The Nevis Range Mountain Gondola runs for 650 metres up Aonach Mor – the 8th highest mountain in the UK – and it offers stunning views across the Highlands. The gondola was purpose-built to transport skiers to the mountain summit but it is equally used by hillwalkers that want to explore the Nevis range.
Review of the Nevis Range mountain gondola
The Nevis Range Mountain Experience Centre located at the foot of Aonach Mor is widely regarded as Scotland’s premier adventure destination – a claim you’ll likely find yourself agreeing with once you visit the centre.
While many people associate Ben Nevis with winter skiing and snowboarding there are lots of other activities to get involved with throughout the year and you’ll have no trouble finding something to do if whether you’re a seasoned skier or a novice rambler.
The centre offers a starting point for some of the best downhill mountain bike trails in the country for beginners and advanced riders and there are enough graded routes down Aonach Mor that you’ll find a challenge whatever your skill level.
In fact, the mountain biking is so good at the Nevis Range that the UCI MTB World Cup has been held there since 2002, an event that draws in the top riders from all over the world.
In addition to the first-rate biking trails the Nevis Range Experience Centre runs a very good aerial adventure obstacle course at the edge of the nearby Leanachan forest where kids and adults can brave tree swings, balance ropes, and zip wires from heights of just 1.5 metres above the ground all the way up to a dizzying 10 metres.
The centre is also home to the only mountain gondola ride in the UK, a ride that sees visitors whisked up the side of Britain’s 8th highest mountain towards incredible views at the top station, 650 metres above the departure point.
The gondola ride was originally installed as a way to transport winter skiers up the mountainside but it’s now used equally as much by keen hikers as a way to get to the top of Aonach Mor as part of a hike into this truly breathtaking mountain range.
Things to do at the Nevis Range
Your use of the gondola will obviously depend on the season in which you visit the centre, with snow sports enthusiasts using it as a means to get back to the top of the mountain for a new downhill run and summer visitors using it as an effortless way to get to the top station to enjoy the views and walks on the summit.
But whatever your reason, the journey up the mountain in the gondola is an enjoyable experience and you’ll be able to take in panoramic views of the Nevis range during the 15 minutes that it takes to make the ascent.
While you’re whisked along the 2.3 km of cables that run between the bottom and top stations you’ll be presented with a completely different angle of the Great Glen and Ben Nevis, and because you’re so elevated you can even see all the way across to the Inner Hebrides. It really is an amazing sight so don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars.
If you’re not visiting Ben Nevis for snow sports, Once you’re at the summit there are a few activity options available.
You can either take a look around the top station and enjoy a bite in the restaurant before taking a return ride back down to the base, you can take the two easy walks to the mountain viewpoints on the north and south side of the mountain, or you can head back down the mountainside on foot and enjoy the scenery of the rugged landscape up close.
The Snowgoose restaurant is worth visiting purely because it’s one of the highest in Britain at an ear-popping 2,150 feet but to be honest (in my opinion) it has a bit of a motorway service station feel about it.
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That being said, the fact they managed to construct a restaurant that high up the mountainside in the first place is pretty incredible, and a hot coffee after a cold jaunt on the mountain is always welcome.
My personal recommendation is to take either of the two easy walks to Sgurr Finnisg-aig (45 minutes return) or Meall Beag (1 hour return) from the top station before grabbing a drink on the restaurant veranda and sitting back to enjoy the views across what many regard as the most scenic landscape in Scotland.
Both walks are clearly signposted and follow well-maintained trails and both are relatively level so they’re easy enough for most people to complete.
One point I’d suggest you bear in mind is that you really should wear sturdy boots no matter the weather as conditions on the mountain can change at the drop of a hat and you don’t want to be caught out on a wet mountain-top with a pair of flip-flops.
That being said the walks from the top station shouldn’t pose any problems if you’re moderately fit and able and there’s no better way to experience the wildlife of the area than heading to these panoramic viewpoints.
Heading north to Sgurr Finnisg-aig will lead you to a site that looks out across the Great Glen and the Hills of Knoydart, while the trail in the opposite direction will take you in the direction of Meall Beag and its lovely views of Loch Linne and the hills of Ardgour and Moidart.
If you’ve got the energy after you’ve visited the viewpoints you can head back down under your own power instead of the cable car but whatever activity you choose to do on Aonach Mor I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.
If you’d like to explore more of the Highlands read my Guide to the Best Places to Visit in the Scottish Highlands.
- The views from the top of the gondola station and Victoria Viewpoint are stunning.
- The walking routes towards Sgurr Finnisg-aig and Meall Beag are lovely, though admittedly short. They’re perfect for tourists who want a quick jaunt in the Nevis range though.
- The gondola ride is good fun and gives you a new angle to view the mountain, plus it makes life easy if you only want a one-way walk (you’ll still have to pay the full-price return ticket though).
- The restaurant is expensive but I still recommend getting food if you can find space on the outside veranda.
- The walk back down the mountain can be tricky – avoid the trek if you’re an inexperienced hiker.
- Two other attractions within ten miles of Ben Nevis are the Jacobite steam train which runs from Fort William to Mallaig and Glencoe which is one of the most scenic regions of Scotland.
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Things to do near the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre
- Neptune’s Staircase. Banavie, Fort William PH33 7NG. 8-minute drive. An impressive series of canal locks that were built in the early 19th-century to connect the waterway between Loch Lochy and Loch Eil. Frequently used by walkers as a starting point for the Great Glen Way.
- Old Inverlochy Castle. Fort William PH33 6TF. 6-minute drive. A ruined castle located a mile from the centre of Fort William. The castle dates from the 13th-century and was originally surrounded by a moat. Today, only the outer walls and corner towers survive.
- West Highland Museum. Cameron Square, Fort William PH33 6AJ. 5-minute drive. A converted bank that houses a collection of exhibits and artefacts that depict regional life in the West Highlands. There are also displays from Jacobite and Victorian times as well as military memorabilia.
- Ben Nevis Distillery. Lochy Bridge, Fort William PH33 6TJ. 6-minute drive. A 19th-century distillery that continues to produce single malt Scotch whisky. There is a visitor centre that offers tasting experiences and guided tours of the warehouses.
- West Highland Way End. Fort William PH33 6DZ. 5-minute drive. The start and end point for The West Highland Way – one of the most popular long-distance walks in Scotland. The route is 154 km long with the two end points located at Milngavie near Glasgow and Fort William.
More places to visit in The Highlands
- The Highland Wildlife Park – Highland: Complete Visitor GuideSitting in around 260 acres of beautifully managed parkland in the Cairngorms, the Highland Wildlife Park showcases some of the wildlife that can be found in the mountains and wilderness areas of Scotland, as well as several species that are currently endangered in mountainous regions all over the world.
- The Cairngorm Mountain Funicular – Highland: Complete Visitor GuideThe Cairngorm mountain is the UK’s sixth-highest and is well-known for being Scotland’s premier snowsports destination.
- The Glenfinnan Monument – Inverness-shire: Complete Visitor GuideThe Glenfinnan Monument sits at the north-east head of Loch Shiel where it has commanded spectacular views of the Highland landscape since its construction in 1815.
- The Complete Guide to Free Attractions in The HighlandsDiscover the best free attractions in Scotland with my list of free attractions in The Highlands