Ben Nevis (Gaelic translation ‘Mountain of Heaven’) is the highest point in Scotland and the British Isles, standing at the lofty height of 1343m (roughly 40,00ft). Reaching the summit of this mountain is a long, arduous uphill trek. Undertaking it at night is an unforgettable and arduous challenge, with our way lit only by the moon and our torches. We set off just after sunset and should be at the summit to experience the sunrise. As we descend, we can see the spectacular landscapes open up before us as the day grows lighter. We celebrate our huge achievement with a slap-up breakfast!
Arrive Scotland (Day 1)
There will be transport provided from Glasgow Central train station, departing there at 5pm for the 3-hour drive to Fort William. We gather at our trek start point and have a good meal to boost our energy for the night ahead.
After a thorough briefing, we set off after sunset at approx 10.30pm on our exciting night challenge! Equipped with head torches, our path up the mountain will show up quite easily most of the way. Our ascent kicks off quite steeply, but then settles into a steadier uphill gradient. We climb steadily to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, then will be able to see the terrain on either side of our path change from green vegetation to stony, barren slopes. Trekking up at night is a very different experience than during the day; our senses grow used to the darkness and we can enjoy the silence and the remoteness of this mountain, and the views of the night sky. We now tackle the famous ‘zig-zags’ – a well-maintained section that criss-crosses its way gradually up the otherwise-steep gradient. As we get higher up it will get colder and we will be getting tired; the path is also less clear at points, so we take it steadily and carefully. The sky will be lightening as dawn approaches, and as we crossing the rocky boulder field that marks the approach to the summit, we may be able to make out the cairn that marks the summit – we’ve made it! At the moment, we are the highest people in Britain!
Summit Sunrise (Day 2)
Ascent approx 5-6 hours; descent approx 2-4 hrs
If the weather’s clear, there is no better reward for our efforts than to see the sun rise from the summit. In good visisbility we can enjoy wonderful views over Glen Nevis, Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, as well as the ruins of the observatory at the top of the mountain. The summit is notorious for its cloud cover, however, though at sunrise we may have more luck than later in the day. Expect to get chilly at the top – the summit is on average 9ºC colder than the base. We return the same way, and marvel at the views on the descent as the sun rises higher – it’s amazing to be able to see what we climbed up in the dark! The descent will be much quicker and less arduous, but still tiring and can be hard on the knees. We return to our base for a big celebration breakfast!
Depart Fort William
We depart Fort William and transfer back to Glasgow where the trip ends.
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes all transfers, meals and experienced Discover Adventure leaders and back-up support.
It does not include personal travel insurance (optional), extra food, drinks, souvenirs or personal items, or entrance to any tourist sites you may wish to visit. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
A meal is provided before the ascent of Ben Nevis, and a big breakfast at the end. Snacks to carry with you will also be provided. The food is good and there is plenty of it!
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s leading the trek or making your breakfast! At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Vehicles take the group to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. You should bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. Bags should be waterproofed or lined with plastic bags to protect the contents.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and mobile phones, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The paths we use are generally well-maintained and vary from steps, steep inclines or gradual slopes, to scree and rocky ground. In wet weather it can be slippery in places, and in some areas it can be easy to lose the path. It is not uncommon to be walking on snow as you approach the summit, even in the summer months. In the dark it’s easier to lose your footing or become disoriented, so we take it easy. There will be marshals or lit markers on any sections of the route which are not clear. You will trek approximately 11 miles on Ben Nevis, though it would be a mistake to base your training on this! It’s vital when training to think about the hours you need to walk for and the terrain you are walking on – ie purely uphill, followed by purely downhill.
The mountains that make up the Ben Nevis Range are stunning and beautiful on a good day but this can lead to a false sense of security; mountain environments must always be respected. The summit is cloud-free only 30 days in a year and average rainfall at the top is more than twice as much as that at the base. Weather conditions can change rapidly during the course of a day. This can make a big difference to your safety, particularly if you are ill-equipped. In bad weather, keep close together as a group and watch the weather! Walking in the dark can confuse your sense of direction, and mist, falling snow, rain or wind will make it worse. If you are poorly dressed for bad weather, exposure can rapidly deplete your concentration and energy. Keep a regular check on your location.
Clothing & Equipment
We are trekking in a hazardous mountain environment where we could be exposed to extremes of weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. Our tour leaders may decide to change the route for safety reasons should local conditions dictate. They have the knowledge and experience to make these decisions. Ben Nevis is very popular with walkers and this environment needs the respect of all its users to be preserved. Please walk on the path surface rather than on the vegetation growing beside it, don’t remove stones from the paths and don’t take short-cuts. Please follow the Countryside Code.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front walkers will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
We insist that you have had a tetanus injection in the last 10 years.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s project in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.
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