Walk the Wild with the John Muir Trust: Glen Nevis

In 2020, the John Muir Trust is celebrating 20 years of managing its property in Glen Nevis, which includes the summit of Ben Nevis and neighbouring Carn Mor Dearg and Aonach Beag, as well as the Steall Gorge.

This is a sponsored article from our friends at the John Muir Trust.

Much of the Trust’s work in this area revolves around visitor management. It is great that so many people come to enjoy the beauty of Glen Nevis (and, of course, the Ben itself), but the Trust recognises that one of the challenges in this area is its popularity. This ties in to its emerging message about ‘slow tourism’, ensuring people come to explore and appreciate the beauty of our natural spaces, not just march up for an Instagram snap and then leave. Read more about looking after Ben Nevis here.

The Trust is working to maintain and improve the path network – particularly in Steall Gorge – to relieve some of the pressure on the main path. This effort was affected by a significant rock fall in Steall Gorge in September 2016, which led to the closure of the path for over a month. The Trust was able to speedily complete the repair works to the path and surrounding area, estimated to cost in the region of £30,000, thanks to the generosity of supporters and members.

Footpath repairs in Steall Gorge
© Chris Goodman

Regeneration work
© Ali Austin

Most of the Trust’s work on Ben Nevis itself is spent in tackling litter. The team clear up to 120kg a year on the Ben, a lot of which consists of fruit peel, beer cans, wet wipes, champaign corks and wrappers. Read more about the litter problem on Ben Nevis here.

The Trust’s team in Glen Nevis includes Alison Austin and their ALA Green Charitable Trust-funded conservation officer Nathan Berrie. They monitor the natural regeneration in the area, manage path repair work and lead work parties. There is also a concentration of water vole in the area, which the team are lucky to be joined by volunteers in monitoring.

Finally, the Trust is pleased to be part of the Nevis Landscape Partnership. Alison Austin joined the NLP in a significant survey on the Ben’s North Face in 2016. Read about it here.

How you can help

Becoming a member of the John Muir Trust is a great way to help take care of the wild places you love now and in the future. TGO readers can get a 25% discount when joining online by using the promotional code: TGOWILD. Find out more and sign up to help the UK’s leading conservation charity dedicated to the experience, protection & repair of wild places at www.johnmuirtrust.org/join.


Walk here

Walk 1

© Crown copyright 2019 Ordnance Survey. Media 051/19

For those looking for an easier walk, head up to Steall Falls from the car park at the end of the Glen Nevis road. The path is rocky in places but suitable for walkers of varying levels of experience, and leads to the dramatic meadows of Steall where the falls themselves plunge 105m down the rockface.

Get the route

About the walk

  • Starting / finishing point: Steall Car Park, Glen Nevis
  • Distance: 3 miles / 4.8km (there and back)
  • Ascent: 210m / 688ft
  • Route notes: A walk on good paths, steep and rough in places but not difficult, that leads to the splendid viewpoint of Steall meadows.

Directions

  1. From the car park at Steall, head along the clear path, tackling rocky staircase sections in places, enjoying the view down to the wooded gorge on your right.
  2. Where the terrain opens up into a flat glen, continue along the path until you get a good view of Steall Falls.
  3. Optionally, cross the wire bridge to the base of the falls. Caution: this is not for the faint-hearted!
  4. When you’re ready to leave, retrace your steps to the car park.

Walk 2

© Crown copyright 2019 Ordnance Survey. Media 051/19

More adventurous walkers can trace much of the border of the John Muir Trust’s Glen Nevis property through Steall and on to Aonach Beag via the spur of Sgurr a’ Bhuic before descending Coire Guibhsachan. This route avoids ski developments on the north side of Aonach Mor, giving a long, remote and tough hike with superb views.

Get the route

About the walk

  • Starting / finishing point: Steall Car Park, Glen Nevis
  • Distance: 10.3 miles / 16.6km
  • Ascent: 1,414m / 4,640ft
  • Route notes: A tough hillwalk taking in some of the biggest mountains in the UK, including plenty of rough, scrambly ground and off-path walking. In winter and spring, your skills will be particularly tested on the exposed plateau and steep descents. Experienced hillwalkers will love it!

Directions

  1. From the car park at the end of Glen Nevis, walk along the excellent path into Glen Nevis. Cross the bridge near the Steall ruin and begin climbing the SW spur of Sgurr a’ Bhuic, soon leaving the path.
  2. Continue steeply up the ridge to the rough summit of Sgurr a’ Bhuic. Compass bearing and/or GPS may be required in poor visibility.
  3. Ascent Stob Coire Bhealaich and follow the dramatic cliff edges to Aonach Beag. In winter and spring, watch out for large cornices here.
  4. Traverse the summit of Aonach Beag and continue on to Aonach Mor before retracing your steps to find the extremely steep and loose descent west to the bealach at 830m.
  5. Descent Coire Giubhsachan, boggy in places, to Steall, and retrace your steps along the path to the car park.

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All images courtesy of the John Muir Trust; header image © Ally Macaskill