The view from the top

Ever made it to the top of the 4,408 ft climb to Britain’s highest peak?

Here in our latest exhibition on Capital Collections is the view from a Victorian 360 degree perspective. The panorama is drawn from the Observatory at the summit. The building now lies in ruins but has a prestigious heritage. It was planned by Thomas Stevenson, lighthouse engineer (and father of Robert Louis Stevenson) and enabled the collection of 20 years’ worth of mountain weather data until its closure in 1904.
Section from 'Panorama from Ben Nevis', looking West

The drawings are delicately coloured in muted browns, purples, and blues to indicate the perspective of the distant hills, lochs and islands. Several islands to the West are visible, even Ireland itself. Although a reviewer writing in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal, cast doubt over the accuracy of such a sight:

“It also seems improbable that Ireland can be seen from Ben Nevis, for the distance of the visible horizon from a height of 4,400 feet is but eighty-one miles”.

However the journal also recommended the panorama without hesitation, to

“every one contemplating a visit to the summit to provide himself with one of these excellent panoramas, for he will certainly find it a most useful and pleasant aid to his enjoyment of the view”.

Now you can browse online and enjoy the view without the exertion or battling the elements!


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