Ben Nevis weekend. Our weekend climbing Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. At 1343m high, Ben Nevis is both the highest Munro and the highest point in Britain too.
Here below I’ve tried to capture the highlights of last weekend of our climb of Ben Nevis and our exploring of the area around.
It’s always difficult for me to choose which photographs to show you, because I take so many!
But, with the help of Lynne, I hope we selected those that would tell the story as visually best as possible.
So, it’s time to grab your cuppa, sit back and enjoy, and let me be your guide as I first take you on our climb up Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, last Saturday.
Then a short tour of the Lochaber area on Sunday, including Achnacarry, the home of the Cameron Clan, which is my mothers side of our family.
Right, so, let’s start with setting up camp shall we? 🙂
We started the weekend by pitching our tent on Friday at the Glen Nevis Campsite.
Just in time too, as the rain came on just after we pitched! And so, that’s the first and last photograph from Friday!
Ben Nevis Saturday 22nd August
Saturday started dry and bright and we met Liam at 7am at the visitors centre car park.
This map shows our starting point and our route for the day. Liam and Catherine had also travelled up to Fort William on the Friday. They opted (sensibly) for hotel accommodation for the weekend.
Catherine was to be enjoying some retail therapy in Fort William itself. She would not be joining us on the climb.
It’s not all climbing around this area.
There’s plenty of forest walks. The Riverside walk is an example of one such easier lower level walk.
The Riverside walk along the banks of the River Nevis is also the start of the most popular route up Ben Nevis.
As you may know, we’ve had A LOT of rain in Scotland this year.
Fortunately this part of the path is just passable as we start our upward journey.
I’m just pointing out how saturated the ground is here at this lower level. To explain now for our hasty retreat later!
The morning sky at this point was rather beautiful.
However it wasn’t quite telling us weather wise what it’s going to do today!
The mountains in the centre of this picture are the Mamores and form the Ring of Steall. You can reach the starting point for them further up Glen Nevis.
This whole area is rich in walking as well as being the start / end of the 96 mile walk between Fort William and Glasgow known as The West Highland Way.
Time check at this point it was 7.30am.
Those hearty bowls of breakfast porridge we had eaten at 6am were giving us plenty of energy.
Well that and the excellent meal we’d enjoyed the night before!
Turning round from the previous picture we look back on the Glen Nevis Inn and Bunkhouse.
Unfortunately on this occasion on our return from the summit this pub was just too busy for us to get into for a celebration drink!
Ben Nevis is an extremely popular hill all year round so it wasn’t really that surprising though.
It’s a path.
A long one.
A hot slog upwards.
There’s not much more to say other than that!
Turning and looking down to our right you can see the Glen Nevis Campsite, where our tent is pitched.
At this point our height is only about 150m out of the 1344m we need to climb.
Can you see our tent? 😉
The signpost here on the Ben Nevis path marks the route down to the Youth Hostel.
It’s the last access point where you can get back down (safely) to the Youth Hostel and the glen floor.
The Youth Hostel in Glen Nevis is always busy and extremely popular for people intending to climb Ben Nevis.
It was really warm and sheltered here just climbing up the side of the mountain.
As you can see from the photographs, we slowly began to shed layers of clothing.
Those layers of clothing would be much needed again at the summit though!
Going up is just a long slog.
The whole distance covered from bottom to top is 16km.
You’re so busy watching where your feet are going and stopping occasionally to admire the view.
On the way down though I can guarantee we didn’t remember the distance or any of the path covered here.
The Glen provides some fertile land for the grazing of cattle.
Mainly of the famous highland type, but not much else in the way of agricultural land.
Most of the Glen is actually laid over for forestry which is far easier to grow than crops.
There’s plenty of sheep roaming the mountain sides though, but they were “baa-d” 😆 and ran away whilst I was trying to photograph them!
Turning round and looking back down into Glen Nevis.
