How Long Does It Take To Climb Ben Nevis? Walk Times On The Mountain Path
How Long Does It Take To Climb Ben Nevis? Walk Times On The Mountain Path

How Long Does It Take To Climb Ben Nevis? Walk Times On The Mountain Path

So, you’ve decided to tackle the Ben. Great stuff 💪💪

Or perhaps you’re considering the climb, but wondering how long it actually takes to walk up this prodigious Scottish mountain?

No worries, you’ve come to the right place!

Top of Ben Nevis, Scotland
On the summit of the Ben

Standing at an imposing 1,345 meters, Ben Nevis is officially the tallest mountain in the UK, with over 150,000 visitors summiting the peak each and every year.

Of these 150,000 hikers, the finishing times for conquering the mountain are unsurprisingly varied.

Fun fact – The world record for completing Ben Nevis is held by Kenneth Stuart, with an unbelievable time of 1 hour, 25 minutes and 34 seconds. Pauline Haworth is officially the fastest lady, with another ridiculous time of 1 hour, 43 minutes and 25 seconds!

How long does it take to climb Ben Nevis?

Bottom of Ben Nevis, National Three Peaks Challenge
At the bottom of the trail, ready to begin

For the purpose of this blog post, we’re just going to run over hiking times for the standard Mountain Path. This is the easiest and most popular trail up Ben Nevis and the track recommended for first timers.

For a more comprehensive breakdown of Ben Nevis, be sure to check out our Beginner’s Guide and ‘Is Ben Nevis Hard To Climb?’ blog posts.

As a generality, finishing times for the mountain path typically fall between the 5-9 hours range. Ascending the mountain path can take 3-5 hours, with a further 2.5-5 hours subsequently needed for the descent.

Several factors will determine how fast you complete Ben Nevis, namely: fitness level, how many breaks you take and the weather conditions when you climb.

Let’s delve deeper into each of these variables below.

Best time of year to climb Ben Nevis?

Top of Ben Nevis, ScotlandA (rare) clear day on the summit

The weather conditions you hike in will have a major influence on your finishing time.

It’s not advocated for novice hikers to attempt the climb around winter, since you’ll need experience with specialist mountaineering equipment such as an ice axe and crampons.

It’s a much easier and safer climb in the summer months. Plus, it gives you a better chance of clear views from the top!

Even if you don’t climb in the winter season however, the weather on the peak is still notoriously unpredictable and home to snowfall pretty much year round.

No matter when you climb, it’s likely you could be faced with any combination of rain, cloud, sleet, snow and strong winds.

Be prepared, because slippery surfaces, a harsh climate and poor visibility will certainly add minutes (possibly hours) to your climb.

Breaks during the Ben Nevis climb

How often you stop for breaks will also impact how long the walk takes.

Some hikers may struggle and require regular breaks, while others may simply want to take their time and enjoy the magnificent scenery on offer throughout the climb.

If you’re blessed with a clear day on the summit, it’s definitely worth spending some time up top to check out the trig point, emergency shelter, ruins and unmatched views of the Scottish Highlands.

Trig Point and Emergency Shelter, Ben Nevis
The Ben Nevis trig point

How fit are you? Climbing times up Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis, Mountain Path, Steep Section

In my experience, the biggest influence on your finishing time is going to be your fitness level.

In general, I’d say most walkers (weather permitting) can be split into the following brackets:

Fell runners – 2-4 hours

Fell runners navigate up and down the peak at a pace that most of us can’t even fathom! Running for time, they most likely aren’t taking any breaks to admire the countryside.

Fit walkers and athletes – 4-5 hours

Walking veterans or athletes fit enough to power up the mountain without much in the way of rests. Keeping a steady pace throughout, hikers completing Ben in this time may very well be doing so as part of the Three Peaks Challenge.

Experienced walkers – 5-6 hours

No stranger to walking, but maybe not super practiced when it comes to tackling the larger peaks. Probably will require a couple breaks here and there, which provides opportunities to admire the views.

Novice walkers – 6+ hours

Hikers attempting Ben Nevis who perhaps don’t go on big walks particularly often. By no means an athlete, but reasonably fit enough to scale the peak at their own pace with plenty of room for breaks along the way.

Ben Nevis walk, Mountain Track, Scotland
Following the Mountain Track

Top tip – For a good estimation of your own hike time, you can always calculate your route times using the Naismith’s Rule.

Safety on the peak of Ben Nevis

As always, safety on Ben Nevis is imperative.

Being the highest point in the UK, the summit also has arguably the most ferocious weather, so please prepare accordingly.

For those new to mountain hiking, be sure to check out our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Tackling Britain’s Tallest Peaks’, which runs you through all the info you need before taking on the Ben.

Happy walking  🚶  🚶