How Long Does It Take to Climb Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles with a summit of 1,345 metres (4,413 ft) above sea level. The summit is the highest land in any direction for 459 miles (739 km). The mountain is also a very popular destination with hikers attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents each year with climbers looking for the ultimate test of walking to the summit of the British Isle highest summit. While we have walked Ben Nevis a few times, once question we’re always asked is, how long does it take to climb Ben Nevis.

Ben Nevis Walk Time

Ben Nevis is located in the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. It stands at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area. Ben Nevis has several different trails that can be taken, each trail will have a different completion time. All the trails are fairly difficult, and they all have their challenges. Some have snow far into June, others have sheer cliffs, some only go one way, while others are Grade 1 Scrambles.

The biggest problem in giving climbing times is that mother nature often does her finest to impede on our time frames, by making it foggy so we find it difficult to navigate or wet and cold so that its difficult to walk. If you’re going to attempted a hike of this magnitude, be sure that you know the trail that you are hiking, regardless of the amount of time you think it will take you to finish it, it may take more due to unforeseen environmental issues. Where ever you hike in the countryside, make sure you hike prepared with the right equipment, maps and GPS units to navigate, food to keep you energized and both an emergency and first aid kit to help you, if you run into problems.

While there are six routes up Ben Nevis, 80% of hikers use the Pony Track from Glen Nevis, but my favourite is the North Face as it has both a gentle walk and major challenge for the last few hundred meters. It’s also the best place in the UK for Ice Climbing in the winter, although its very dangerous.

Pony Track

The Pony Track (also known as the Ben Path, the Mountain Path or the Tourist Route) is easily the easiest route up the mountain. The route is what tourists and beginners often decided to take, because it has the best “ease to speed ratio” of all the trails. The route begins in Achintee on the east-side of the Glen Nevis at about 20-meters above sea level, and quickly steepens as it rises firstly towards Lochan Meall An T-suidhe, and then in a series of zig-zags up the west side of Ben Nevis. While the path is maintained, you need to make sure you have proper equipment, including walking boots to help with the loose rocky surface.

While the pony track is the easiest route, it still covers a grueling 17 km, and has a climb time of over six hours (3-4 hours up, 2-3 hours down).

North Face

If you’re looking for a slightly quicker route, try the North Face. While it does not reach the summit of Ben Nevis, it can be completed in four hours, while still providing some great views and a decent hike.

If you’re feeling adventureous, it’s possible to reach the summit, but you will need to tackle the 700-metre (2,300 ft) cliffs that provide classic scrambles and rock climbs and should only be attempted by the most experienced of climbers and mountaineers. The last part of the route is full of rocky and dangerous terrain, and is not for the faint of heart or a beginner! There can even be patches of snow on the Ledge Trail well into summer months!

Trying to climb a trail for an expert as a beginner is a great way to get yourself lost, confused, hurt, scared, or even dead, so take it seriously, and no, doing Zumba or CrossFit does not make you an expert mountain climber.

Final Thoughts

All of these have different challenging aspects and time frames, so check in with your degree of climbing to make sure you can handle the trail you select.

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