The campsite and our dry shelter are getting further and further away.
You can also see that part of the path has been repaired here to make it easier to walk on when its all muddy.
But parts of the footpath are like this.
You just have to climb over boulders, and watch your footing.
And obviously staying well clear of the edge too, especially even more so with the wet conditions underfoot!
We cross this bridge and then we turn the corner…….
….where some even more amazing views will open up!
……and the scenery was completely changed.
Here we can see one of the tributories of the river ness.
With the summit of Ben Nevis was completely hidden in the clouds.
Would this be my 6th ascent and still no view off the top?
Well, one of the gaelic translations of the meaning of “Ben Nevis” is, after all “the mountain with its head in the clouds”.
So, Liam and I pause for a quick photograph here.
At this point we’re at about 500m.
And, further on, we’ll be crossing over that burn (stream) that you can see near the top right of this photograph at about 800m.
Over 250,000 people are said to trek this path each year.
It takes a band of volunteers spending their spare time repairing and maintaining this path thousands of hours to keep it as good as it is here.
For as long as the path is good, and walkable, this prevents walkers from straying off the path and damaging, or creating, further unnecessary paths and “scarring” the mountain side.
So that’s why its worthwile maintaining this one path. Even though many people see it as a “scar” on the landscape.
I mentioned earlier that we would be crossing over this burn (stream) that you saw coming down the mountainside earlier.
It was fairly easy to cross as although it had rained in the last few days the water coming off the top of Ben Nevis wasn’t enough to cause a problem.
A view looking up at the waterfalls.
I remember the last time I was here.
This whole area, including the waterfalls were frozen solid!
View with my back to the waterfall.
Looking across and down to the centre left, where Liam and I had our photo taken.
The zigzag path that we’re following, is slowly weaving its way upwards.
Quite a bit of the path requires you to hop from boulder to boulder.
You need good sturdy boots to support your ankles on this sort of terrain.
That probably explains why this tourist needed rescuing after attempting to climb one of the sister mountains of Ben Nevis in flip flops!
Fort William, the town situated at the end of Glen Nevis, is largely obscured behind the mountain in the centre of the photograph.
Beyond that is the village of Corpach, which used to be isolated but has now largely become part of the Fort William spreading township.
Looking down on a rare glimpse of sunlight moving through Glen Nevis.
The River Nevis snakes its way from the Mamores, hidden to the left of this photograph and will eventually end up in Loch Linnhe.
You can just make out Loch Linnhe at the top right.
Loch Linnhe can be seen more clearly in this photograph and the mountains over to the far right form the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
The Ardnamurchan peninsula is an extremely remote, relatively inaccessible part of the mainland.
There’s only one single track road round it allowing the wildlife, particularly the nesting Golden Eagles, to live there in peace.
Anyone for a snowball fight?
As we approach the summit and enter the clouds, patches of all year round snow like this one can be found.
You’ll see the change in temperate too from what we’re now wearing in the next couple of photographs, compared to what we were wearing earlier.
And at this point you’ll be wanting to reach for those no-bake almond oat bars.
Yep, there’s nothing like bribing your climbing friends into shamelessly promoting your recipes by suddenly producing free food.
Oh and Talisker whisky to drink too. I’d basically had nothing to eat since I snacked on Liams lunch pork pies earlier! 😀
We reached the summit of Ben Nevis at 10.30am.
And took the obligatory selfie.
There’s not much visibility…..
And that’s it. We arrived.
It was 10.30am and we are at 1344m or 4409ft on the summit of Ben Nevis.
Three hours was pretty good timing. We had good overall dry conditions throughout so were able to keep going to a good pace.
This trigonometry point situated on the stone cairn was the old fashioned way of measuring the heights of these mountains using angles and maths.
Nowadays, of course, we’ve GPS and satellites for things like that.
There is a man-made emergency shelter structure, built just to the right of this trigonometry point, which is higher than this cairn.
