- Hiking, Natural Wonders Type
- Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
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The most popular trail in the Scottish Highlands is also one of its most challenging. Ben Nevis, the U.K.'s tallest mountain, sits just 7 miles southeast of Fort William. Nevis clocks in around 4,406 feet high, yielding incredible views at the top for those tough enough to ascend its summit. Of all the 125,000 travelers who visit the mountain per year, only 25,000 successfully conquer Ben. The trail is nearly 11 miles total and, according to the Fort William tourism board, takes about seven hours to complete (four hours up and three hours down), though some hikers reported that it can take less time in ideal weather conditions. Travelers who did reach the top say the trek was completely worth it for the unmatched views of the Highlands.
Echoing the concerns of the Fort William tourism board, hikers said the weather conditions in Ben Nevis are unpredictable and can change rapidly, even during a perfect summer's day. Always check the weather beforehand. Wind conditions in particular are known to get more intense the closer you get to the summit, regardless of the temperature. And because the terrain is entirely composed of rock, you'll want to wear the proper hiking shoes. Plan to carry lots of water and snacks, and know that the only restrooms available are at the bottom of the mountain.
The Fort William tourism board advises against hiking Ben Nevis from October to May. By this time, snow is present on the mountain and hiking is unsafe unless you're carrying ice axes and crampons. During summer (peak season), prepare to contend with lots of crowds.
If you didn't rent a car, you can reach Fort William by coach bus only. If you purchased a Highland Rover ScotRail pass, the bus route to Fort William is covered. If you don't have the pass, you can reach Fort William via Stagecoach. Stagecoach also offers bus service to Ben Nevis. For more information on Ben Nevis, visit the Fort William tourism board's website.
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