Whether you are climbing Ben Nevis itself, hiking one of its magnificent neighbours or just visiting for the beauty, there’s no better way to experience nature than by camping near Ben Nevis. There are excellent campsites near Ben Nevis in both Fort William and Glencoe for you to make your base camp – be it for tent, campervan or touring caravan.
If you are here to climb Ben Nevis then we’ve got a guide at the bottom of this page – click here to go straight there.
Read More Camping Guides:
- 1 Fort William Camping
- 2 Glencoe Camping
- 3 Wild Camping on Ben Nevis
- 4 Climbing Ben Nevis
Fort William Camping
Fort William has the well-earned reputation as the outdoor capital of the UK so get ready for a camping holiday adventure. Overlooking Loch Linnhe, the area around Fort William is the most convenient place to stay if you plan to climb the Ben. There is lots to do here besides bagging Ben Nevis though and it’s well worth staying around for a few recovery days after the climb.
There’s a good array of shops including Morrisons and a SPAR for provisions as well as outdoor stores such as Mountain Warehouse and Nevisport should you have forgotten your waterproofs!
Tourist guides bemoan the A82 bypass that follows the Lochside however that, together with the central train station, makes Fort William easy to get to. You’re unlikely to be coming here to hang around the town, you’ll be eager to lace up your hiking boots and get out and enjoy all the Highlands have to offer.
Things to do in Fort William:
If you don’t fancy the hike up the Ben then Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge makes for a more leisurely walk. Pretend you’re Indiana Jones by crossing the wire bridge when you get there. As well as walking, there are many excelling cycle routes providing you have the legs for it, and white water rafting too.
The cheat’s method for getting up high is the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola which will take you half way up Aonach Mor, just north of Ben Nevis. The Café at the top serves hot drinks and snacks set against panoramic views of Great Glen, Ben Nevis and the Scottish Highlands.
Love Whisky? Take the tour round the Ben Nevis distillery where whisky has been made for almost 200 years. Knowledgeable staff will guide you through the distillery process before inviting you to taste a wee dram. Slàinte!
To eat and drink:
There are lots of options to eat and drink from cafes to high-end restaurants. The cosy Garrison serves up the usual pub grub and local whisky whilst the Crannog Seafood Restaurant with its fantastic loch views is seafood heaven. If you are an ale drinker, then the Grog and Gruel on the high street has beers from the best local and regional breweries on tap.
Glen Nevis Caravan and Camping Park
Across the road from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, the Glen Nevis Caravan and Camping Park is ideally located if you are taking the popular Mountain Track (formerly known as the tourist path). With stunning views up of the Ben and surrounding mountains, the large site has excellent facilities, including WiFi across all four caravan and tourer fields and the five tent fields.
There’s a well-stocked shop on site together with a restaurant/bar and burger van for refuelling – breakfasts are available at both. The Ben Nevis Inn is in close walking distance for your well-deserved post-walk pint.
As the site is so close to the start of the Mountain Track it does have lots of people coming and going, however the night time no-noise policy does keep it quiet at night. You’ll get a good night sleep before your early start – ideal for walkers.
On the other side of the river from the centre of Fort William, Lochy Holiday Park is the closest campsite to the North Face Car Park start of the lesser travelled but tougher CMD Arete route up Ben Nevis.
Static caravans and chalets for hire; hard standing pitches with electric hook-ups for tourers and a grass tent field – all with fantastic views of Ben Nevis and the surrounding mountains. The facilities are clean and modern but can get a little busy at peak times.
Stroll down the River Lochy round to Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian canal. Have a drink outside the Moorings hotel and watch the boats navigate the 8 locks.
Linnhe Lochside Holidays
Just 5 miles outside Fort William, the peaceful and secluded Linnhe Lochside is perfect for family camping holidays. With two play areas and Loch Eli on your doorstep; there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained. Kayak on the loch; light a campfire on the beach or simply sit back and enjoy the glorious views from the terraced garden pitches – caravans, campervans and tents are all welcome.
The amenities are excellent with well-maintained toilets and showers, and drying room. The small shop selling ice cream and is licenced; which is great if you forget to bring a bottle of red.
Cycle down the lochside cycle path to Fort William or take the bus which stops outside the site entrance every half hour. Close by is the Tradewinds pub, an old-fashioned boozer with a pool table.
Dogs are welcome – there’s an exercise area and they’re sure to love a run on the shingle beach.