There were too many people around to take a photo of that, and not much to see due to the cloud cover anyway.
Head on over to this site to see those images and other structures located on the summit without cloud, should you want to.
We manage to make it back down to the bottom by about 2.30pm.
So, overall we did it in about 7 hours. The guides recommend allowing 7 – 9 hours for the whole round trip.
I put the camera away to concentrate on getting back down in one piece.
You don’t need me to tell you, as you probably already know, but most accidents occur coming down mountains, so I like to keep both hands free.
Lynne and I headed to The Glen Nevis Restaurant and Lounge Bar to celebrate where she enjoyed a well deserved pint of cider and myself a pint of locally produced ale.
That evening we met up with Liam and Catherine for a fabulous dinner in the Alexandra Hotel in Fort William.
It wasn’t a late night, as you can imagine we were pretty tired out. We slept well in the tent that night, only awoken once during the night by a torrential downpour!
Touring around Lochaber and Achnacarry Sunday 23rd August
As the weather forecast looked good for Sunday, we had decided to have a bit of a drive.
Fort William is situated in the area of Lochaber which has stunning scenery. There’s plenty to see and do, not to mention the rich history of the area.
I’d also wanted to visit the ancestral home, Achnacarry, of my family clan Cameron for many years now, so today was that ideal opportunity.
Travelling to Achnacarry you have to stop and pay your respects at the Commando Memorial.
During the 2nd World War, Achnacarry was their base, and this whole area trained 25,000 Commandos during that time.
The Commandos went through such intense training here to qualify for that accolade.
Many didn’t make it. But, many did and went on to be one of the most affective and feared fighting forces in the world.
This memorial is a tribute to those feats of the past, the also the continuing bravery and lives lost by British servicemen today.
Above, the gates to Achnacarry estate and castle.
The gates are emblazoned with the Cameron motto “Aonaibh Ri Chéile,”.
Roughly translated the moto means “Unite” or “Let Us Unite“.
Situated in the grounds of the Achnacarry estate, and built in a renovated and previously derelict old post office, the Clan Cameron Museum, tells the history of the clan from the 14th century to the present day.
The Camerons were instrumental in joining and supporting bonnie Prince Charlie and taking part in the Jacobite uprising in 1745.
The museum is a wealth of historical facts and information as well as having many historical artifacts and memorabilia to see.
Lady Lynne surveys her estate here. Lol 😛
Achnacarry castle above. Seen here, through the trees.
Where the current 27th chief, Donald Angus Cameron, known to the Camerons, simply as “Locheil” lives with his wife and family.
Naturally, this is a private residence, and this is as close as we could get.
But actually we did see the chief when he drew up at the museum to drop someone off.
One of those moments where you really don’t know what to do. I think I stared. How rude. Should I not have bowed? 😮
So, the weather forecast was good, as I mentioned earlier.
Beautiful, warm and sunny. But windy. In fact extremely windy with gusts enough to make you have to hold your ground.
The white crests on the waves here in Loch Lochy demonstrating that fact.
I took this picture driving back to the camp site.
Ben Nevis is actually the third peak from the left.
You could possibly have seen off the top today!
But the conditions up there would have been pretty dangerous and likely you would have been blown off and ended up in Norway!!
So, here is where I explain about the reasons for our early retreat.
Does the state of the tent say enough? 😐
We returned to the camp site for what we had planned and hoped, to be a chilled out Sunday afternoon.
Snacking on olives and bread, a glass of wine in the sunshine and a reading of our books. We’d even bought in steak and salad for our dinner too!
Unfortunately, relaxing in the sun, just wasn’t to be.
No matter how many times we replaced and hammered the tent pegs back into the ground, they just would not hold in the wet saturated ground.
The fierce gusts of wind instantly whipping the pegs right back out of the ground again.
And so, reluctantly, we packed up. A day earlier than planned.
