Big Ben

Ben Nevis climbs to 4409 feet and is, by around 115 feet, the highest point in Britain (the Cairngorm peak of Ben Macdui is the second). The Ben, as it is affectionately known, is surrounded by some of Scotland’s finest mountains, including Carn Mor Dearg and Sgurr a Mhaim, and therefore, during the winter months the mountains of Glen Nevis, above Fort William, become a playground for hillwalkers, mountaineers and skiers alike (having said that snow on Ben Nevis’s summit and within its corries can lie well into June) and it is said that the top of Ben Nevis is only free of cloud around 60 days a year.

There are a couple of ways to the top, the most popular being from Glen Nevis Youth Hostel and the finest by the spectacular Carn Mor Dearg arete. Once on the spacious summit of Ben Nevis you will see the ruins of the observatory, which was permanently staffed between 1883 and 1904, and the meteorological data collected during this period was important in trying to understand the vagaries of the Scottish mountain weather.

For such a prominent and renowned peak it may surprise many that the derivation of Ben Nevis is still shrouded in mystery. It may translate from the Gaelic Neimheas meaning evil or venomous one but its true meaning may never be known. But to appreciate the real size and scale of Ben Nevis (apart from a walk to her summit which can take several hours, even by the ‘tourist’ track) it is best to view her massive form from the banks of Loch Linnhe or the Caledonian Canal at Corpach, a few miles from Fort William. From here the surrounding houses and buildings are dwarfed by the colossal bulk of this magnificent mountain.

Ben Nevis and The Caledonian Canal from Corpach
Ben Nevis and the Caledonian Canal from Corpach

Ben Nevis and Loch Linnhe from Corpach
Ben Nevis and Loch Linnhe from Corpach