The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis
This is a tough walk that used to be called the ‘Tourist Path’ – but was renamed The Mountain Track as people thought it sounded easy. It isn’t.
Start and Finish:
Distance: 16.6 km
Ascent: 1355 m
Time: 6-7 hrs
Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Parking, cafe, toilets.
Navigation on summit in mist
Glen Nevis Visitor Centre
Post Code for Sat Nav: PH33 6ST
The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis
The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis used to be called, rather derogatorily the Tourist Track. However, this made it sound far too easy, and the powers that be decided that renaming it the Mountain Track would make is sound like a much more serious proposition. Well it may be a reasonably straightforward trip compared to many mountains, but it’s still a huge lump of a mountain that can never be taken lightly. Couple that with the potential of snow on the summits most months, as well as a notoriously difficult summit to navigate from in mist, and you can begin to understand why they changed the name! You can start from one of three places, but this route details the walk from The Visitor centre via the Ben Nevis Inn (which is a good starting point and an even better ending point!). You can alternatively start from the Youth Hostel in Glen Nevis.
The Mountain Track up Ben Nevis Full Route
This is a challenging route in all conditions and the Mountain Track up Ben Nevis shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s basically a 1300m slog to the summit, with little reward until it starts levelling out towards the summit plateau and the views open up. It’s much more pleasant in descent for that reason!
1 – The first section is deceptive. Setting off from the car park, cross the bridge and head on uphill towards the Nevis Inn where the path starts properly. It angles along the hillside towards Lochan Meall an t-Suidh, and is a good 500m of climbing. Thankfully, it’s good path all the way. Once it contours left, you know you’ve nearly reached the end of this section.
2 – Once you reach Lochan Meall an t-Suidh, the path veers right and soon begins on the relentless Zig zags – and the Mountain Track then go on and on and on!! They set off at around 500m and the angle doesn’t relent much until you’re well over 1100m up.
3 – The Zig Zags on the Mountain Track up Ben Nevis eventually relent, but there’s still a couple of hundred metres climbing left to do. Some bits can be less than obvious in mist, and down right hard work in the snow.
4 – The Summit of Ben Nevis! Finally, you’ve reached the highest point in the UK. There’s a trig point here, as well as a shelter and the remains of the Ben Nevis weather observatory. The images below show you how much snow can be there at the end of May, with the snow free images providing an indication of how deep it can be. Quite shocking when you see these images side by side!
5 – Getting off the summit of Ben Nevis in mist, even down the Mountain Track can be tricky. We’ve put a page together – How to get safely off the Summit of Ben Nevis – with all the information you need.
6 – Hopefully, once you’re off Ben Nevis’ summit, the path you ascended on should be found and you’ll have a fair old yomp back down to Fort William.