Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg ridge

A very interesting alternative, full of variations, to the normal route to reach the summit of the famous Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Great Britain. It is a wilder variant than the normal route. Without being too technical it remains a solid hike. It allows walkers the opportunity to contemplate the very famous north face of Ben Nevis.

Technical sheet
No. 4098397
A Highland walk posted on 30/07/18 by meteorum. Update : 16/01/20
Calculated time Calculated time: 8h45[?]
Distance Distance : 9.52mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 4997ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 5003ft
Highest point Highest point : 4377ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 72ft
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Highland
Starting point Starting point : N 56.799842° / W 5.067659°
Download : -


Start Point and Finish Point: Glen Nevis SYHA Youth Hostel. You can even start at Fort William itself. By starting out on the right bank of the River Glen and taking the road to, for example, Achintee House. From the youth hostel, located on the left bank, a bridge is located exactly opposite. Ideal, especially as the place is friendly and hosts a large number of hikers.

(D/A) In front of the youth hostel, take the bridge to cross the right bank of the Nevis river. A wide well cared-for path leads, fairly directly, to a sort of elongated plateau where a small loch is perched (small loch: lochan).

(1) Leave the wide path that heads due south to the right to continue north and follow Loch Meall an t-Suidhe, at the same time as going around the Ben. Here you will come to the peaty and spongy terrain of the Highlands. Also leave almost the entire crowd looking to access the summit and head towards the foot of the northern slope of the famous Munro. It is a pleasant walk, with almost no changes in elevation, to the private CIC Hut.

(2) After observing the impressive north face of Ben Nevis, which will remain in view for hiker for a while, it is now a question of getting to the ridge and reaching Carn Mor Dearg. There is no more trail: go up the grassy and stony slope as best as you can to reach the ridge, then the summit, at an altitude of 1220m.

(3) Continue the obvious ridge to the base of the entirely rocky part of the Ben. There, the ridge widens somewhat and steepens. Do your best, maintain the overall orientation and make use of the odd cairn. The rocks are quite large, dark and solid. Reach the summit of Ben Nevis, which is actually a vast plateau.

(4) To the north of it, find the starts of the routes observed from below, in particular the famous falls.

(5) All that remains is to cross the plateau, which looks almost lunar, towards the west (cairns) to re-join the path of the normal route.

(1) Take the outward route to reach the Youth Hostel (D/A) safely.

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 79ft - Auberge de jeunesse SYHA Glen Nevis
1 : mi 1.61 - alt. 1975ft - Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe - Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe
2 : mi 3.46 - alt. 2185ft - CIC Hut - CIC Hut
3 : mi 4.14 - alt. 3898ft - Carn Mor Dearg - Carn Mor Dearg
4 : mi 5.39 - alt. 4377ft - Ben Nevis Summit - Ben Nevis
5 : mi 5.46 - alt. 4360ft - Outlets of the famous Ben Nevis falls - Ben Nevis
D/A : mi 9.52 - alt. 79ft - Auberge de jeunesse SYHA Glen Nevis

Useful Information

Note 1:
Four tools are very nearly essential to go hiking in the Highlands:
- Protective clothing against rain and wind.
- An Ordnance Survey map.
- A compass.
- The ability to use the two tools above to navigate.

Indeed, everywhere in Scotland, in particular up at the summits, even if the altitude is modest compared to the massifs of continental Europe, the weather conditions are very changeable. Visibility in particular is often very poor.

Note 2:
Once you have passed the lochan (1), you can find your way back to the ridge without going through the CIC hut. Indeed, the terrain is easy, with no marked path: you just have to choose when to return to the ridge at the best place. Returning to it at Can Beag Dearg at an altitude of 1010m is a less continuously steep climb than a more southerly approach. Carn Mor Dearg peaks at 1220m.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.