Thursday, October 21, 2021

The King of the Mountains

In 2014 there was a review on Trip Advisor about Ben Nevis.

It read something like-

 “very steep and too high, boring. After going up mount Snowdon by train in Wales I’d forgotten just how high some mountains can get. And they don’t come much higher than this one - that’s for sure. LOL! This was almost a FULL day’s climbing and my girlfriend was crying at one point.

When we did get to the top there was nothing there (Mount Snowdon has a pub, restaurant and toilets at its top). Luckily we had brought some sandwiches and drinks, so anyone else climbing this one - BE WARNED- there are NO facilities at the top. The climb basically went on for far too long and the last part was particularly steep and difficult. It was  also cloudy at the top so the view was non-existent. The long walk back down was boring and again took too long. It was a great relief to get back to our B&B in Fort William for a hot soapy bath and the joys of a flushing toilet with soft toilet rolls. This attraction is free but I honestly couldn’t imagine anyone - and I mean anyone - paying to climb this. The people of Wales have the right idea. If your highest mountain is a bit steep and a long walk up for a lot of people just build a railway to the top! Brilliant!”

What a load of …..!  Anyway that review has been viral now since it was written, and folk just keep adding to it. My own thoughts on the subject in question were penned as such.

‘Ben Nevis is hard to  find, they didn’t even put it near a road. It’s hard to see as it hides behind other mountains, you’d think they’d put it at the front. And worst of all, it’s not pointy at the top, the way a proper mountain should be.’

At least what I said is true. Ben Lomond is kind of lovely, and  easy to see, nice car park, good  coffee house at the bottom and  the top is clear by 12 noon most of the time.

Ben Nevis, past the top of Glen Coe and over a bit is the  highest peak in the UK standing at  1345 metres. The second highest peak in the UK is  very close by.

It’s a bit of a weird one, as in  Fort William the top of the Ben is right there, towering over the  village. It sits  on the right as you head north,  the water is to the left. Yet  driving past the village to turn right to drive up Glen Nevis, the mountain manages to jump behind another mountain and  now sits on the other side of the road. I still can’t quite reconcile it in my head.

We were staying at the flood plain known as the Glen Nevis camp site, near the Ben Nevis visitors centre and the Ben Nevis  restaurant.  The camp site is right at the start of the walk to climb the ben. But you still can't see the peak at all. We have been here for three days, and still not seen it but it will appear as large as life when we are sitting at the traffic lights in Fort William.

Some stats- it takes nine hours to climb, up and down. It’s good hill walking all the way, on a designated path, come off the path and you’ll be in trouble.  About 100,000 people a year climb it,  some needing rescued.

It’s not pretty.  As I've said,  it looks in profile like the head of a bull elephant,  set in a landscape of three other bull elephants.

 The ben was once a massive  volcano which blew up and then collapsed in on itself. The name in gaelic translates as the mountain with its head in the clouds. Some translate it as the venomous  mountain.

 From the tip, you can see Ireland on a clear day.

An old  Observatory sits on the summit, every stone carried up by pony or by human. It was opened in 1883 and functioned for twenty years before being blown away. The ruins of it can be used in an emergency... for hiding behind I mean.


 The record is one hour forty minutes.

 When my dad did his national service, one of the fitness tasks was to run up Ben Nevis, get some snow and run back down again before the snow melted.

 He did it of course,  being rather canny, he used a flask!

Caro Ramsay



  1. I think I would have liked your father. Smart man!

  2. I'm still laughing at the cartoon at the end, which makes up for the sweating I did at the thought of the climb!

  3. Your dad was a smart guy!!

    Great post! Maybe someday I can get over there and climb this too :) (And like Jeff, I love the cartoon at the end.)

  4. Bravo, your dad, Caro. My dad, an avid and talented golfer (He shot his age between 74 and 85!) said his favorite joke quite often, “the Scots: a race of people who invented golf and called it a game, and invented the bagpipes and called it music.”