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The Ben Nevis Challenge was organised by Action for Charity and took place on Saturday 7th June, 2014.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) above sea level. It is part of the Grampian Mountain range in the Lochaber region of the Scottish Highlands, near to the town of Fort William. The mountain is a popular destination, attracting an estimated 100,000 visitors per year. The majority of these are casual walkers using the Pony Path from Glen Nevis but more serious climbers come to scale the 700 metre (2,300 ft) cliffs of the north face. For the challenge, competitors used the main path allowing people of all abilities to take part.
These are among the highest in the UK, and are a test for climbers and mountaineers of all levels! These cliffs are also used in winter as one of the main locations in the UK for ice climbing.
The summit is the remains of a dome of an ancient volcano and is marked by the ruins of an old observatory which was used between 1883 and 1904 to gather meteorological information to gain a better understanding of Scottish mountain weather.
The challenge itself started at the Nevis Center in Fort William with a 2 mile stroll to the foot of mountain. Teams then ascended the 1,344metres to the top using the pony path and returned via the same route. The total distance covered being approximately 14 miles.
The next stage was to cycle 18 miles, out of the town of Fort William. Fort William is the second largest settlement in the Highlands with only the city of Inverness being larger. It is a major activity centre with Glen Coe to the south, Aonach Mòr to the north, Glenfinnan to the west and, of course, its proximity to Ben Nevis and many other Munro mountains (a mountain in Scotland with a height over 914m, 3,000 ft). It is also very well known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track which was staged the 2014 world cup race at the same time as this challenge!
It is also the start/end of both the West Highland Way (154Km, 96miles, from Milngavie to Fort William) and the Great Glen Way (117Km, 73 miles, walking or cycling from Fort William to Inverness).
The first cycle session navigated the main A82 out of Fort William before taking minor roads and some fearsome hills before arriving at Spean Bridge where teams rejoined the main A82. A long climb out of Spean bridge to the Commando Memorial and then a minor road down to the shores of Loch Lochy.
There the teams paddled a 2 mile course using 2 x 2 person kayaks lashed together with poles.
Loch Lochy is the third deepest loch in Scotland with an average depth of 70 m (230 ft). It is Located 16 km (10 mi) southwest of Loch Ness along the Great Glen and is over 15 km (9 mi) long with a width of 1 km (0.6 mi). The River Lochy flows from its south western end while the Caledonian Canal joins its north eastern edge to Loch Oich
The final part of the challenge saw the teams return to the saddle for a 12 mile ride back to the finish at the Nevis Center in Fort William.