When you walk up a mountain like Ben Nevis, have you ever thought about who maintains the path that you walk on? In fact, who built it in the first place? How much does it cost and where does the money come from?
Ben Nevis receives around 150,000 ascents every year so a very big and well built path is essential. Nevis Landscape Partnership and John Muir Trust spent around £1million in the last few years on the mountain path and the ongoing maintenance costs run into tens of thousands of pounds every year. We can't just rely on the landowners to build and maintain trails, after all they can't earn anything back directly to cover the cost. It's not in the remit of the local authority (The Highland Council) and we can't, and don't want to, charge every walker on the path.
The burden of building and maintaining mountain trails often comes down to charities, and it's the Nevis Landscape Partnership that coordinates work to maintain the trails in the Nevis area with huge support from the landowners - Jahama Highland Estates, John Muir Trust, Glen Nevis Estate and Forest and Land Scotland.
At Abacus Mountain Guides, there's no doubt that we go up Ben Nevis a lot! Mike has been on Ben Nevis well over 1000 times and we really enjoy guiding hundreds of people up and around Ben Nevis every year. Our business is based around Ben Nevis as well as our leisure time. All of these boots on the ground and cars in the parking places have an impact on the landscape and on the people that live in the communities here.
So, we want to give something back to the area that we love and rely on so much.
We do this in several ways. Mike is a director of Nevis Landscape Partnership, feely giving his time to the running of the organisation. We are members of Nevis Landscape Partnership, Friends of Nevis and John Muir Trust, supporting these organisations that do such good work on the ground. We also pick up litter, plant trees and help on volunteer days. But what they really need is funding.
So, we run an annual event called Nevis at Night.
Nevis at Night is an experience of Glen Nevis and Ben Nevis for everyone, and a charity event like no other. Reach for the stars and immerse yourself in the multi-sensory experience during Light up Ben Nevis - our night ascent of the UK's tallest mountain. And it's all in support of The Nevis Fund to carry out essential environmental work in the Nevis area.
You can climb Ben Nevis. And you can climb it at night. But this is your opportunity to help light up the entire mountain with a team of like-minded people, while also raising money to protect the very area that we love, as well as a charity of your choice.
We head off in the late afternoon on 23rd September 2023 with the aim of reaching the summit shortly after dark. Being on the summit in full darkness is quite an experience which adds another dimension to to the challenge.
As well as professional guiding and support, complementary snacks and reflectors, all participants will be able to download a free GPS tracker app which will allow you to check in with your friends as you go. Following the event you can celebrate your achievement with your fellow walkers with a delicious midnight feast back at the event base.
Anyone who is capable of walking up Ben Nevis can take part. Individuals, families, groups of friends or colleagues at work, everyone is welcome.
For Light Up Ben Nevis you have a fundraising target of £250. The cost of participation and in the event is £50 and the other £200 will go to The Nevis Fund to help with essential maintenance and conservation work in the area. If you raise any more than £250 you can choose whether the extra goes to The Nevis Fund or to a charity of your choice.
You will have plenty of time to reach your fundraising target as we will ask you to reach certain goals throughout the year:
Register - £25
Balance of participation cost - £25 - due by 26th August 2023.
Second fundraising target on the 4th November 2023 (six weeks after the event) - £200 + any extra raised that you would like to donate to The Nevis Fund.
With so many fundraising events taking place on Ben Nevis every year it can be tough to know where your money will be put to best use. This is why we think you should choose to fund raise with Nevis at Night:
We run the event as a not-for-profit, so you know that all the money you pay to take part goes into running the event.
You can sign up now - www.nevisatnight.com/
Well that was a top weekend! The Women's Winter Festival with our fab partners Girls on Hills was a real treat. We were blessed with stunning weather on day one and more challenging weather with lots of learning potential on day two! The aims were empowering, encouraging and enthusing women to explore the mountains in winter, and we certainly achieved this!
After a winter that has been a bit more miss than hit when it comes to snow and ice cover, we were very lucky to get a return to proper wintry conditions. So much so that, unfortunately, it was a bit tricky to get to Fort William with cancelled trains and tough driving conditions. Nearly everyone made it though and we all enjoyed great days out in the mountains, superb and inspiring talks from our guests and lots of fun and laughter sharing the experience.
We kicked off with talks from Keri Wallace, trail running guide and Co-Founder of Girls on Hills, who talked about her recent record-breaking Winter Tranter's Round. And Anna Wells, climber, instructor and Founder of Rocks and Trails, who spoke about a few important lessons she's learned from years of walking, scrambling, climbing and even flying in the mountains!
It was a packed audience in The Highland Bookshop and the stories from Anna and Keri were so inspiring. There are so many women doing amazing things while also juggling family life and careers, and it was brilliant to hear from two women who have found ways to excel at what they do in so many ways.
Saturday started sunny and frosty, perfect for getting out on the hills and learning new skills. Running in the crisp, dry air was a delight, and the ground conditions were perfect for the runners to try out micro-spikes and poles during their route that took them over Meall an t-Suidhe, around to the CIC Hut under the North face of Ben Nevis. The run was concluded with some well earned cake at the Highland Soap Company!
Winter Walking Skills groups headed to Nevis Range to make use of the uplift to get to the snow more easily. There was plenty of old hard snow to get the crampons into, and to learn how to move around efficiently and securely with an ice axe. The groups learnt about different snow types, kicking steps, ice axe arrests and various ways to use crampons, by which point it was time to get up high and catch the views stretching from the Cairngorms to the Paps of Jura.
