SYHA - WILD OSSIAN TO BEN NEVIS Itinerary 2004 (grade 2)
What a contrast, this trek combines walking to and exploring the wild, remote and romantic Ossian Hostel then
through to Glen Nevis and an ascent of the "Ben" Britain's highest mountain. Our trek follows routes long used by
drovers and Highlanders of all sorts. If you’re looking for some space and simple freedom or you want to
experience the wild romance of the highlands then this is the trek for you. You don’t have to worry about camping
or having to carry tents, as we will be staying in hostels en route, including the idyllic Loch Ossian. However, you
will have to carry your own personal equipment and a share of food for some of the time – but this need not be
onerous with a little practice, and the chance of sharing the experience of this simple and care free trek makes it all
the more worthwhile.
MAPS: OS 1:50,000 Nos.42 Glen Garry and 41 Ben Nevis cover the area of our route.
The terrain covered is mainly on paths and tracks, which may be rough, rocky and wet at times. There is some
unpathed terrain at times when we will be walking over rough moorland. There are two mountains ascended during
the trek – but you don’t have to carry your full pack!
Day 1 Rendezvous in Stirling rail station 08.00. After a short kit check at base and distributing food for Loch
Ossian, we’ll head for the wilds. The walk to Loch Ossian is about 20km (12 miles) ascent 300m (1000ft), 5 - 7
hours walking. Accommodation for 2 nights at Loch Ossian hostel.
Day 2 Explore the area for example, a walk in the mountains, 14-20 km (7-12m), 500-800m (1600 - 2600 ft), 5-6
hours walking. Options - Beinn na Lap or Leum Ulleim or round the loch.
Day 3 Walk through the mountains to Glen Nevis 27km (16 m) 300m, 6-8 hours. First of two nights at Glen Nevis
hostel. If you feel this is too much for you, you could take the train to Fort William and head out to meet up with the
rest of the group at Glen Nevis hostel.
Day 4 Our big day - Ben Nevis, 20km (12m), 1450m (4500ft) ascent, 6-9 hours. With luck we’ll be able to look
back and see some of the highlights of our trek and to soak in the vast panorama of the highlands….
Day 5 Make your own way home from Glen Nevis / Fort William.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS 4 nights hostels as per the itinerary with all meals from packed lunch on day 1 to
breakfast on day 5. Food for all meals is provided by us and prepared by the group.
WEATHER Although the Highlands of Scotland have a fairly high annual rainfall, much of it falls in the winter.
However, it does rain in the summer too, and it is best to be prepared for this with good-quality waterproofs. A
jacket with an attached hood, and a pair of over-trousers are both essential. As for the temperature, the range is
usually 10-22° C in the summer months. It can be hot, dry and sunny and, for this, shorts, a short-sleeved shirt and
a sun hat are comfortable and some sort of sunscreen cream is advised. It is best always to carry some extra
clothing, a warm hat and gloves. The variability of the weather is one of the features which makes Scotland such an
interesting destination. Be prepared for anything and you may even get a pleasant surprise.
Updated: 2 December 2003
EQUIPMENT Please keep your total baggage to a minimum. The following is for your guidance and should you
require further information please contact us. If you are unable to obtain essential items let us know in advance
and we may be able to help.
Despite needing to be prepared for all weathers, remember that YOU will have to carry all your equipment so try to
avoid carrying a lot of superfluous items. (People have been known to collapse under the weight of rucksacks full
of little items "weighing hardly anything at all"). Your personal equipment should amount to NO MORE THAN
about 16lbs(7kg), allowing about 6lbs(3kg) of shared equipment to be carried on day 1, thereafter your rucksack
should become lighter!
When choosing what clothing to bring try to select items which have more than one use and which can be worn in
combination with other clothes. Try to work on the multiple layer principle. Several thin layers are better than one
thick one. For advice about your equipment please give us a ring.
For wearing when walking:
Short sleeved shirt or vest Long sleeved thin but warm sweater
Warm trousers (NOT made of denim material)
One or two pairs of comfortable socks Stop tous or gaiters can be useful
Strong, comfortable walking boots with a good grip - see below
We suggest you CARRY:
Large strong rucksack (50 litres) lined with a strong polythene bag
Complete change of clothes Additional changes of underwear and socks
Pair of shorts (optional, hopefully required) lightweight night shirt
Waterproof jacket in good condition (NO capes)
Waterproof over-trousers in good condition Warm hat and gloves
Toiletries (small towel, small amount toothpaste & soap, toothbrush.)
Water container Small personal first aid kit (at least a few elastoplasts)
Whistle and survival bag. Insect repellent, sunscreen, small torch
Camera and film (optional) Compass and maps (optional)
Plus a share of food for days 1-3 (supplied) Trekking pole(s) (optional)
All this should not come to more than about 22lbs (10kgs) for day 1, thereafter the weight greatly reduces! The
extra effort is well worth expending to allow you to savour some marvellous locations.
FOOTWEAR Strong, supportive, comfortable walking boots are essential for this holiday. These should be
weather proof, be in good condition and have a good deep tread. It is recommended that they should not have a
smooth sloping heel and should be at least moderately stiff (i.e. it should not be too easy to bend the toe of the
boot up to the ankle).
FITNESS The terrain covered is mainly on paths and tracks, which may be rough, rocky and wet at times.
There is some unpathed terrain at times when we will be walking over rough moorland. There are two mountains
ascended during the trek – but you don’t have to carry your full pack! The routes we follow are very scenic, so time
will be available to soak in the atmosphere. Some previous walking/hiking experience would be helpful. However
a reasonable level of stamina and fitness is more important. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle it is particularly
recommended that you indulge in a programme of regular moderate aerobic exercise over a period of several
weeks prior to your holiday. Walking, cycling, jogging, striding out, etc are all good preparation for this grade of
holiday. The better prepared you are for your holiday the more you are likely to enjoy it.
COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE: In the unlikely event of having a complaint about your activity please make your
views known to the C~N~Do staff in charge so that it can be resolved immediately. Failure to do so may lead to
your claim being reduced or rejected. Should it not be possible to resolve your problem immediately, you should
write, giving full details, to the Activities Manager, SYHA as soon as possible after the activity. Delay in so doing
may lead to an inability to substantiate your claim. All complaints and claims will be dealt with under Scottish Law
Updated: 2 December 2003