The highest point in Britain is a goal many find worth attempting. And the Mountain Track – previously known as the Tourist Route or Pony Track (it was built at the end of the 19th century to service a weather station at the summit) – is busy all year round.
This route is leg sapping and a degree of fitness is needed, although there is nothing technical apart from the need to keep away from severe drops at the top, especially as snow can be lying even in the summer months.
DISTANCE: 10 miles / 16km.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: 4,430ft / 1,350m.
TIME: 7 to 9 hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 41.
PARK: Turn off the A82 at the eastern end of Fort William to follow a brown sign for one and a half miles to the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre.
THE ROUTE: Leave the visitor centre and cross the River Nevis by a modern bridge. A path on the other side leads up towards the Ben Nevis Inn – go right before it to begin following the main path up the mountain.
A couple of zig-zags are walked up before the path swings left to climb high above the Red Burn. Further up keep left to avoid erosion and follow a good path with turns sharp right to pass by Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe. (This is known as halfway lochan but unfortunately you have not reached the halfway point yet.)
At a junction of paths go right to walk over Red Burn and begin walking up a series of very wide zig-zags. These gradually take you up the huge north west slopes of Ben Nevis.
Much higher up it is important to keep to the path as Five Finger Gully lies to the right and higher up the huge cliffs of the north face. At the top of the zig zags, tall cairns indicate the path all the way to the summit but you should take great care, especially if snow cornices are present at the top of vertiginous drops.
After enjoying the summit, and hopefully the view, begin the return but remember the descent is where most accidents occur. In poor visibility follow a compass bearing of 231 degrees for 150 yards from the trig point and then go 281 degrees for another 1,500 yards before continuing to retrace your steps to the start.