In Scottish Gaelic, the word Ben Nevis means either venomous mountain, or mountain with its head in the clouds, and it certainly deserves either of these names. The peak is the very highest anywhere in the British Isles, and cuts a fearsome shape into the Grampian Mountains. It’s known as a place where mountaineers come to scramble, rock climb and even ice climb at an elevation of 1.3km. Fortunately, there are numerous routes to the summit, and Ben Nevis can easily be attempted by amateur walkers.
The vast majority of those who wish to become briefly the highest person on the island will do so via the Pony Track. This path starts off at just 20 metres above sea level, and zig zags most of the way up the mountain. Because of this pattern, there aren’t too many sections which are particularly steep, and most walkers will be able to complete the circuit.
While the vast majority of the Pony Track is well maintained, with solid steps and paths covering most of the route, there are small areas of scree and lose rocks, which must be navigated carefully. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the descent is generally considered to be more difficult than the ascent, and can be tough on the joints of those who are not accustomed to walking. Quality boots are essential, and walking sticks can help take some of the weight off your feet.
Those who are more experienced may wish to tackle the path beginning at Torlundy. This route is steeper, requires scrambling, and is more precarious, but rewards the climber with exceptional views that are not visible from the Pony Track.
There is a large plateau at the summit of the mountain, which is home to the ruins of an old observatory that was maintained in the late 19th century. Here you’ll find plenty of people resting, picnicking, and seeing the sights. On a clear day, hills and mountains all the way over in Northern Ireland are visible.
If you’re looking for a spectacular walk, and want to feel a sense of accomplishment afterwards, then Ben Nevis is the mountain for you. With a variety of routes available, this is something that most will be able to achieve with a little preparation and the right equipment.