This story is written in retrospect. Back in May 2019 we have climbed the Ben Nevis mountain, the highest mountain in United Kingdom. We were spending half term in Glencoe and you can read more about this stay by clicking here. From there, we had a very easy access to Fort William and Ben Nevis itself.
We have picked the most sunny day out of the seven we spend in Scotland. This decision was actually quite a last minute decision. The weather forecast was not impressive for whole week. But, anyone who was ever visiting Scotland, probably agrees that the weather forecast is often not accurate. Also, weather in that area is changing very quickly. You can barley predict what is it going to be next day. Nonetheless, we picked the most sunny day that week and we decided to go for this trip literally evening before. As you can imagine, kids were not impressed.
To be completely honest, I think we should have set off a little bit earlier. However, on that particular day we have arrived to the Glen Nevis Car Park just before 9 am. We have research possible routes before the trip and choose the most popular one Ben Nevis Tourist Path. We have come prepared! Both, equipped with rucksacks full of sandwiches, hot tea, ridicules amount of snacks and plenty of water. After all, we knew this is a all day long trip, kids will be slow and everyone will be tired. So we needed all those little treats!
There are few trail to choose from if you want to hike Ben Nevis. For obvious reasons, we have chosen the easiest one. However, that does not mean it is completely easy! In a fact it is actually quite difficult! But having said that, I must say that it is difficult only because it is very long! And I mean very long! Anyway, you do not have to be super fit to achieve the peak by this trail! You just need a lot of patience and stamina, which our children sadly lack of. Nonetheless, beside being really long the path is not extremely demanding. There is relatively not a lot of scrambling throughout, mostly at the beginning. And from around mid point, the path is just gravel zigzag, somewhat steep route.
Mid point and after
Up to the mid point of the route, we have enjoyed the views of green fields with occasional mountain stream, some rocks here and there. Roughly in the middle of the Tourist Path you can see a waterfall, which is great opportunity for nice picture. I cannot say that the waterfall is big but the scenery is just stunning there! Anything after that point is just rocky, grey, full of gravels and getting colder and colder. I was very surprised how different the weather can be at the foot of the mountain to compare to the higher parts or even the peak.
The zigzag path felt like never ending track! Once we have passed one curve and we thought this is the last one, we have been very disappointed that there was another one just on the front of us. This was a true challenge for our kid’s patience. Therefore, there were moment when I thought I will leave the with Mr Sting and I will continue the journey by myself. Probably, this crossed his mind many times as well! Although, none of us gave up, and after long hours of walking we finally felt like we are approaching to the summit!
Just before we have reached the summit we had to face the snow field! Yes! Snow! At the end of May! Interestingly, this was not a bad thing to experience. After all, it was a nice change of scenery, from boring grey path. Kids definitely liked it! However, this was not the summit just yet. I think, it must have been another 30-40 minutes of walk to the actual peak. Nonetheless, we have managed! We have conquered the Ben Nevis summit! I cannot describe in words how proud I was of my little people! Beside that, we were surprised to see some building ruins on the top of the mountain.
Until then, I did not know that there was a hotel at the peak of Ben Nevis build in Victorian times. From what I have gathered this hotel was only open in the summer season and not for very long period. Still, the remains of this period affects the kid’s imagination! Our Hurricane was asking a lot of questions about that.
What can I say about the descent? Few important things for sure… We have used the same route to go down. The only thing I have remembered from descent was full bladder! Funny? Not really! Unfortunately, there is no toilets on the track, why would they be? Similarly, there is hardly any tree or hedge where you can hide and empty your bladder. There is a toilet on the summit, which really is just a small hut with a roof, and I am not too sure if this structure supposed to be used as toilet. Nonetheless, people were using it as toilet. The queue to this interesting place was extremely long, therefore I have decided to hold it in and go down! After all, I am a nurse! Nurses have usually around 5 litre bladder capacity! 😉
Therefore, the descent was relatively quick! Hurricane had the same problem. We both, ran for life toward the end of the trip just to hide in first bigger hedge! What a relief!
In conclusion, Ben Nevis as a highest mountain in UK is extremely popular hiking destination! If you pick the most popular track, you will not get lost as only what you have to do is follow the crowd. The most popular Tourist Path is fairly easy, even for the novice or child. We have managed to do this trip within 8 hours (there and back). However, be aware of the fact that it is very long and can be boring. Lastly, my advise is to be patient, take a lot of snacks and water and empty your bladder while you can!