Ben Nevis via CMD Arete

At 1345m, 4411ft Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis ) is the highest point in the British Isles. There are numerous ways to get to the summit. This route takes you along the CMD (Carn Mor Dearg) Arete, which also allows you to summit another Munro, Carn Mor Dearg (1220m).

Its a walk of around 11 miles, and about 1500m of ascent, so give yourselves plenty of time. It can be quite boggy on the way down, so tread careful.

The walk starts in The North Face car park near Torlundy.

How to get there

From Fort William take the A82 north for 2 ½ miles (4km). Turn right at the signpost for Torlundy and look for the Forestry Commission signs leading up a forest road to the parking in the Forest. The car park is at grid reference NN 145 763.

Using SatNav?

PH33 6SW is a postcode opposite the turning for Torlundy.

The first part of the walk is well signposted and takes you through the Leanachan Forest. Follow the signs on a well maintained path to you reach the edge of the forest. You will come to quite a large style.

Climb over the style and follow the well marked path following the water course Allt a' Mhuilinn. Follow the path for about 500m where you will see another path fork off to the left. Keep a close eye out for it, as sometimes it not very clear. By now you should be getting some great views of the infamous North Face of Ben Nevis (weather permitting)

Carry on along this path, which can be quite wet on the lower reaches, you will eventually start to climb up towards Carn Mor Dearg, here the path dries out and starts to turn increasingly rocky. Look to your left and you will see Carn Beag Dearg 995m. (not classed as a Munro but its there if you want to do it). This walk takes you across the lower slopes of Carn Beag Dearg. Continue gaining height till you reach the ridge and in front of you you will see the shapely peak of Carn Mor Dearg. Also turn around and take a look back at the views towards Fort William.

Once you reach the summit of Carn Mor Dearg the way forward is strikingly obvious. Keep to the top of the ridge which curves away to the right towards Ben Nevis. A little rocky with some very basic scrambling in a couple of places, but more or less just a walk. A walk, which I may add, has some amazing views, The North Face of the Ben to your right, and looking left towards the Ring Of Steall in the Mamores. Carry on along the ridge and you will reach the bottom of a scree slope/ boulder field that will take you to the summit plateau of Ben Nevis. This is quite steep and loose in places, so take your time and watch your foot placement. Not long to go now.

Once you reach the top of the steep climb, you will suddenly find yourself popping up, right on the summit plateau of Ben Nevis. Don't be surprised to find that you are not the only one on the summit. In the summer and good weather, there can be quite a few people up there. After all, they have come to see what you have come to see.

On a clear day the path down is very clear, but if the clag has dropped or there is still snow on the ground, then take care and follow a bearing of 231 degrees for 150 metres, and then a bearing of 281 degrees, to pass the most dangerous section. (not sure what these numbers mean? Join us on a mountain skills day) This will take you safely past Gardyloo Gully and Five Finger Gully. You will then start to descend the zig zags which seems to be never ending. You will then keep on the path until there is a turning to your left, which is the main tourist path. Don't turn, keep going straight on as if heading for the lake Lochan Meall. You will pass a large standing stone on the left hand side of the path which has become quite famous for all the wrong reasons. (you can do your own investigation in to this :( )

Keep following the path which can now start to turn boggy again till you reach and old fence line. Turn left and follow the old fence all the way down until you reach the style you first climbed. Then just retrace your steps back to the car.


We will be running a guided walk on this route on 11th August. Please contact us if interested. (link to be added soon). Otherwise please go and enjoy one of the iconic routes up to the highest point of Britain. If you have any questions then please get in touch, we are always happy to help.