The United Kingdom may not be the first place that people think of when considering high mountain peaks. However, the Scottish Highlands have several impressive mountains. While nobody would confuse one of those mountains for Denali or Everest, the UK does have a definitive high point. Learn about the highest point in the UK and find out what peak holds the title, where it is located, and why the location may be a little more complicated than one might expect.
What Is the Highest Point in the UK?
The highest point in the UK is Ben Nevis, a mountain with a summit that reaches 4,413 feet (1,345 meters) tall. The original measure of the mountain was slightly shorter. However, scientists’ recent measurements were 1,345 meters which, when appropriately rounded up, equals 4,413 feet.
Ben Nevis is in Scotland, the northernmost part of the UK. Scientists believe it was formed by volcanic activity around 350 million years ago. The peak can be seen from the nearby Fort William where it towers over the rest of the landscape.
Although many theories exist about the mountain’s name, specifically the origin of the word Nevis, no conclusive origins have been decided. However, locals sometimes refer to the mountain as The Ben. These days, the mountain has easy and difficult paths for those that wish to summit the mountain.
Although this is certainly the highest place in Great Britain, we need to qualify that ranking in terms of the overall United Kingdom.
A Second Opinion of the Highest Point in the UK
Although Ben Nevis is most often considered the highest point in the UK, the truth is a bit murkier. After all, the UK still has many land holdings outside of its islands. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK as long as one excludes all the overseas territories.
However, if one includes the tallest peaks outside of Europe, then several other peaks are taller. In fact, by that measure, Ben Nevis is not even in the top 20 tallest peaks in the UK territories. The tallest mountain in the UK territory is Mount Hope.
This mountain is located in the UK’s claimed territory in Antarctica. This region, called British Antarctic Territory, is thousands of miles away from Europe. Mount Hope has a total height of 10,654 feet (3,239 meters) above sea level. That makes it over twice as tall as Ben Nevis.
So, in a sense, this is the highest peak in the UK. However, when most people ask about the highest point in the UK, they want to know about the European locations and not those that are half a world away.
Where Is the Highest Point in the UK on a Map?
Ben Nevis is in the western Scotland Highlands, east of Fort William in Inverness-shire. Loch Eil flows to the west of Fort William. The mountain summit has several paths to it. At least one of them is a simple desire path formed by individuals climbing the mountain.
Since the mountain looms large over many of the surrounding areas, it’s not hard to find once someone is in the region. However, several other large mountains exist in the same general area.
Who Was the First Person to Summit Ben Nevis?
Unlike some of the other mountain peaks that required a concentrated effort to summit, Ben Nevis is a rather short mountain. People do not need oxygen masks, base camps, and extensive equipment to reach this peak.
As a result, many people have climbed this mountain throughout human history. Records exist of explorers and naturalists ascending the mountains in the 18th century, but their journeys were certainly preceded by others that lived in the area for thousands of years.
That being said, the first recorded journey with surviving evidence of the trip was undertaken in August 1771. A man named James Robertson climbed the mountain in search of plant specimens. A man named John Williams climbed The Ben three years later, and he attempted the first geological exploration of the mountain structure.
Nowadays, over 100,000 people each year travel to the region to climb the mountain. Several pathways exist for people to summit this mountain. A few of them are slow, well-worn paths while others seek to conquer the sheer face of the mountain, a much more difficult task.
How High Is Ben Nevis Compared to Other Mountains in the World?
Ben Nevis may be the highest point in the UK, but that does not mean it is among the highest points in the world. Take a look at the highest points on several continents throughout the world and see how The Ben compares.
|Mount Everest||Asia||29,032 feet|
|Mount Aconcagua||South America||22,837 feet|
|Mount Denali||North America||20,310 feet|
|Mount Elbrus||Europe||18,510 feet|
|Mount Kilimanjaro||Africa||19,341 feet|
|Ben Nevis||Europe||4,413 feet|
Ben Nevis is much smaller than the tallest mountains in the world. As we’ve previously stated, it is not even the largest mountain in the UK when including other territories. Still, it’s a formidable mountain that people in the region enjoy climbing, and it supports a sizeable ecosystem.
The Wildlife That Lives Near the UK’s Highest Point
Ben Nevis has a wide assortment of wildlife that lives all over the mountain. Many birds and mammals are commonly seen as people ascend the mountain paths. A few of the creatures that you might encounter on a journey to the highest point in the UK include:
Some of these animals are more common than others. People also have to keep an eye out to see the ones that are flying at higher altitudes. Still, not many of these creatures pose a serious threat to people, but it’s still wise to be aware of one’s surroundings.
All in all, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK when only considering Europe. Outside of Europe, the UK has several territories and claimed lands with much higher mountain peaks. For the most part, though, people are more interested in The Ben rather than a mountain thousands of miles away.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/RyanDeanMorrison
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