Faichemard Farm Touring, Caravan and Camping Site
If you really want to get away from it all then Colin and Lauren’s Faichemard Farm campsite is the place to go. 25 miles north of Fort William, near Invergarry, this adult only site is perfect for peace and relaxation. No overcrowding even in high season, with 35 spacious pitches spread across 10 acres, each with its own picnic table.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for finches, butterflies, lizards, otters and mountain hare – the site even has a resident buzzard and a patrolling cat called Blake. You’re 7 miles from Less Ness so cook an extra sausage just in case Nessy pops down for a snack.
There are many wonderful walks in the area; from woodland forest trails to lochside rambles. Invergarry village is a 30-minute walk whilst the village of Fort Augustus is a 15-minute drive with bars, restaurants and unmissable views over Loch Ness.
The only thing we would say is to make sure you pack that midge spray – they’re hungry around here.
Breathtaking scenery, rich wildlife and a violent history make the area around Glencoe one of the finest camping spots in Scotland. Walkers, climbers and nature lovers will fall in love immediately and never want to leave.
The stunning landscape, featured in James Bond’s Skyfall and Harry Potter, is not to be missed and you can lose yourself for days exploring glens, waterfalls and forests.
If you are camping in Glencoe are planning on climbing Ben Nevis as part of your trip then it’s a half hour, 18-mile drive to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre from the centre of Glencoe.
Things to do in Glencoe:
Walkers are spoilt for choice – from leisurely walks such as the Glencoe Lochan Trail to more challenging yet spectacular routes through Glen Coe, Glen Etive and the Lost Valley. For the experienced hiker, the Aonach Eagach is arguably the UK’s toughest ridge walk – a grade two scramble with sheer drops – it’s recommended to rope up for some sections.
Visit the Glencoe Massacre Monument – the site of the 1692 massacre of 38 men, women and children of the MacDonald clan by government forces. Read ahead (Link) to truly appreciate the significance of this stunning location’s shocking part in Scottish history.
If that’s not enough then a walk through the Ballachulish Slate Quarry is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Should it rain, the Glencoe Folk Museum provides an insight into Highland life.
To eat and drink:
Pack sandwiches and head to the picnic spot by the shores of Loch Leven and be treated to views all the way down the loch. There’s a Nisa and a couple of Cafés and pubs in Glencoe and more shops and places to eat nearby Ballachulish. The Glencoe Inn in the centre of the village has a log burner and a cosy feel.
No trip to Glencoe is complete without a pint or a dram of Whisky in the Clachaig Inn. This mountain pub with wonderful views and a rich mountain heritage serves real ale and tasty food. Friday and Saturdays are live music nights so pack your torch for the walk back to the campsite and enjoy local talent from vocalists to Ceilidh bands.
Red Squirrel Campsite
Camping at Red Squirrel, 2 miles from Glencoe, is as back to nature as you can get. Nestled in woodland on the backs of the River Coe, this no-frills but friendly site is the kind we love. Pitch your tent or campervan amongst the trees (no caravans) – quiet spots are by the stream. Better still, camp next to one of the firepits and gather round to chat with your neighbours. The midges are ferocious, but the campfire has the added bonus of helping keep them at bay!
The facilities are basic – a toilet and some showers – there’s no electric hook-ups or WiFi but you can charge your phone at the office for a fee. You’re here to switch off.
The Clachaig Inn is a 15-minute walk up the track. On the way there, Harry Potter fans will want to stop by the spot where Hagrid’s Hut was set – it’s on the left, but you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. The nearest shop is two miles away back in Glencoe.
Back at the campsite, swim in the stream; catch some fish (permits are £10) or sit back and keep your eye out for one of the many wild visitors. Foxes, woodpeckers and red squirrels are own known to stop by and if you listen closely you’ll hear deer rutting on the hillside.
Invercoe Caravan & Camping Park
The nearest campsite to Glencoe is Invercoe Caravan and Camping Park, right on the banks of Loch Leven. Geared towards motorhomes and touring caravans the site only accepts tents up to 4 birth. The 60 level pitches, a mix of hardstanding and grass all have enviable views out across the loch and towards the surrounding mountains. Ask for a shoreline pitch, they cost a little more, but your view will be uninterrupted.
The onsite shop stocks the essentials, including gas, and its a short walk into Glencoe. The toilet block is kept clean and there’s a coin-operated laundrette.
We think this site is a great choice to base yourself if you want to explore the surrounding area as there’s easy road access. It could also be the perfect night stop off point if you are on route further afield.
