This article comes from my first hand experience of conquering The Ben (as it’s known by locals). Whether you take on the Three Peaks Challenge, or you just fancy ticking the UK’s highest mountain off your bucket list, then here’s some useful information to keep you safe.
Where to stay
I stayed in this Air B&B and it was the perfect location within Fort William. At just £25 per person per night based on four people sharing means it’s affordable too. The apartment was just ten minutes drive from Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, and close to conveniences such as Aldi, Home Bargains, the Town Centre and Ben Nevis Distillery. The Corpach Wreck (pictured) and the Glenfinnan Viaduct were also within easy reach.
How long does it take to hike Ben Nevis?
The average time taken to hike Ben Nevis is around seven hours up and down, but this will largely depend on your walking speed, experience, conditions and the time taken to eat, drink and snap photographs.
The climb itself is not as strenuous as you might imagine, since it begins on Glen Nevis and snakes around on to Ben Nevis. The Waterfall marks the half way point, and it’s from here that the terrain becomes more treacherous and the ascent more vertical.
It took my team 6.5 hours to reach the summit, this was largely due to a frequent number of stops. For a normal able-bodied person, you can easily reach the summit in four to five hours. It took us three hours to descend on minimal stops.
What to wear to hike Ben Nevis?
Climbing in October, the weather was just comfortable but not warm. We were aware that the summit would reach minus temperatures, but of course the climb itself will raise your body temperature somewhat. I’d recommend taking layers – thermal ones – that you can take on and off as you climb.
The weather can change in an instant from glorious sunshine to snow showers, so be sure to take some waterproof outerwear to protect yourself from the elements.
A good pair of shoes
Even with my North Face hiking shoes my feet were in agony on the descent. The terrain is very rocky, include loose rocks and even climbing over boulders, so be sure to wear a good study pair of shoes that are comfortable – you’re going to be wearing them for hours!
And of course, blister plasters won’t hurt.
What to take to hike Ben Nevis?
You’re going to be outside climbing for a good few hours, so it’s recommended to pack food, water and even some energy gels. This is of course the minimum I carried, and only because we had a seasoned hiker with us who had all the gear. Do some extra research in to what survival items you might need if you’re new to hiking.
A Word to the Wise
Despite its popularity, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Britain and should not be approached lightly. In December 2018, there were two deaths reported on Ben Nevis – and sadly a quick google search uncovers a significant number of climbing related deaths on the mountain. I don’t wish to put you off, only ask that you take extra precaution when climbing the treacherous paths.