Ben & Glen
No, this is not the name of our children! Ben is Scottish for High Mountain, with Ben Nevis nearby mentioned below and Glen is Scottish for valley, with Glen Nevis the name of the valley that we are situated at the start of. We are passionate about both so if you can’t find the information you were looking for below, please call us.
Glen Nevis is one of the most beautiful and spectacular glens in Scotland. Perfectly u-shaped valleys, spectacular waterfalls, hanging valleys and magnificent mountains are a reminder of the tremendous geological activity which took place millions of years ago.
OLD CURLING POND
A few minutes from Fort William and the guest house the glen starts, marked by a large Boulder on the left of the road by the lay by. Do read the information boards here about Glen Nevis and also the….
Old Curling Pond which is still there. In the past, the fire brigade used to spray water on the area at the end of the day so folk could enjoy a game of curling the next day. Because we are so close to the sea, frosts and snow are less significant than inland.
Cross the green bridge over the River Nevis and turn right a few minutes and take the narrow path on your right towards The Roaring Mill. This short but dramatic waterfall, formed 700 million years ago, can be awe inspiring when the rainfall is at its highest. It is popular with locals for diving and for canoeists who are spoilt for choice on the River Nevis with its abundance of rapids, gorges and twisting channels making it exciting and unpredictable.
Walk on up and the path follows the River Nevis all the way to the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre where you will find the start of the Ben Nevis Walk, alternatively take the south pavement next to the road which runs parallel to the river all the way down the Glen.
Braveheart Car Park (from the famous ‘Braveheart’ film shot in the area) is about a mile down the glen road where you can enjoy many walks, short and long. A short steep walk of about 10 minutes to the right takes you up part of Cow Hill where you marvel at the views of Fort William.
From the car park or further on you can access the famous……
West Highland Way which is a 96 miles long distance walk from Glasgow(North) to Fort William, or perhaps just walk part of one day! You will see lots of very tired walkers on their last leg of the gruelling journey here.
The road continues on past the Glen Nevis Holiday Centre with a large restaurant to stop at for lunch. Drive on another 5-10 minutes to the Lower Falls, which is a great place to view whether it’s a wet or a sunny day. There is a bus that goes right down to the Falls which is at the end of the road. The huge volume of fresh water you see is amazing to watch as it flows downstream towards the sea loch. The Lower Falls is the start point of the annual Glen Nevis River Race which has competitors on an airbed race down the 1.5 miles in icy cold water!
This is one of Scotland’s most impressive waterfalls which is accessed via the Nevis Gorge and has to be one of the best local walks on offer (allow 2 hrs). The gorge path starts at the car park and is on a rocky steep sided path through the beautiful Gorge onto Steall Meadows which opens up dramatically to reveal a hanging valley with Steall Falls cascading down. There is a wire bridge to cross the river, if you dare! This impressive waterfall was featured in a Harry Potter film. The’ Ring of Steall’ is a more challenging hike (9-12 hrs), traversing over 4 Munros that you see from the meadows.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Britain, standing at 1,344metres (4,409ft) above sea level close to Fort William. The mountain is extremely popular with 100,000 estimated ascents a year with ¾ of which use the Tourist Route starting at Glen Nevis with the more experienced discovering the other North Face routes with its ridges and rock faces, particularly popular in the winter.
Although the views in Glen Nevis are splendid, you cannot see the summit of Ben Nevis since you are so close and the lower foothills get in the way of the view. A visit west of Fort William to ‘Neptune’s Staircase’ has fabulous views of the ‘Ben’.
Ben Nevis’s altitude, sea location and topography lead to cool and cloudy weather conditions, very dangerous to ill-equipped walkers. Fog and gales are a problem on the summit and rainfall over double compared to nearby Fort William. Snow can be found on the mountain almost all year, especially in the gullies of the North Face. During the summer the weather can change with alarming speed and a sunny day can quickly become a confused and disorientated struggle for survival.
WALKING BEN NEVIS
The common route to the summit follows the Tourist Path on the western side of the mountain and although thousands of visitors reach the summit, it still proves a difficult mountain to navigate in bad visibility. It should not be attempted without good planning as bad weather can blow in very quickly and the temperature on the summit 9 degrees colder than it is at sea level.
Check the mountain weather report the day before. www.mwis.org.uk/wh.php. If it sounds really bad – don’t go! Your safety is paramount.
Even in the summer it can snow on the summit and visibility can be poor. If you are lucky to have clear skies on the summit, you can see as far out to the islands of Skye, Rum and Small Isles.
How long it will take depends on many factors – your fitness, the weather, your experience and how many people are in your group. The average walk time is between 6 and 8 hours. Eat your lunch on your stop before the summit as this is the most arduous section and if it is clear on top, you will want to savour the view not your sandwich. Also, as soon as you stop, you start to get very cold and you need your gloves on.
BEN NEVIS RACE
The earliest recorded timed run up and down Ben Nevis was by William Swan of Fort William on 1895 and took 2 hours, 41 minutes. The present day record, starting from Claggan Park, is almost half this time. This grueling run is not for the fainthearted. It is held on the first Saturday in September and is restricted to a maximum of 500 runners due to the fragile mountain environment.
BEN NEVIS DISTILLERY
The Ben Nevis Distillery has been producing quality whiskies at the foot of the mountain since 1825 by John McDonald (known as “Long John”). Today the distillery which is one of Scotland’s oldest, produces a variety of blended and single malts using the water from the stream that flows from Ben Nevis. It has a visitor centre which offers guided tours of the distilling process and is open all year round.