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Ben Nevis (Scotland)

Two important events in the late 19th century made Britain's highest summit easy for anyone possessed of time and money.  The first was the building of a pony track from Glen Nevis to Britain's only mountain-top observatory, while the second was the opening of the West Highland Railway in 1894.  Before these momentous events the climbing of Ben Nevis by a casual tourist would have been regarded as something of a feat.   We start our ascent of Ben Nevis from opposite Glen Nevis Youth Hostel.  We cross the river Nevis and take the steep zig zagging but well constructed pitched path that joins the easier gradient of the 'Tourist Path' coming from Achnitee.

We continue along this path contouring Meall an t-Suidhe towards the Lochan of the same name (also known as the half way Lochan) at 570m.  Not exactly the half way point but near enough!  Once above the Lochan we sharply turn right and traverse the lower slopes of Carn Dearg crossing the Red Burn that flows from Coire na h-Urchaire.  This stream can sometimes be a torrent after heavy rain making the crossing fairly hazardous!  The well trodden path from here zig zags all the way to the summit plateau, easing off at 1200m with a nice easy section to the summit.  We always hope to obtain fantastic views from the summit however the mountain does unfortunately have quite a few days per year where the summit is shrouded in mist and cloud.  We can only cross our fingers and pray that we are lucky on the day.  We return to the start point by the same route.

What does 'Nevis' mean?  The river and glen running past the mountain both carry the name, as does the remote sea loch at Knoydart, 40 miles to the west.  In Gaelic the mountain's name, Beinn Nibheis, has been linked with Irish and Gaelic words meaning poisonous or terrible, implying a fairly ominous character.  It also has been referred to as a venomous mountain or big red hill.

ben nevis image
ben nevis group shot
map of ben nevis