Ben Nevis and the Lochaber 4000s from Loch Eil

Lochaber 4000s

Hillwalking route up Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg and the 'Aonachs'

Together Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg, Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag are referred to as the Lochaber 4000s and bagging them in one day makes for a long and varied route hiking on vast plateaux and scrambling along narrow ridges while taking in vast views.

Route outline


Aonach Mor, 

Aonach Beag, 

Carn Mor Dearg, 

Ben Nevis

Ascent 2220m (7280ft)
Distance 20km (12m)
Time 8:45hr
Start Nevis Range
Grid Ref : NN172774
Finish North Face car-park
Grid Ref : NN145764
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Combining Ben Nevis and the Carn Mor Dearg arete route with the 'Aonachs' traverse into one varied hillwalking day bags all the Munro summits of the Lochaber 4000s into one outing.

Navigation can be challenging in mist, fun can be had rock-scrambling on Carn Mor Dearg's east ridge and arete and the views are outstanding and over vast distances.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Nevis Range

The gondola up Aonach Mor

The gondola up Aonach Mor

A few of miles north of Fort William on the A82, there is a junction with a road heading south and a sign pointing the way to the Nevis Range Centre. Around a mile up this, the road comes to an end where there is a large car-park by the Nevis Range centre with its gondola and café.

2. Aonach Mor

On Aonach Mor's summit, looking out over the Grey Corries

On Aonach Mor's summit, looking out over the Grey Corries

Start from the Nevis Range car-park in front of the Pine Martin cafe. Looking to the right to the top corner of the car-park, begin walking on a track into forestry. The track turns south and begins to climb. Keeping as much as possible away from mountain-biking trails, keep aiming uphill until you reach another track travelling off left at a gentler gradient (remains of the old tramway). Follow this track until under the line of the gondola is reached, then keeping more-or-less under the gondola aim uphill, trying as much as possible to avoid the mountain-biking trails (there are traces of path close to the trails).

Reach the top of the gondola and Snowgoose Restaurant . Head around the Snowgoose, then strike south uphill on a very faint trod to the bottom of the Goose T-Bar. Follow the line of the Goose T-Bar, which reaches the bottom of the Summit Button tow, then follow this until you can see the mast of the top station.

Leave the ski-runs and aim south-east onto Aonach Mor's summit plateau, the summit is around 1km further. In mist careful navigation will be needed, being careful to avoid cornices built up above Aonach Mor's cliffs on its east faces. A large untidy pile of stones make up the cairn on Aonach Mor's summit.

3. Aonach Beag

Aonach Beag from Aonach Mor

Aonach Beag from Aonach Mor

Leave Aonach Mor's cairn and aim south on a wide grass covered expanse. An erroded path can be traced making a route down to the bealach between Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag.

From the bealach, the path winds around some rocks and up loose gravel then makes for a direct line to Aonach Mor's summit with its small cairn. In winter conditions it is worth noting that a large cornice builds up above the cliffs on the eastern side of this mountain, which the cairn sits rather close to !

4. Carn Mor Dearg

On Carn Mor Dearg looking north

On Carn Mor Dearg looking north

Return to the bealach , then you should be able to see a faint trod contouring north-west. This aims for a cairn at NN191722 which marks the start of a very rough, loose and steep path that descends down to the bealach between Aonach Mor and Carn Mor Dearg.

The grassy bealach is crossed and you should be able to see to the left of an old dyke, a path heading uphill eastwards. Follow this and climb up the east ridge of Carn Mor Dearg, the red rock giving some easy scrambling on the way. The ridge narrows higher up and Carn Mor Dearg's summit is reached. A small cairn sits on this excellent vantage point from where Ben Nevis which looks massive.

5. Ben Nevis

On the Carn Mor Dearg arete, Ben Nevis behind

On the Carn Mor Dearg arete, Ben Nevis behind

Leaving Carn Mor Dearg's cairn behind, aim southwards on rocky ground following the narrow crest. A path meanders a route, sometimes keeping to the west side of the crest to avoid any difficulties. As ground levels out, the route continues to stick to the crest, occasionally keeping to the east side to avoid exposure.

The lowest point on the ridge is reached and the route ahead looks a bit tougher as the red granite of Carn Mor Dearg is left. Uphill, the rock-scrambling is pretty easy keeping to the crest, but if windy, there are opt-out options on the south-east of the crest.

The ground begins to level and become easier. A large cairn is reached - this is where the top of the 'abseil posts' used to mark a route into Coire Leis. Ahead lies 1,000ft of ascent up fairly steep bouldery ground, through which a worn path can be traced most of the way. Higher up, the ground begins to level and some aluminium frames are seen - aim for these and the summit of Ben Nevis . Comes into view. Ben Nevis's summit is a spectacular place to take in views - beware of edges above vast drops.

6. North Face car-park and return to Nevis Range

Descending Ben Nevis's Mountain Track

Descending Ben Nevis's Mountain Track

The next part of the route follows the Mountain Track and after the quiet routes on The Aonachs and Carn Mor Dearg, the likely crowds and bussle will come as a bit of a shock !

In mist, careful compass work is needed to avoid Gardyloo Gully - from the summit trig point walk on a bearing of for 231o for 150m, then aim 282o.

Follow the Mountain Track to the junction in the track above Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, the 'Halfway Lochan', then follow the northern-aiming branch. This comes to an abrupt end at the northern end of Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe .

Follow the burn coming out of Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe northwards downhill. The ground is fairly wet, though faint traces of paths and ATV tracks can be picked up.

The River Nevis will be met most likely by a fence that crosses it, just above which is a car-park for the emergency services and other essential users . If not in spate, the river should be easily crossed, but if in spate, you can walk a bit downstream to meet up with a bridge. After getting onto the other side of the River Nevis, a well constructed path twists and turns a route through foresty (with occasional clearings and viewpoints) down towards the North Face car-park. Just before reaching the car-park, the path joins up with a track, turn right and follow this track back to the Nevis Range car-park.

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Alternative and nearby routes »

Ben Nevis via the Mountain Track

The Mountain Track is the most popular hillwalking route up Ben Nevis. Although it's a gentle climb up a wide zig-zagging path to the summit, never underestimate weather conditions !

Peaks : 1 Munro

Ascent : 1340m (4400ft)
Distance : 16km (10m)
Time : 6:15hr

Ben Nevis, Lochaber 4000s and Grey Corries hiking route

Combining Ben Nevis, the Lochaber 4000s and the Grey Corries into one route makes for a long fairly challenging route hiking on vast plateaux and narrow ridges while taking in vast views. Ideal preparation (and recci) for a Tranter Round or longer Ramsay Round !

Peaks : 8 Munros

Ascent : 3200m (10500ft)
Distance : 32km (20m)
Time : 13:30hr

Ring of Steall, hiking route

The middle section of the Mamores mountain range is often referred to as 'The Ring o' Steall'. Some easy rock-scrambling is enjoyed while bagging 4 Munros including Sgurr a' Mhaim and An Gearanach.

Peaks : 4 Munros

Ascent : 1750m (5740ft)
Distance : 15km (9m)
Time : 6:45hr

The 'Aonachs' from Nevis Range hiking route

Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag are affectionately known as the 'Aonachs' and a straightforward and direct route these high Munro peaks is from the Nevis Range below Aonach Mor's northern grassy flank.

Peaks : 2 Munros

Ascent : 1450m (4760ft)
Distance : 15km (9m)
Time : 6hr


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