Ben Nevis Scotland’s Highest Peak

Ben Nevis

This photograph of Ben Nevis ( Beinn Neibhis in Gaelic) was taken by Charles Michie. This is a view of the Ben from the north east overlooking the Caledonian Canal.  Fully covered in snow on a sunny day this a spectacular image of a spectacular mountain.

The Ben is Britain’s highest mountain at 1344 metres and the region is a great draw for climbers and walkers the world over with 34 odd Munros in the Lochaber area.  The tourist trail to the summit is approximately 16km long from start to finish.  Walkers should give themselves about 8 hours to complete the round trip.

Please remember that the weather conditions on the mountain can change quickly and that an ascent can be dangerous.  Please ensure that you are properly equipped and prepared.   Visitors are also asked to adhere to a tread lightly policy and to remove all their rubbish (recently ten rubbish bags full of banana skins were removed from the mountain by the John Muir Trust).

Please refer to the Lochaber Mountain Rescue website for advice on climbing Ben Nevis:

Fort William and Ben Nevis are at the heart of the Lochaber,”Outdoor Capital of the UK”. Mountain climbing is not the only activity as walking, sailing, mountain biking, orienteering, cycling and bird watching are some of the many possibilities in the region.

Ben Nevis had an operational observatory at its summit from 1883 until 1904.  The Observatory Hotel also opened in 1894 and was run during the summer until 1915.  It was popular to ascend the mountain on a pony for an overnight stay.

A faster ascent is possible and in September the Ben Nevis Race is run.  Since its inception in 1937 the 16km route begins and ends at Claggan Park and ascends 1,340 metres.   Two of the best times recorded are 1:25.34 ( Kenny Stuart) and 1:43:25 (Pauline Howarth).  The event is only open to members of Athletics clubs and runners must have completed 3 ‘Grade A’ hill races.

Misty morning on Ben Nevis

Misty morning on Ben Nevis

As if running up the mountain was not hard enough, in 1986 a team of Dundee removal men carried a piano to the summit for charity and it was recently discovered by the John Muir Trust as they dismantled unauthorised memorial cairns and cleared the summit of rubbish.  Amazingly, this was not the first time a large musical instrument has been manhandled up the mountain.  In 1971, Highland Lumberjack Kenneth Campbell, attempted to reach the summit with a 226lb organ. Upon reaching the summit Mr Campbell played Scotland the Brave.

Perhaps most impressive is that in 1911 a model T Ford was also driven to the summit  ( on a specially constructed route)  as a publicity stunt.  In 2011 a team of volunteers celebrated that ascent by dismantling a model T and carrying to the summit and back again!

Have you any tales from climbing Ben Nevis?  Please feel free to share your experiences and photographs.

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