Ben Nevis from Glencoe

I was a mountain guide for 4 years and have been on the hills all over!  We are only 25 minutes drive from Ben Nevis so here’s my guide to getting up and down safely.  This is for the Mountain Path which is easily accessible from our accommodation here in Glencoe.  Please note these tips are for summer conditions where there is no snow/ice on the ground or in the forecast.

  1. Ben Nevis is a big old hill and a long day out.  Be prepared and plan for an 8 hour day (4 hours up, 3 hours down, 1 hour stops).  I’ve been on lots of quicker trips and lots of slower ones but this is a good average to work to.
  2. Start early.  Plan to finish at least 2 hours before the sun goes down so you have spare time in case of delays.  Pack a torch just in case.
  3.  Get an up to date weather forecast.  Don’t rely on ground level forecasts e.g. the BBC or Met Office as they are not too reliable and don’t account for local variations. Use this one – it’s very reliable and written with the mountains in mind.
  4. Pack the right kit – take spare warm layers and waterproof top and bottoms.  Gloves and a hat are always a good idea, the temperature and wind speeds can be massively different up top than in the valley.  Wear decent walking boots/outdoor trainers.  Sandals etc. aren’t ideal as the path is very rocky and uneven.  Pack a basic first aid kit (blister plasters/plasters are a lifesaver!)  Hot day (it does happen) – sunhat, sunglasses, sun protection.  I’ve seen some crazy sunburn on people!
  5.  Know where you’re going.  Take a map/compass and know how to use them. If you’re reliant on GPS systems make sure they’re weatherproof and you have a a back up.  Yes, there is a track all the way to the top but it’s not always visible!!  Yes, there will probably be other people around but can you be sure they know where they’re going?  The summit plateau is flat with one safe way off and the route can be especially indistinct there.
  6. Take plenty of food and water.  Have a pocket full of your favourite snack – peanuts/chocolate/haribo (or all 3!) handy at all times.  Always great to have a quick energy boost!
  7. Leave a route plan with someone you trust – your contact details, number in party, route and expected time back.  Make sure they know what to do if you are not back! (Hint – read the route plan!).  If you are staying in our lovely accommodation here in Glencoe leave it at reception.
  8.  Have fun!!  The above isn’t mean to put you off, just to make sure you’re prepared.  The local Mountain Rescue teams do an awesome job looking after people who have come unstuck on the hills.  They are all volunteers and give up their time freely to help those in need – don’t be the cause of a ‘call out’ due to being unprepared.

PS We have an awesome drying room onsite here for your wet kit and one of Scotland’s best pubs (the Clachaig Inn) less than a mile away – perfect for that post hike refreshment!