mountain routes

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the walking routes


This guidance comes from a very useful 3 Peaks site (

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis lies in the Scottish Highlands, near Fort William, and the track we took was the established tourist route from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, (GR 128718). This is classed as the most practical short route, and involves a steep climb from the Youth Hostel, rather than the longer but shallower starting point from the track that starts behind the distillery on the A82 by Achintree, (GR 126729). This Pony track route was constructed to service the meteorological observatory that opened in 1883, and remains wholly intact. It traverses the SW side of Meall an t-Suidhe, then zigzags the broad west slopes of Ben Nevis to the exposed summit plateau, and consists of a rocky path over steep boulder fields. The problems encountered on this route include the cornices at the head of Gardyloo Gully and Tower Gully, mistaken descent into Five Finger Gully and crossing the top of Red Burn. Despite all this, the Pony Track remains the safest route to take. Ben Nevis is 1344m (4409ft) high, and involves 1325m (4347ft) of climbing from the Hostel which is 30 m above sea level. The route difficulty is regarded as intermediate to strenuous and the distance from the start to the summit is approximately 4.75 miles (7.6km).

Snow remains on the top of Ben Nevis well into the summer making it particularly hazardous. In low visibility conditions it is wise to use a map and compass and follow the recommended route of descent.


OS Landranger (1:50,000) no 41. Outdoor Leisure 1:25,000 no 38: Harvey's Walkers Map (1:40,000), and Superwalker (1:25,000) Ben Nevis - this includes a 1:12,500 enlargement of the Ben's summit.

Tourist Information: Fort William.

 We started out from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel marked with the telephone symbol.



Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike involves a mere 913m (2995ft) of climbing, and is the smallest of the three mountains on the challenge at 977m (3206ft). Past experience from other walkers suggests that the best route to choose is the one starting from the National Trust Camp site at Wasdale Head, (GR 181076). Starting at Seathwaite has its advantages in that it's easier to get to from Scotland, and saves total driving time, but the walk itself takes a lot longer. Also navigation from this side is more difficult in low visibility conditions or at night. We all felt that we made the right decision by starting out at Wasdale Head. Whichever way you climb Scafell, it's always going to be tough. It's not a very touristy mountain like Ben Nevis, and especially Snowdon, which has a cafe and a train station at the top. Thus you are going to find yourself on a rubbish track rather than a well-groomed motorway. Scafell was unpleasant and it was probably just as well that we climbed it in the dark, and got it over and done with. The terrain is a rocky path from rough crag to scree and has a rock summit. The route difficulty is regarded as strenuous. The distance from the start to the summit is approximately 2.5 miles (4km).


OS Landranger (1:50,000) no 90 and 89: OS Outdoor Leisure (1:25,000) no 6 and 4: Harvey's Walkers Map (1:40,000) and Superwalker (1:25,000) Lakeland West.

Tourist Information: Windermere, Keswick or Ambleside.

A = Scafell Pike
B = Scafell
C = Lingmell
E = Wasdale Head
F = Styhead Pass

H = Hollow Stones

1 = Route via Brown Tongue (the route we took)
= Route via Mickledore



Mount Snowdon

Snowdon is the mountain that I have visited most frequently, and the one that I regard as the nicest. I've climbed it from three directions: The 5 mile Llanberis path that follows close to the railway, The traverse over Crib Goch, and the Miners' Track that starts out at Pen-Y-Pass. Of the three routes, the Llanberis Path is the flattest but the longest. Crib Goch, which is a sharp arete can be downright dangerous and bad for those with vertigo, while the Miners' track which is relatively flat until the later, short, sharp, steeper sections are reached is probably the best. Originally an access track to the mines, the Miners' track begins with an easy gradient to Llyn Llydaw and then onto Glaslyn, after which it joins the Pyg track and zigzags up to Bwlch Glas. The Pyg Track which lies parallel to the Miners' track also starts from Pen-Y-Pass but is slightly higher up and slightly more difficult. The total ascent from the Pen-Y-Pass starting point is 725m (2381ft) with the summit standing at 1085m (3560ft). The terrain consists of a rocky path and craggy corries with a steep headwall climb to an exposed col (Bwlch Glas) which leads on to a broad summit ridge up by the railway track. The route difficulty is regarded as intermediate, and from the start to the summit the distance is approximately 4 miles (6.4km). The return route follows the same path. Remember though to stop the watch at Pen-Y-Pass car park on the way back, hopefully under 24 hours. (GR 647557.)


OS Landranger (1:50,000) no 115: OS Outdoor Leisure (1:25,000) no 17: Harvey's Walkers Map (1:40,000) and Superwalker (1:25,000) Snowdonia West.

Tourist information: Llanberis.

A = Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)
B = Garnedd Ugain
C = Crib Goch
D = Y Lliwedd

1 = Snowdon Horseshoe
2 = PYG Track
3 = Miners Track (the route we took in green)


Mountain time breakdowns

Most challengers start their watches at the bottom of Ben Nevis and stop them at the bottom of Mount Snowdon. There is much speculation though as to which time of day you should start. Our original plan to start at 06.00hrs would have meant us being at the respective summits at 09.00hrs, 20.10hrs and 04.30hrs. We didn't really want to finish so early in the morning though and so therefore followed the schedule below. The times are accurate as we had a databack facility on our cameras (very useful for working out how well you did when you get home).


15.00 base of Ben Nevis
18:00 summit of Ben Nevis
20:00 base of Ben Nevis

02.45 base of Scafell Pike
05:10 summit of Scafell Pike
06:30 base of Scafell Pike

11.15 base of Snowdon
13.30 summit of Snowdon
14.35 base of Snowdon