The standard path up Ben Nevis from Glen Nevis, the so-called Tourist Track or Mountain Path, is undergoing a major upgrade, starting this week. Resurfacing on a 3km section above Achintee is planned to take three years, with work concentrated in the less busy winter season. Walkers have been asked to take care and expect detours to be in place.
It has even been suggested they consider alternative routes. Other non-climbing options are very limited, and for most it will mean starting at the North Face car park and slogging up the bogs to join the standard route at the Halfway Lochan.
The £1m project, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, will 'dramatically improve this world class route' says Freja MacDougall of the Nevis Landscape Partnership, who are leading the project.
But not in the meantime, however.
'The work sites present major safety considerations' says Freja MacDougall, 'both for the contractors and the people using the path during the construction phase, due to the steep cross]slope that the path is benched into which zig-zags up the mountain.'
'Walkers may wish to consider alternative routes up the Ben during the this period such as starting at the North Face car park, however those choosing to take the Mountain Path should be aware of the works and follow the bypasses and instructions from the on-site contractors. We would also like to advise extreme caution for any night climbs or descents using the Ben Nevis Mountain Path during the construction period.'
'The Ben Nevis Mountain Path is an extremely popular and well-used route and very much in need of these works to improve long-term stability of the path and reduce erosion. Ben Nevis visitor numbers are in excess of 100,000 annually and in addition to individual walkers there is an ever-growing number of charity climbs, challenge events and Three Peak groups. The lower Ben Nevis Mountain path is currently in a very poor condition and we need to take action now in order to safeguard the mountain path for future generations to enjoy.'
The Nevis Landscape Partnership Program is a five-year 3.9m scheme, consisting of 19 projects aiming to encourage the public to engage with the natural and cultural environment of both the Ben and its Glen. Across the program there are opportunities for people get involved through volunteering, school participation, experience events and training opportunities. In addition there's a leave no trace interpretation project to promote sustainable use of the area.