Our drive towards Loch Ness continued with more unplanned stops. We had no idea that we were going to drive right past Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles.
It was raining heavily, but they were still running a gondola to the top. Many cyclists were taking the gondola to mountain bike down Ben Nevis' various bike trails. We opted for a round trip ticket. This is the only mountain gondola in Britain.
Tickets in hand, we boarded our gondola. The carriage could hold six, but felt small and claustrophobic with just the two of us. I felt like I was on a carny ride at a local fair! It had a small window at the top, which had been left open and the seats were covered in rain.
It was windy and the windows were pelted with rain during the entire ride. Quite frankly, it was a little bit scary!
I sat very still, as if my lack of movement might be what saved our lives! Dan thought it was hilarious and took a video of me admitting that I might not be "always packed for adventure".
It was a long way up and a long way down. Just when we thought that the ride must be over, we came to a mini-peak and noticed that we still had a long climb. It took about fifteen minutes (felt longer with the rain) and we climbed to 2150 ft on the north face of Aonach Mor.
Finally we reached the top.
In addition to being the start of the mountain bike trails and ski slopes, the top had a cafe and the Mountain Discovery Centre.
We walked around and saw a giant snow plow. Ben Nevis is gearing up for ski season.
In the cafe we had comfort food for lunch.
On a clear day, I'm sure that the view is spectacular. Here is a picture of what we could have seen, if the cloud cover had not been so thick. All we saw was a blanket of solid grey.
As we stayed at the top a little longer, some of the clouds lifted and we were able to see the gondola.
We walked down a set of creeking metal stairs to visit the Mountain Discovery Centre, where we learned about the local wildlife and construction on the mountain.
My favorite thing at the discovery centre was this little bit of History.
We spent about two hours at Ben Nevis. I would love to return when the visibility is better and maybe try some of the ski runs.