The Aonachs from the west

The 'Aonachs' from Nevis Range hiking route

Hillwalking route up Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag

Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag are affectionately known as the 'Aonachs' and a straightforward and direct route these high Munro peaks is from the Nevis Range below Aonach Mor's northern grassy flank.

Route outline

  Map base ©OpenStreetMap

Aonach Beag

Aonach Mor

Ascent 1450m (4750ft)
Distance 15km (9m)
Time 6:00hr
Start/finish Nevis Range
Grid Ref : NN172774
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

Between the Snowgoose and bottom station, the Nevis Range is famed for its downhill mountain-biking. Above the Snowgoose, skiing is the main activity in winter. Provided neither of these are in full swing, the route from the Nevis Range up the 'Aonachs' is the most direct and quickest.

Aonach Mor's flat summit plateau is huge and careful navigation will be needed in mist. In winter Aonach Beag's summit cairn sits rather close to a cornice above huge cliffs on its east face.

Route map

Route description

1. Getting to the Nevis Range

Snow fence-line on the way up Aonach Mor

A few of miles north of Fort William on the A82, there is a junction with a road heading south and a sign pointing the way to the Nevis Range Centre. Around a mile up this, the road comes to an end where there is a large car-park by the Nevis Range centre with its gondola and cafe.

2. Aonach Mor

On the summit of Aonach Mor

Start from the Nevis Range car-park in front of the Pine Martin cafe. Looking to the right to the top corner of the car-park, begin walking on a track into forestry. The track turns south and begins to climb. Keeping as much as possible away from mountain-biking trails, keep aiming uphill until you reach another track travelling off left at a gentler gradient (remains of the old tramway). Follow this track until under the line of the gondola is reached, then keeping more-or-less under the gondola aim uphill, trying as much as possible to avoid the mountain-biking trails (there are traces of path close to the trails).

Reach the top of the gondola and Snowgoose Restaurant . Head around the Snowgoose, then strike south uphill on a very faint trod to the bottom of the Goose T-Bar. Follow the line of the Goose T-Bar, which reaches the bottom of the Summit Button tow, then follow this until you can see the mast of the top station.

Leave the ski-runs and aim south-east onto Aonach Mor's summit plateau, the summit is around 1km further. In mist careful navigation will be needed, being careful to avoid cornices built up above Aonach Mor's cliffs on its east faces. A large untidy pile of stones make up the cairn on Aonach Mor's summit.

3. Aonach Beag

Cornice on Aonach Beag

Leave Aonach Mor's cairn and aim south on a wide grass covered expanse. An erroded path can be traced making a route down to the bealach between Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag.

From the bealach, the path winds around some rocks and up loose gravel then makes for a direct line to Aonach Mor's summit with its small cairn. In winter conditions it is worth noting that a large cornice builds up above the cliffs on the eastern side of this mountain, which the cairn sits rather close to !

4. Return to Nevis Range

Heading back down Aonach Mor, looking back along Loch Eil

There are various choices of return.

  • It is possible to descend from the bealach westwards down a very steep and rough path to the col between Aonach Mor and Carn Mor Dearg, then follow the Allt Daim back northwards, though this is heather-clad and quite tough.
  • From Aonach Mor, more experienced hillwalkers can scramble down the loose ground east of Aonach Mor's summit and follow the circular crest over Stob an Chul-Choire to Sgurr Finniosgaig.
  • Or simply return the same way. This is the easiest route and if you prefer, it is possible to take the gondola from the Snowgoose back down to the Nevis Range centre for a donation to Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team !

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Steven Fallon
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