Author Topic: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids  (Read 870 times)

Jrterror

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Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« on: 08:37:58, 28/06/19 »
Hi again
Well our 'One Mountain Per Month' is going swimmingly.
We've done, Kinder Scout, Bleaklow, Ingleborough, Whernside, The Merrick in Scotland and just last week, Helvellyn.
We're looking to spend a little time up in Scotland in the summer and want to fit in a couple of 'Mountains'. Obviously, Ben Nevis has got to be one of them. Haha. As stated in the title we have two kids aged 9 and 11. So, want some Ben Nevis route suggestions that would be suitable for their age please.


We climbed Helvellyn, starting at Thirlemire. On the ascent we had to stop quite a few times to be honest. I'm not sure if that was down to the fitness of my youngest or his mum. Ha. I think it probably took around 1 hours to climb to the summit. However, they did really well, because the total miles that day was just short of 11 miles, completed in around 8 hours. I tell you to give you an idea of their fitness level.


And then any suggestions for other 'Mountains' in that area of Scotland that would be ideal and respective routes would be greatly appreciated


Many thanks
D

Jac

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #1 on: 10:45:55, 28/06/19 »

I really admire you and how lucky are the children.  O0
Plenty of folk on the forum who know the Ben better than me; I have only used the 'pony path'. The kids will probably romp it but don't underestimate it.
The first time I went  up, 22 yrs ago as a finale to the West Highland Way, with superb weather all the way it really seemed just a very steep walk in the park. Last time, still 6yrs ago, it felt very different - not so much the ascent, though that was slower, but the descent.
It was August. The weather was good but there was still a snowfield in what I think is called Mclean's steep then as we neared the summit cloud came down obscuring the path and gulley edges. A wind got up and with next to no visibility, hunkered down among the rocks on the summit plateau we were very glad to have hats and gloves and hot drinks. The descent, for me was painful. For the first time I realised I had knees as I had to bum shuffle down some of the deeper 'steps'. People, especially the young, are very kind. Several stopped to asked if I was alright :-[ .
Happily, I was able to hobble the 200yds from our tent to the pub that evening.
Take care and have a great day
So many paths, so little time

forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #2 on: 13:11:26, 28/06/19 »
Realistically not sure I'd send kids that age up any route but the tourist track unless they were child prodigy athletes or something. 


The Ben will take around 5-8 hours for most people at a solid pace so you want to be sure you aren't going to get dehydrated or short of food, nor caught out with the weather.  There are visitor centre toilets by the car park except they're usually closed in the early evening (stupidly).  Yes, I'm aware if you're fit and don't stop you can do it faster, but I'd always recommend being conservative when you don't know someones fitness.  You'll often get a fair wind and visibility being limited so take waterproofs, a warm layer, decent gloves and a hat as it's often deceptively cold at the top even if the valley is quite cozy.


Lastly, it's basically like walking up and down a stone escalator all the way up and down so I'd recommend walking sticks both for balance and taking some of the weight off your knees, doubly so if it's slippy - if you don't use them, that's fine, but be aware it's a bit of a slog.  Personally I found the tourist route a bit of a drag so maybe plan to picnic at the tarn and break the hike up a bit?


I'm not sure how you turned Helvellyn from Thirlmere into an 11-miler with a 90 minute ascent.  It sounds like you fit in a bit more of a full mountain day for them, perhaps taking in most of the ridge to the south and then descending via Grisedale Tarn and then taking the woodland track back to the car park?  In which case it was probably easier to do it anti-clockwise and cut out the initial steep slog.  Not being critical, just curious!

BuzyG

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #3 on: 13:32:18, 28/06/19 »
The Ben is a proper test of any ones fitness.  Not sure I would take a 9 year old up.  The pony track has to be one of the most boring paths in the UK.  Though I have only walked down it. ;)

The best bits are around the back.  The route over CMD has to be the one to use for any first view of the Ben, IMHO.   I would enjoy a few other hills, for a few years and come back to the Ben via CMD when the whole family are a bit stronger. O0 

Patrick1

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #4 on: 15:12:01, 28/06/19 »
I'd be a bit wary of Ben Nevis with kids of that sort of age, simply because its really quite a long slog with relatively limited rewards, other than the knowledge that you've "done" it. When my kids were that sort of age we tried to pick off the hills that give maximum "wow" factor for minimum (though never insignificant!) effort.


