Scotland // The Highland region //

Glen Nevis

A ten-minute drive south of Fort William, GLEN NEVIS is among the Highlands’ most impressive glens: a U-shaped glacial valley hemmed in by steep bracken-covered slopes and swaths of blue-grey scree. Herds of shaggy Highland cattle graze the valley floor, where a sparkling river gushes through glades of trees.

A great low-level walk (six miles round-trip) runs from the end of the road at the top of Glen Nevis. The rocky path leads through a dramatic gorge with impressive falls and rapids, then opens out into a secret hanging valley, carpeted with wild flowers, with a high waterfall at the far end. Of all the walks in and around Glen Nevis, however, the ascent of Ben Nevis (4406ft), Britain’s highest summit, inevitably attracts the most attention. Despite the fact that it’s quite a slog up to the summit, and it’s by no means the most attractive mountain in Scotland, in high summer the trail is teeming with hikers, whatever the weather. It can snow round the summit any day of the year, so take the necessary precautions; in winter, of course, the mountain should be left to the experts. The most obvious route to the summit, a Victorian pony path up the whaleback south side of the mountain, built to service the observatory that once stood on the top, starts from the helpful Glen Nevis visitor centre: allow a full day for the climb (8hr).

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