The climbing teams went to Glencoe where all sorts of snow and ice anchors were practised, along with climbing some brilliant cascade ice. After a very cold week, there was ice in many of the stream lines, some of which make excellent climbs. This low level ice was ideal for focusing on learning skills with minimal walk in required. After eight pitched of beautiful cascade ice the climbers had certainly made the most of the day!
After a long day in the hills, the Ben Nevis Inn served us up a wonderful and very well earned meal. We had lots of people staying at the inn in their new bunk room accommodation which worked out very well. It's a great base for adventures being just outside of Fort William at the foot of Glen Nevis, and right at the start of the path going up Ben Nevis.
After dinner talks were from Mountaineering Scotland Safety Advisor Kirsty Pallas and Lou Beetlestone, one of our instructor team for the weekend. Lou stepped up at the very last minute when Marianne Heading, winner of the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, found herself snowed in and unable to travel to Fort William! Lou is a full-time outdoor instructor, with a passion for mountain running, climbing and alpine mountaineering. In 2019, Lou was part of the first all-female team planning to climb all the Alpine 4000m peaks, in one summer season and she told us all about her experiences on this project.
Where day one was crisp and dry, day two was soggy and slushy! We had two very contrasting days, emphasising the changeable conditions we have to deal with in Scotland in winter. It's always useful to learn how to stay warm and dry, even in the wet weather. The poor visibility was ideal for practicing some navigation skills, the climbers found some good snow to learn how secure their snow-anchors are and the climbing on Dorsal Arete was fun even in the rain!
Smiles and good company keep you warm even when the weather is wet. The Scottish Highlands in winter can be wild and intimidating, but they can also be awe-inspiring and beautiful. With the right skills and knowledge, you can make these mountains your playground throughout the winter months. This was certainly a weekend of building confidence and having fun, and we will be back next year for more!
Huge thanks to Hannah Shaw www.Hannah-Shaw.com for taking brilliant images of the weekend and to the Ben Nevis Inn and Highland Bookshop for looking after us all.
While we have been enjoying great ice climbing in Norway and high on Ben Nevis, the sunny, spring-like weather this week has got us thinking about plans for the summer. We are super excited to be able to announce our collaboration with Morag and Steve who run Provident Sailing. Their boat is a 1924 Brixham Trawler, part of the national historic fleet and one of the most treasured vessels operating in UK waters today.
Our aim is to share the experience of being on this amazing boat and enjoy some wild, remote hillwalking. To infuse our guests with our love of sailing and to show you some amazing and beautiful places.
At 70 ft on deck, 90 ft overall and weighing in at nearly 90 tons Provident provides a tremendously safe and stable platform. These boats were developed and sailed before the advent of paper charts. Today we have the latest electronic navigation on board but the gaff rig would be completely familiar to a 19th century sailor.
On the 3rd July 2023, Provident will be sailing from Mallaig on a hillwalking adventure amongst the remote peninsulas and islands of the west coast of Scotland. We will guide the team of up to eight people up the hills by day and sail into the evening making sure we get the most out of the land and the sea.
Whatever the weather we can promise you a great adventure!
We know there is enjoyment in walking for a day with a sleeping bag and food on your back, to spend the night cramped in a flapping tent, always in a rush to beat the midges, before you even start to climb your hill.
But on this trip you can sail into remote west coast lochs through magnificent mountains and wild landscape, sleep in luxury cabins with central heating and enjoy the superb cooking of Morag on board Provident, anchored a safe distance away from the shore and the midges! The tender will deliver us to the shore at the foot of the climb up to some of our remotest and most rugged Munros and hills.
Heading north and west of Fort William, the tiny roads at last run out; beyond is the famously rugged wilderness region of Knoydart. Even further away and across the sea are the wonderful islands of Rum and Skye with some of the most spectacular lochs and mountains in the UK.
This is an ideal trip if you..
The weather, winds and tides will dictate exactly what we do and where we go, as well as where you would like to go. But possible mountains include..
Meall Buidhe is an incredibly rough and rocky mountain, one of the three magnificent Munros on the Knoydart peninsula. Whichever route is chosen, the ascent requires considerable effort.
Regarded by many hillwalkers as amongst the finest mountains in Scotland, Ladhar Bheinn enjoys a superb position surrounded by the sea on three sides. It has dramatic ridges, huge crags falling into Coire Dhorrcail and amazing sea and mountain views from the summit.
Beinn Sgritheall gives a steep and punishing ascent; the effort is well worthwhile however as this is one of the finest viewpoints in the Highlands, with a fantastic outlook over dramatic Loch Hourn to Knoydart and the Cuillin of Skye.
Rum is magnificently wild and rugged, dominated by the towering mountains of the Rum Cuillin - a miniature version of the Cuillin of Skye. The ridge traverse of the Rum Cuillin is one of the classic Scottish hill days, with plenty of scrambling though the peaks are less technical than the Cuillin of Skye.
Diminutive Sgùrr Na Strì on Skye may only reach 494 metres in height, but it's proof that - when it comes to mountains - size doesn't matter. Many walkers reckon that the view from the summit - over Loch Coruisk, the Cuillin and the sea - is the finest in all Britain.
Approach the mountains from the sea, return to the comfort of Provident. We’d love to have you aboard!
Price £1310 (sharing a twin cabin) includes six nights on board full board plus guiding on the mountains with Sally, our chief mountain leader, highly experienced and qualified International Mountain Leader.
Please get in touch with Provident Sailing and book directly through them. They will take care of the booking process and make sure you are ready for your trip, and we will see you on board!
3rd to 9th July 2023
6 nights, Mallaig to Mallaig
£1,310 per person (based on two people sharing)
Confirm your place with a £327.50 deposit
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.