I'm more familiar with hills further north, in which case I'd be suggesting Stac Pollaidh north of Ullapool (short, fairly steep, but spectacular cliff girt summit and amazing views across the flat landscape it rises from), or, if you want to "bag" a Munro, one with a short walk in - Blaven on Skye is one I've ticked with my kids around that age, and if you're in the far north Ben Hope also has a remarkably short horizontal distance (though steep enough that my teenage son was debating whether we shouldn't be using trigonometry to calculate the distance along the hypotenuse rather than just the distance on the map!!). Slightly closer to where you're going to be, if you find yourself up towards Arisaig then take the ferry out to Eigg - the very straightforward walk up the 1300' Sgurr of Eigg gives rewards far in excess of its height - my mother in law still looks back at the photos from the time we took her there saying she can't believe she got up a "proper mountain", which is what it feels like despite its height.


I'm less well up on similar options around the Ben Nevis area, but hopefully someone better acquainted with the area might have some suggestions for mountains that give you more "bang for your buck" than Ben Nevis.
« Last Edit: 15:16:39, 28/06/19 by Patrick1 »

Slogger

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #5 on: 16:19:09, 28/06/19 »
The 'Tourist Path" from Glen Nevis is the only real option when taking kids up the Ben. However you must be prepared for any weather, being so sea bound it can change from one extreme to the other very quickly. Even on a cloudless hot day it can catch a cold breeze on top and large snow ice cornices even in mid summer can be sizeable. Reads up on the specific navigation issues for getting off the summit in bad visibilty, it requires good compass use ability, to avoid Gardaloo Gully which cuts into the plateau, and steer you away from it enough but not far enough for you encouter Five Finger Gully on the Glen Nevis side. basically with kids avoid the ben if covered in cloud which unfortunately is more often than not.

richardh1905

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #6 on: 17:47:31, 28/06/19 »
As Slogger says, the only easy option is the main tourist path from Glen Nevis. We (my wife, 11 year old son and I) went up last summer, and the tourist path is straightforward enough We saw all manner of people on the hill, quite busy and quite cosmopolitan at times, and we came across an 8 year old with his father; he made it.

But do not underestimate 'The Ben'. We were in the clouds on top, and it was certainly time to put an extra layer on when we sat down for a snack! Also, it is easy to stray off route on the sprawling summit plateau when descending, but there is a line of well built cairns, and take note of the circular stone shelter after the zig zags on the way up - a good landmark to look out for on the way down.

Also - do not be tempted to take short cuts - especially the horrendously eroded Red Burn short cut - MUCH better to stick to the main path. Water can be had at the Red Burn, or at a stream a bit lower down, but there's not much after that.
« Last Edit: 17:54:11, 28/06/19 by richardh1905 »

richardh1905

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #7 on: 17:51:15, 28/06/19 »
If the clouds are down, or even if it is raining, and the you don't mind a bit of a drive, head across to Aviemore/Glen More and tackle lowly but satisfying Meall a' Bhuachaille via beautiful Lochan Uaine and the Ryvoan Bothy. I mention this as it is often drier around Aviemore. Loads of lower level walks in the beautiful Caledonian Forest, too.

Closer to the Ben, the Nevis Gorge / Steall Falls is a 'must do' short walk.

sparnel

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #8 on: 20:54:39, 28/06/19 »
Check out Ben Lomond on the eastern side of Loch Lomond. Good straight forward path.
Great YH at the foot too.............(Rowardenan).

Jrterror

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #9 on: 12:24:59, 29/06/19 »



I'm not sure how you turned Helvellyn from Thirlmere into an 11-miler with a 90 minute ascent.  It sounds like you fit in a bit more of a full mountain day for them, perhaps taking in most of the ridge to the south and then descending via Grisedale Tarn and then taking the woodland track back to the car park?  In which case it was probably easier to do it anti-clockwise and cut out the initial steep slog.  Not being critical, just curious!
[/quote


Hi. Iforgotmypassword.
Nice username by the way
Your guess was spot on. Ive just looked at my track on Viewranger and we it actually took us around 2 hours to get to the summit. Haha. You know what they say about time when having fun. Haha. We walked across the top, dropped down a very steep section of hill overlooking Grisedale Tarn, then followed the track through the woods, down by the main road.


Well done

Jrterror

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #10 on: 12:30:41, 29/06/19 »
What can I say. Loads of input. Thank you very much.


BuzyG, what's CMD?


I've not researched anything to do with 'The Ben' yet and whilst I'm here typing I may as well ask ... where does the tourist trail begin? Where can I find the route?


Or shall I stop being lazy, and check it out. Haha


Thanks again for the input.
D

BuzyG

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #11 on: 21:26:17, 30/06/19 »
CMD is Carm Mor Dearg, it is the 5th highest mountain in Britain and I linked to Ben Nevis via the CMD Arete.  It's a full days walk going that way and another 300m of climbing.  The views more than make up for the extra effort, as you have The Ben in sight from the interesting side the whole way up.  It's 12 tough miles though.  Not a walk for your kids for a few years yet.

