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Fitness Walking

The Best Time to Climb Ben Nevis

Scotland is full of mountainous regions and peaks that are scattered all over the country. Ben Nevis is Scotland’s tallest peak and Britain’s highest, often named as ‘The Ben’, situated at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of Scotland, close to the town of Fort William. Scotland’s largest mountain was once an active volcano which exploded and collapsed inwards on itself millions of years ago which stands strong at 1,345 above sea level with its head in the clouds. The mountain is a popular bucket list destination for tourists and locals alike, attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents a year. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a photographer looking to capture beautiful landscapes, bagging The Ben should definitely feature at the top of your list.

How to get to Ben Nevis?

If you’re driving to Ben Nevis, you’ll want to head in the direction of Fort William. From Glasgow, you are approximately 2-3 hours and 3-4 hours from Edinburgh depending on traffic. If you’re travelling by public transport, you can either travel by bus or train. The CityLink bus service from Glasgow goes to Fort William and there’s a direct train too. From London Euston, you can also get the Caledonian Sleeper.

How long does it take to climb Ben Nevis?

The quick answer… 7-9 hours

The average time to the top of the mountain is around 3.5-4.5 hours meaning the average time to complete is around 7-9 hours all dependent on your level of fitness, the weather and how many breaks you plan to take in-between. People always say “it’s worth it for the view” so make sure you stop to take it all in.

When is the best time of year to climb Ben Nevis?

You can visit Ben Nevis all year round, some people prefer to challenge themselves and make plans to climb during winter whereas the weather in Scotland during summer is drier and the visibility a lot clearer. The weather in Scotland is known to be changeable and unpredictable even in the warmer summer months, we would still expect wet and windy spells. You can expect freezing cold conditions during winter, stronger winds and snowfall.

Summer

May – September

The Ben Nevis route is considerably long and starts from sea level. During the summer months, most of the ice has melted, the daylight stays for longer and the chances of the weather being dry are a lot higher. Ben Nevis can be tackled by people with less hiking experience during these months, you just need to be in the right mindset to push yourself physically as well as mentally and as always, be up for an adventure.

Winter

October – February

In colder winter months, the climb is far more challenging in comparison to hiking in summer. The conditions are fiercer and significantly more dangerous. You will need more experience and specialist equipment including cramptons, an ice axe and long-sling/locking karabiner.

What equipment do I need to climb Ben Nevis?

  1. Waterproof jacket (with hood) ☐
  2. Waterproof over trousers
  3. Walking boots (rather than shoes) Find out more The Complete Guide: Walking Shoes blog
  4. Anti-blister socks
  5. Lightweight fleece
  6. Thermal base layers
  7. Hat and gloves (even in summer) ☐
  8. Sunglasses ☐
  9. Walking poles (optional) ☐
  10. Headtorch
  11. Thermal flask/water bottle
  12. Camera ☐
  13. Map ☐
  14. Compass ☐

Extra equipment needed

For summer

  • Suncream
  • Baseball cap
  • Extra pair of socks (for after)

For winter

  • Ski goggles
  • Ski gloves/mittens
  • Helmet
  • Hat or balaclava
  • Crampons
  • Ice axe
  • Long sling/locking karabiner
  • Gaiters

Where to stay near Ben Nevis?

Depending on what you’re looking for, there are plenty of Hotels, B&B’s and guest houses for a range of different price points (low-high) in Fort William. If you plan to stay for more than a night, we would recommend somewhere where you can relax in style. The below destinations cover low, mid and high price points.

  • Premier Inn Fort William Hotel
  • Factor’s Inn & Factor’s Cottage
  • Invergarry Hotel
  • Ben Nevis Hotel & Leisure Club
  • The Lime Tree An Ealdhain Hotel
  • Glengarry Castle Hotel
  • The Pierhouse Hotel
  • Holly Tree Hotel
  • RiverBeds Luxury Wee Lodges
  • Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Island