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!
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 cross 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!
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!
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 communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They 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 medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. 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. We are always available if you need advice.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.