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The tallest mountain in the UK

The top of Ben Nevis, 1344 metres above the ground, is the highest point in Britain. It's part of the Grampians, a range on the western side of the Scottish Highlands.
The first recorded ascent was in 1771. The mountain's conqueror was James Robertson, a botanist from Edinburgh. In the following century many more people made the climb, including the famous poet, John Keats. He described it as like "mounting ten St. Pauls without the convenience of a staircase". Unfortunately, none of these people knew what they'd achieved. Until 1847, no-one was actually sure that Ben Nevis was Britain's highest peak. They thought it might be Ben Macdui, on the other side of the Highlands. Ordnance Survey finally settled the issue by confirming the heights of both mountains. It was a photo finish - Ben Macdui is 1309 metres tall, putting it in second-place by a mere whisker.
Here in the 21st century, Ben Nevis is climbed a lot more often. Around 100,000 people attempt the trip every year. The vast majority of these use a path called the "Pony Track". This relatively easy route heads directly upwards for the first half kilometre, then begins to zig-zag its way to the summit. There are other ways to the top, but these usually require experience in scrambling or climbing.
Regardless of the route you take, it's a long and arduous journey. Naturally, some people are quicker than others. Even so, it's almost impossible to believe just how fast it can be done. At the annual Ben Nevis Race, competitors from all over the country come here to pit their skill and stamina against the mountain. The record of 1 hour and 25 minutes has stood unbroken since 1984. Incredibly, this time includes the descent! For us mere humans, it's more likely to take all day.
If you decide to put on your hiking boots and set off for Britain's highest point, remember to take a bin bag! It's a shame how much rubbish can accumulate on the Pony Track. When a man called Robin Kevan heard about it, he drove all the way to Ben Nevis and cleaned it himself. He's now affectionately known as "Rob the Rubbish".
Prospective conquerors of Ben Nevis should also make sure they're prepared with food, waterproofs and warm clothes. Thanks to the loose stones and chilly conditions, there are several dozens of rescues and a handful of fatalities every year.
Seeing as it's so dangerous, it's somewhat surprising to find a number of buildings and structures on Ben Nevis' summit. These include an emergency shelter, a war memorial and an Ordnance Survey marker. The most bizarre man-made object to be found up here is a grand piano. It was discovered in 2006, buried underneath a pile of stones. The instrument was apparently carried up by a team of removal men from Dundee, who were raising money for charity.
The most significant structure at the top of Ben Nevis is the old observatory. After opening in 1883, this fully staffed outpost recorded vital data on Scottish mountain weather. It was only in use for 21 years, but you can still see its ruin. The crumbling walls make for a popular picnic spot.
At the very foot of the mountain is a factory making Ben Nevis malt whisky. It was set up nearly 2 centuries ago, putting it among the oldest distilleries in Scotland. The whisky is made using local mineral water, taken from a stream on the mountain's northern side. If you manage to conquer Ben Nevis and reach the top of Britain, then it's safe to say you deserve a drink.

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