Bone Caves of Inchnadamph

I did this short walk to the Bone Caves during my long walk of Great Britain in 2011. On the short detour from my route I discovered the first blooming flowers of my long walk from the north coast as well as being made aware of some unlikely and remarkable inhabitants of the caves in days long past.

Google Maps Open Source Maps

Statistics and Files
Start: Car park by A837 Distance: 2.9 miles (4.6 km) Climbing: 236 metres
Grid Ref: NC253179 Time: 1-2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Inchnadamph
Start: Car park by A837 Distance: 2.9 miles (4.6 km)
Grid Ref: NC253179 Time: 1-2 hours
Climbing: 236 metres Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk:

Once a grinding glacierOnce a grinding glacier
A post ice age landscapeA post ice age landscape

Near the Bone Caves car park I came across information boards about the North West Scotland rock route. I read them attentively, one reading 'Ice-sheets started it - shaping the valley and carving away much of the rock that was here before. The River Loanan in front of you is shaping the land as surely as they did. After heavy rain, streams carry small stones to the river and eventually they end up in the sea'. Another board headed Ice-sight read 'Stand in front of the timber post and line up the bottom shape (shown orange) in the metal rectangle with the top of the mountains. The top line (shown blue) indicates the height of the glacier that covered this area 11,000 years ago'. I stopped by the information boards for a good time lining up the mountain as instructed and imagining the height of the ice sheet. It was remarkable to think back of such a time. I continued on educated and to more revelations of the past at the Bone Caves.

Waterfall on Fuaran Allt nan UamhWaterfall on Fuaran Allt nan Uamh
Walking up the valley to the Bone CavesWalking up the valley to the Bone Caves

The walk from the road to the Bone Caves was just over one mile in and one mile out with the detour round the cliff which is home to the caves making the walk just short of three miles. I followed the track to the caves by tracking the Alt nan Uamb upstream into a very scenic and interesting valley. The walking was good throughout despite a few water hurdles.

Climbing the narrow path to the Bone CavesClimbing the narrow path to the Bone Caves
Reaching the Bone CavesReaching the Bone Caves

The final path to the caves was steep and exposed so care was needed to reach the mouths of them. The caves, four of them, are side by side in a high protected cliff face. They looked impressive from first sight at a distance and continued to be so drawing me in. From left to right they are named Fox's Den, Bone Cave, Reindeer Cave and Badger Cave. Finds in them included remains of Northern Lynx, Arctic Fox, Reindeer, Otter and even Polar Bear. The caves shed a fascinating insight into the history of Scotland and my education day continued for I know more about Scotland's early animal species for visiting them.

Creag nan Uamh Bone CavesCreag nan Uamh Bone Caves
Remarkable view of isolated Scotland sceneryRemarkable view of isolated Scotland scenery

While I was discovering the caves I took a break for refreshments and contemplated the incredible views of the valley head and mountains of Inchnadamph National Nature Reserve. Apart from more rooks cawing on the heights of Creag nan Uamh there was utter silence. It was remarkably still for such a wild place but I appreciated the lull. I looked into each cave in turn but decided not to venture into any thinking it would be sacrilege to do so. After the ownership of past times they will have remained silent for centuries and I let them be so.

Resilient Primroses at the Bone CavesResilient Primroses at the Bone Caves
Once home to Bears, Wolves and ReindeerOnce home to Bears, Wolves and Reindeer

Another delight of the area around the Bone Caves was when I came across a lovely white and yellow Primrose in full and glorious flower clinging to the rock edge high up on the crag and level with the entrances to the Bone Caves. They were thriving in their position and I was delighted to capture their beauty and share some time admiring the fulsome flowers. Seen in gardens en masse I might not appreciate them as I did here, stood proud and showy in their far north position. Rock route with glacial forces and ancient rocks, caves and wildness. Now flora in beautiful abound, I was truly enjoying my walk today. After my exciting cave adventure I returned to the road and continued south on my 1,000 mile walk. I hoped for more brilliant discoveries like the Bone Caves.

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