The ponnie track, also called the tourist route,  starts from Glen Nevis.  It's the easiest, quickest and most boring route up.  It is still 1300+ meters.  If you enjoy steps and lots of company then your on a winner.
« Last Edit: 21:38:51, 30/06/19 by BuzyG »

Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #12 on: 21:35:43, 01/07/19 »
If one is blessed with fine settled weather, then the Glen Nevis tourist path up Benn Nevis is achievable by most fit an active walkers.
The only associated issues with Benn Nevis, is its extreme height, and cloud covered plateau for over 300days of the year.

The tourist path up the mountain, is very safe and straight forward, as long as visibility is excellent, as the huge plateau area at the summit is confusing even in clear weather.

Thousands ascend its slopes every year, and thankfully casualty numbers are quite low, considering its popularity.

Taking a very active nine year old  keen walker, up the mountain is achievable, as long as the weather is kind.

Ive been up to its summit only once, and i could describe it like climbing Snowdon, but adding at least one to two hours to your walk.

If the weather is kind, and visibility is good, then the tourist path up Benn Nevis should pose few difficulties to any active walker, even one as young as nine.

Like any mountain, especially the tallest in the Uk, its summit rarely goes above 4C throughout the year, so go prepared even in lovely weather.

If the weather is at all changeable, especially mist, then give the mountain a miss, as there is simply no shelter whilst climbing up the never ending tourist track.

If you have clear visibility throughout the walk, then its just one very long slog of around 3hrs to 4hrs the top, and about 2.5hrs down.

I found no difficulties when climbing to its summit, even though the sheer size of the boulder strewn summit took my breath away.

The only challenge is navigating this huge summit plateau in mist, as i found it had many smaller paths going off in various directions, and if the old weather station buildings cannot be seen clearly, its no place to lose ones bearings, as its always bitterly cold up there.

Choose the best weather possible, go fully prepared with very warm clothing, particularly a hat that covers your ears, and very warm gloves.

Go with an open mind, and if the weather looks uncertain during your adventure, do not be ashamed to turn around.

Unlike Snowdon, Benn Nevis is nearly a thousand feet higher, and theres no warm inviting cafe, or train offering assistance for those out of their depths.

Just go prepared, and if at all possible visit when the weather is fine and settled.

Its just one of those mountains on any keen walkers tick list, and now ive reached its summit, i do not feel any urge to re visit it.

The only summit on my do before i die list, is Benn Hope, Scotlands most northerly Munroe.

Ive stood several miles away from it, outside a posh coach that took me along the great North Coast 500 route, on our way to the Kyle of Tongue.

It just had that magic, come and climb me grip on me, so some day, i will make the terribly long journey back to the top of Scotland to hopefully reach its summit.


No, Benn Nevis, in fine settled weather should pose few climbing issues to a young walker, especially someone already with a keen and active interest in hill walking.
« Last Edit: 21:40:58, 01/07/19 by Dyffryn Ardudwy »

richardh1905

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #13 on: 22:24:58, 01/07/19 »
Its just one of those mountains on any keen walkers tick list, and now ive reached its summit, i do not feel any urge to re visit it.

That is how I feel about "The Ben" to tell you the truth - something to be got out of the way before moving on to better things, like...

Quote
The only summit on my do before i die list, is Benn Hope, Scotlands most northerly Munroe.
Ive stood several miles away from it, outside a posh coach that took me along the great North Coast 500 route, on our way to the Kyle of Tongue.
It just had that magic, come and climb me grip on me, so some day, i will make the terribly long journey back to the top of Scotland to hopefully reach its summit.


Now you're talking!
http://www.walkingforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=37057.0
« Last Edit: 22:28:02, 01/07/19 by richardh1905 »

Owen

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Re: Ben Nevis routes suitable for kids
« Reply #14 on: 05:53:55, 02/07/19 »

The only associated issues with Benn Nevis, is its extreme height, and cloud covered plateau for over 300days of the year.

Like any mountain, especially the tallest in the Uk, its summit rarely goes above 4C throughout the year, so go prepared even in lovely weather.


Not sure where you're getting your statistics from but I think as usual that is very exaggerated.


Yes like all mountains it gets bad weather but it can also be fine. One thing that's not been pointed out so far, is that as well as being higher, you're starting out from very near sea level. This makes it a long day out. There are other paths on the mountain but there all much more difficult routes.