A Guide To Climbing Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is often chosen by many hikers as the starting point for the National Three Peaks challenge.

It is the largest peak out of the three and attempting the climb with fresh legs is recommended! Certainly when tackling the mighty ‘Ben’ it is useful to know what you might be encountering. We hope to equip you with some useful info.

Key Facts

  • Height: 1,345 m or 4,413 ft
  • Difficulty: The hardest climb of the National 3 Peaks
  • Time: 7-9 hours along the Mountain Track
  • The Nevis Landscape Partnership: A  community organisation who help maintain and care for the natural and cultural heritage and wild land areas of Ben Nevis. Could you make a small donation?

Getting to Ben Nevis

Stay in Fort William overnight so you can arrive ready for your hike early and rested –  with a wealth of accommodation in beautiful countryside you will be spoilt for choice!

From the 5 star Inverlochy Castle Hotel, to the local Premier Inn and an array of campsites, including Ben Nevis Holiday Park where you can pitch a tent or glamp it up in a lodge, there is accommodation to suit all pockets and preferences.

When you arrive at Ben Nevis, it is easiest to park at the Visitor Centre where at the time of writing, parking is £3 for cars and £10 for minibuses and coaches.

The postcode for the car park and visitor centre is PH33 6ST.

Ben Nevis Route Map

The starting point for Ben Nevis is the Visitors Centre where you can receive up to date information on the conditions at the summit of Ben Nevis.

The route used to climb Ben Nevis during the 3 Peaks Challenge is the Mountain Track which is popularly known as the ‘Pony Track’. This is the best route for summiting Ben Nevis without the need for climbing equipment or extensive previous mountaineering experience.

The Pony Track might be the easiest route up Ben Nevis, but it is still a challenging ascent. It is still 10.5 miles long, 17km, up and down, and includes 1352 metres of ascent.

What is the route like?

With rough terrain that becomes snowy as you ascent, the route is incredibly steep and certainly challenging, in particular the upper section is very rocky and rough.

The start of the Mountain Track is pleasant – a nice start! The terrain is kind to the walker and the gradient is a gradual one.

After the Youth Hostel path the ground beneath foot becomes a little more tricky and the gradual incline is accompanied with steps and small rocky sections that require some serious concentration!

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

Ben Nevis can be climbed the whole year-round, but of course the experience is very different based on the season! Generally it is considered that the summer ascent can be done from May to October, and winter ascents, from November to April. Often it may prove easiest to focus on your walk between June and September as the risk of extreme weather is more likely to be avoided.

Ben Nevis Weather​

Always check the weather conditions before making any attempt to climb Ben Nevis or complete the 3 peaks challenge. Ben Nevis can often be impassable due to snow.

Climbing Ben Nevis between June and September will provide your best chance to avoid the chance of extreme weather conditions and snow disrupting your challenge.

Check the Met Office weather forecast for Ben Nevis here.

Challenge yourself!

Conquer the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours in this iconic mountaineering challenge with Mountaineerin!

Find out more about our fully supported National 3 Peaks Challenge or contact us to organise a private trek or challenge for your group.

Happy Adventuring!


Simon Ogunlana – Founder & Director

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