days are longer and there is less rain so you can enjoy the views without having to worry about getting wet or cold. The temperatures in early summer can still be quite cold at night, so make sure you bring appropriate clothing with you. In addition, the trails are less likely to be boggy and slippery during this time of year. If you don’t mind a bit of cold weather, winter can also be a great time for a Ben Nevis hike as you get to experience breathtaking landscapes covered in snow and ice. However, make sure to check the weather conditions before you set off and be aware of the risks associated with winter hikes. Finally, if you want to avoid crowds, it is best to go early in the morning or during the weekdays as weekends tend to be busy on the Ben Nevis trail.
When you plan a hiking trip, it is important to have the right travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you from things that could happen unexpectedly, like an accident or getting sick while you are away from home. If you do not have travel insurance and something happens, you might have to pay a lot of money for medical care.
WorldNomads is a good option for travel insurance because it is reliable and affordable. They offer different packages of coverage for all types of travelers. This includes backpackers and adventurers who might need extra protection.
What to do after the Ben Nevis hike? Go exploring Scotland!
After completing the Ben Nevis hike, why not explore the area of Fort William? There are plenty of great attractions to visit, such as the Steall Waterfalls and the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Alternatively, you could take a trip further afield and explore Glen Coe, a stunning valley with majestic mountains, historic sites, and breath-taking views. If you travel north to the Isle of Skye, you can discover unique landscapes and wildlife such as sea eagles and otters. Or to the south is Loch Lomond with its picturesque lochs, woodlands, and outdoor activities. All these destinations offer something special making them well worth visiting!
Other useful articles to make preparing for your trip to Scotland easy:
- Scotland trip cost: explains per type of traveler how much budget you need.
- Scotland itinerary of 3 weeks: we traveled for 3 weeks through Scotland and you can use our itinerary to help make your own itinerary.
- Scotland travel guide: guide about Scotland that gives general travel information about Scotland.