A visit to Smoo Cave in Sutherland
Smoo Cave Scottish Highlands
The largest of its kind in Britain, Smoo Cave is one of Sutherland’s most impressive natural head scratchers. Dating potentially as far back as the Mesolithic period legends include that it was used by the devil for his mischief making, utilised as a death trap by highwayman Donald McMurdo and, naturally, a base for smuggling operations. Today, it’s an amazing insight into Scotland’s geological history.
Smoo Cave is remarkably accessible. No need for dramatic dangling entrances attached to lifelines or crawling into dingy and claustrophobic passages. Stroll on in like you would to any old park. The entrance to the first chamber is gigantic and awesome in its vastness. Measuring over 15 metres high this part of the cave then extends 60 metres into the land.
From the outside the gaping intrusion into the limestone shown above is the first of the three chambers of Smoo Cave. Within that a footbridge takes you into the eerie second chamber where water from the Smoo burn above falls 20 metres into the cave. For the really keen, there is the option to explore further still with a short boat trip deeper into the blackness. This takes you to the third chamber within the cave and brings back those cannot-be-erased memories of high school geography.
Local residents include a range of birdlife, any and all of whom will relish your presence as a challenge for their aim. Around 40, 000 visitors per year visit the cave. Access is free apart from the optional boat trip which costs £4 for adults and £2 for children and which can be weather dependent.
Durness would be a tough place to get lost in and the cave is very easy to find, to the east of the village centre. Alongside the superb beaches in this part of Scotland and of course the powerful and dread-inducing Cape Wrath, Smoo Cave is a must for those that have made the effort to reach the far north of the British mainland.
If caves are your thing, another one of Scotland’s most fascinating are the Culzean Castle caves in Ayrshire. Spooky and shrouded in an uncertain history, it may be a very different kind of cave to Smoo but is no less fascinating.
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