Caolasnacon Caravan & Camping Park
Drive 3 miles up the shores of Loch Leven from Glencoe and you reach Caolasnacon Caravan & Camping Park. A no-fuss site in an idyllic setting on the banks of the loch, with 360-degree jaw-dropping mountain views and a stream flowing through the centre of the site.
Launch your kayak from the shingle beach, collect mussels brought to shore by the tide then light a campfire for the evening to hold off those mosquitoes.
There’s no shop so stock up before you arrive – Kinlochleven, with a co-op and a pub, is 3 miles at the easternmost end of the loch. The Ice Factor National Climbing Centre is based there. Conquer the world’s biggest indoor ice climbing wall, boulder on the rock-climbing walls or have a drink and a bite to eat.
All grass and pitch where you fancy. Electric hook-ups dotted about for no extra charge. You’ll struggle to find a more relaxed site in a better setting than this.
Wild Camping on Ben Nevis
As with the rest of Scotland, and thanks to the Land Reform Act of 2003 you’re free to wild camp under the stars on and around Ben Nevis. There’s no purer form of camping than finding a spot with your tent on your back and pitching up for a night of tranquillity.
For Ben Nevis, Steall Meadows near the waterfall and wire bridge crossing is known wild camping spot. Otherwise, follow the usual wild camping rules: pick a secluded spot away from roads and houses; keep noise to a minimum and leave your camp as you found it – taking away all your litter.
The Lost Valley and Glen Etive to the south of Glencoe have many wonderful wild camping spots and excellent walking – just make sure you do your research; pick your spot well and clean up after yourself.
Climbing Ben Nevis
If you’re camping near Ben Nevis then you may be here to bag the Ben. Whether it be as part of the three peaks challenge or just to tick off another Munroe, you ‘ll be joining thousands of others who make the ascent every year. Being the tallest peak in the UK, it does get busy up there, especially on summer weekends. If you want to avoid most of the hoards, plan to climb during the week and take a route other than the Mountain Track.
How long does it take to climb Ben Nevis?
How long it takes to climb Ben Nevis will depend on your fitness and your route. Plan for 6 to 8 hours for the round trip. The walk up can take between 3 and 5 hours whilst the route down should be quicker, around 2 to 3 hours. It’s advisable to set off as early as you can so you can take your time, soak in the breathtaking scenery, and get back to your campsite well before dark.
Ben Nevis routes
By far the most popular route up Ben Nevis is the Mountain Track. Don’t let its former name of the Tourist Path fool you, this route is still a slog with steep zig-zaging climbs on rough terrain. Starting off at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, this is the route preferred by most Three Peak Challengers – that does make it busy!
Experienced hikers preferring a quieter ascent should consider the CMD (Cair Mor Daerg) route that begins at the North Face (Mhulinn) car park or a scramble up the Ledge Route.
All these routes are accessed from Fort William, so if you choose to stay at one of the Fort William campsites you’ll have the shortest trip back to your tent. If you are staying in Glencoe or the Faichemard Farm site, then you’ll have a short drive back afterwards.
Ben Nevis Walking Tips
The hike up Ben Nevis should not be taken lightly. This is the tallest mountain in the UK and should be treated with respect. The weather can turn, and Scottish clouds and rain can roll in on even the calmest June day so plan ahead to make sure you get up and down and back to your campsite safely:
- Check your fitness – although the Mountain Track is well paved this is still a tough walk and you do need a certain level of fitness. A few practice walks will stand you in good stead and teach you your limits.
- Wear your boots in – those brand-new walking boots might look good but they may become blister central. Make sure you bed them in a bit, wear two pairs of socks and pack some plasters to keep blisters at bay.
- Pack properly – pack plenty of high energy food and water (at least 2 litres each), particularly on a hot day. It will be much colder on the top so extra wind and waterproof clothing is a must. Emergency gear such as a torch, whistle and first aid kit should also be taken. Don’t forget your map and compass.
- Check the forecast – novice walkers should only attempt the climb in good weather. If the forecast is bad or changeable then rethink your plans – keep checking for any changes throughout the day. Stick to the summer months for the best chance of a good day.
- Set off early – the earlier you set off the better. It’s a long day’s walk so make sure you leave plenty of time. The last thing you want is for it to go dark.
- Keep to the trail – the trail is there for a reason so make sure you follow it, and your map. Come down the same way you went up.
- Leave no trace – the Scottish Highlands are magnificent and there are hundreds of people each day hiking up Ben Nevis. Take all your rubbish with you to make sure the mountain stays today.
- Have fun – and enjoy the views!
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