4 best routes up Ben Nevis.The highest mountain in Scotland

These are our 4 best routes up Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK. The Ben as it’s affectionately known is climbed by 150,000 people every year with another 100,000 people turning back due to bad weather or finding the ascent too challenging.

Ben Nevis has long drawn the attention of adventurers and scientists, first climbed in 1771 by James Robertson an Edinburgh botanist and for twenty-one years from 1883 scientists worked and lived on the summit at a purpose-built observatory recording weather conditions. 

The Ben is renowned for bad weather with the summit typically 9 degrees colder than the base, it’s covered in cloud for half the year and gets over 4 m of rain fall per annum – so you don’t climb the Ben to get a sun tan!

Mountain route

Originally a pony track built to service the observatory on the summit this is a well maintained track and the easiest way up the mountain, It’s not for the feint hearted or ill prepared walker though as it takes an arduous 8 hours to complete the route. Navigation can be difficult near the summit as the path is poorly defined and often covered in snow even in the summer months.

paved section of the mountain track on ben nevis looking down to glen nevis.

Carn Mor Dearg

Our favorite route as you get a fantastic view of the Ben’s north face and an airy traverse along the Carn Mor Dearg arete directly under the summit pyramid. It’s a grade 1 scramble so only suitable for experienced walkers or guided parties. The walk can start from either Glen Nevis or Torlundy, I prefer the latter as the you get a better view of the Ben Nevis and great feeling of anticipation as you walk up the Glen.

carn mor dearg arete on a summers day

rasaints [CC BY-SA]

Ledge Route – Grade 1 Scramble

A fantastic route in the summer although navigation can be difficult so best do some research and leave for a clear day. The route winds it way up the Carn Dearg Buttress on the north face past a series of gulleys with awesome rock architecture including an the improbable Pedestal, a sort of Jenga block tower.

Carn Dearg Buttress on the north face on ben nevis showing the ledge route

Munrogue [CC BY-SA]

Tower Ridge – A classic ✩✩✩ route

This is one of the best scrambling routes in the UK with a kilometre of scrambling on good quality clean rock on the Ben’s North Face. An exposed and intricate route with one pitch of rock climbing classified “Difficult” this is an awesome adventure.

One of the the finest and longest winter climbs in the UK. Tower ridge is a bold alpine route almost to the very summit of Britain’s highest mountain.

profile of tower ridge on ben nevis looking down from above

Accommodation

  • Glen Nevis Award-winning caravan and camping park is set in a beautiful Highland location with excellent facilities
  • Red Squirrel Relaxed campsite with fire pits in the heart of Glencoe. A short walk from the Clachaig Inn, our favorite pub in the highlands
  • Ben Nevis Bunkhouse Modern bunkhouse at the foot of Ben Nevis

Things to do around Fort William

  • Ben Nevis distillery Guided tour around the 178 year old whisky distillery
  • Neptunes staircase Eight locks on the Caledonia Canal Built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822.
  • Nevis Range Mountain experience Cable Car, Skiing, Mountain biking
  • Jacobite Steam Train One of the World’s great train jouneys from Fort William to Mallaig over the Glenfinnan viaduct made famous by the Hogwart’s express in the Harry Potter films
  • Steall Falls Glen Nevis. Scotland second highest falls at a height of 120 m
  • West Highland Museum Telling the story of the region and its history including a collection relating to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

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