We headed home on what should have been a 3 hour drive back to Glasgow.
Unfortunately a series of accidents on our usual route home and indeed what would have been the alternative choice route home meant we had to take the third option a very long 100 mile coastal detour.
The whole journey took five hours instead of three!
Still, looking on the bright side there was some pretty stunning scenery on that route home.
And, at least the weekend wasn’t in any way challenging with the rain, like Loch Brandy! We did what we came to do, and enjoyed every minute of it. 😀
This has been an extremely long post. Thanks for reading and following. I really do hope you enjoyed it, and if so please feel free to add your comments below.
YAY now I’ve summited Ben Nevis. I loved going for the hike with you! The changes in the terrain and environment remind me of Kauai, where you can experience just about everything on a single walk. After reading my book on the Hebrides, I don’t doubt those winds for a second. I’d be amazed if anything stayed put!
Going to the bathroom must be eventful…
I’m glad you enjoyed the hike Suz, there will be more! 🙂
The thing with the wind is, I actually had our 2 tents with us. The large one you saw in the photographs, which is more “comfortable”, and allows us to sit inside it when it’s raining, and a smaller one. We would have put the smaller one up first had we known the wind would have got so bad as it’s more “secure” in the wind!
As for going to the bathroom….bahahahahaha 😉
Omg, your pictures are so great! I’ve got to got to got to get in a few walks before the weather gets worse (ooh I hate even thinking about that). I’m gonna check out more of your walking adventures. I want to try and do something this Sunday if weather permits so who knows, maybe I’ll throw a photo or two up. I definitely need to invest in some hiking boots, that’s for sure!
Hey Erin, the weather forecast (so far) for Sunday looks good. You might be able to get out and do Ben Lomond which is only an hours drive away from us. 🙂
If I didn’t already have commitments for the Sunday, I’d be joining you!
Neil – your pictures of Ben Nevis or “the mountain with its head in the clouds” and Achnacarry are STUNNING! Love the photos of the burn! I wouldn’t know what to do if I saw Donald Angus Cameron either – I’d probably have starred too! So sad y’all had to cut your trip short – but, way to go focusing on the bright side of it all!
Thank you Shashi, I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the pictures. There were so many I took and it was difficult to choose from which ones were going to tell the story best. Fortunately, as I mentioned, Lynne helped out in selecting the pictures, otherwise this probably wouldn’t have been published this week! 🙂
Yeah, it was disappointing having to leave early, and I didn’t want to sound negative about that, though tempted to do so. Trying to keep positive whatever life throws at you is something I try and portray throughout my ramblings on this blog! 😀
You seriously go on some of the best adventures, and these are absolutely gorgeous shots. I know what you mean about having the hardest time choosing which pictures to show because you take so many — I struggle with the ams thing all.the.time, but it’s a good problem to have 🙂
Thanks for your comment Amanda 😉 , it’s nice to have those who hike themselves, with an equal love of the great outdoors appreciate your photographs!
Camping and hiking are things of the past for me. I am from WY and used to do that a whole bunch way back when, but now that I live in LA… My “camping” is essentially “glamping” in that… Its when I stay somewhere that isn’t my own home… But still have a bathroom, shower, etc, etc! LOL!
Looks like you had a wonderful time though, getting out there in nature. Nature is neat and quite a beaut if you ask me! lol
Oh, I’m totally with you there GiGi on that “glamping” front!
It’s great to be out in the big outdoors, close to nature with the tent, but then again it’s also nice to still have all those “home” comforts like some warmth, no wind and a bathroom, that’s close by and isn’t a walk away! Lol
Our next trip away, planned for September will indeed have those home comforts. 🙂
i bet those no bake bars tasted divine at the top!it looks like new zealand! gosh, so beautiful!
You cannot imagine (actually I bet you could 😉 )just how good they were!
Thanks Lindsay, I knew you would love appreciate this post and its photos. 😀