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The Descent 3 - Potholing with a hot Pole ;)

The Descent 3 - Potholing with a hot Pole ;)


Postby BlackPanther » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:25 pm

Route description: Traligill Caves, Inchnadamph

Date walked: 01/11/2012

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 12.2 km

Ascent: 441m

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I might have suffered from vertigo when I started serious climbing, but never had an issue with claustrophobia, small spaces never scared me. During my student years I used to live in a tower block, on the last floor, the elevator was small and it made screechy noises, but I didn't have the slightest problem using it. I guess if I could go potholing somewhere, my answer would be yes, why not? :lol: :lol:
Of course we're not talking about anything near the serous stuff from "The Descent" (I enjoyed both parts of this movie), but about having a peek into easy walk-in caves. Assynt caves are the best place for the beginners :lol: but even here one has to be careful...

BONE CAVES

These are well known caves, easily accessible and famous for the archaeological research - human and bear bones were found inside. I always wondered who fed on whom? Did the cavemen eat the bear, or did the bear consume a few juicy cavemen??? :lol: :lol: :lol: The question that will probably never be answered.

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OK, back to serious business. The walk starts at the car park on the A837 just before Inchnadamph, with some nice views towards Canisp across the road (if you're lucky and the cloud doesn't spoil it). The day we did this walk was grey and pretty miserable, with frequent showers and low, patchy cloud. it brightened up a bit later in the afternoon, but the beginning of the walk wasn't inspiring. Definitely not a day for climbing the hills.
It was our third visit to Bone Caves, we lurked here twice before, once after climbing Stac Pollaidh, another time on the way to Braebag (the caves can be included into the most obvious route to this Corbett). Both times it was pretty dry time and the little stream running down the glen didn't hold much water. This time it was different:
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This first waterfall can be seen from the car park and a good path leads along the stream all the way up into the glen and to the cliffs with the caves:
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The stream (Allt nan Uamh) was bursting with water! Here looking back, with Canisp in the background:
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In spate conditions certainly add an interesting twist to the landscape...
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...but they may also obscure the passage :lol: : The spring was full to bursting - when looking into the water I could clearly see the water flow moving little stones on the bottom - it looked like some ghosts trapped underground were trying to escape from prison!
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I remembered from my previous visits, that the river bed past the spring is usually completely dry, but not this time...
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It might have been a grey day but I still enjoyed the walk...
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We passed a few more springs - some of them definitely recent ones, water running on top of fresh, green grass. A new river was born :lol: :lol:
As we approached the caves, all water suddenly vanished and the glen was easy to cross:
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We noticed someone watching us...
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The river bed - bone dry... (well, it's Bone Caves so the name is appropriate):
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We crossed the dry river and followed the path, climbing the cliffs up to the caves.
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Looking back into the glen:
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There are three caves with big, easy entrances. The inside is wet and a bit boggy, but there is nothing to be afraid of...
Inside cave no. 1.:
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My camcorder has a little torch but I struggled to find the switch in the darkness :lol:
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I wonder if this passage leads anywhere to another cave... No light inside the tunnel and it was too small to squeeze in:
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Inside cave no. 2.:
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A narrow passage at the opposite end of the cave seems to be leading to another chamber and the entrance looks "used" :lol: :lol: I guess some professional potholers squeezed through to the next cave, shuffling their bums on the rock:
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Another passage in cave no. 2, a big hole under our feet - this one could be dangerous if one fell into it, looks at least a couple of metres deep:
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The main entrance from inside:
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A light in the tunnel!!! Hello, who is it???? The underground ghoul?
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Well, actually it was just me, potholing :lol: :lol: Kevin was still taking pictures in the second cave and I quietly walked outside and found the entrance to the third one. I dived into the darkness with the little camcorder-torch switched on - it turned out that caves 2 and 3 are actually connected by a very narrow passage.
Kevin got spooked initially before he realised it was just his wife playing The Descent :lol: :lol: Ha ha I was in my element, couldn't stop laughing!
Soon he joined me in the last cave:
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Another niche, filled with dripping water:
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I returned to the middle cave and examined the connecting tunnel from the other end. It's narrow but a slim person could easily slip through. I gave up mainly because the bottom of the cave was wet and yucky - plus I had my new goretex jacket on, didn't want to tear it.
I waved to Kevin through the hole...
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...and walked outside again!
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The caves from below:
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Even on a sad, grey day, the views from here are still fantastic:
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The glen:
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The dry riverbed must have once been filled with fast flowing water:
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We left the caves and finished the circuit by continuing along the path and down to the bottom of the glen:
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Just before we returned to the car, the weather improved:
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We had a quick cuppa and cookie in the car and with 2 hours of daylight still left, we decided to visit a second set of caves nearby...

TRAILGILL CAVES
These can easily be combined with Bone Caves, with a 5 min drive between them.

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The route is well known for those who have climbed Conival & Ben More Assynt via the traditional route. From the car park near Inchdamph Hotel we followed the track east.
It was nice and sunny now on the western side, Quinag presented its bumpy ridge with pride:
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Conival still in grey cloud, but what a spell of afternoon sunshine!
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Plenty of deer about, stags chewing dinner just a few metres away from us:
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A new house is currently under construction - it looks like a little castle:
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We left the Con-BMA route as we came across a wooden footbridge:
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The first cave can be seen just to the right:
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River Trallgill with plenty of water in it:
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The cave is not big and it's filled with water (later we understood why), but it's situated at the entrance to an interesting, narrow gorge, so it's well worth the detour:
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The gorge:
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We explored the gorge, though the ground here was quite soggy:
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Across the stream, I noticed another candidate for a cave - it turned out to be very shallow:
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Of course, Kevin didn't stop there and somehow he scrambled up the rocky side of the gorge, leaving me below...
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I quickly followed him (the scramble is very easy) and we returned across the grassy ground to the path. Minutes later we were standing at the very edge of the main Trallgill Cave, looking into the abyss below us... :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Holy sh***** I thought, if I slipped and fell into this hole, I would be dead and drowned!
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So this is the underwater river which surfaces further along, out of the previous cave!
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:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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We climbed above the first hole and found a second one, just as big and with the river visible down inside:
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Not a good place to practice potholing:
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We discovered a third cave as well, small and narrow and this one you can walk into. Not much to see but we could hear the river rushing down its underground bed. Spooky :shock:
We continued along the path further into the glen, hoping for maybe more caves, but there's nothing more to pothole in here :lol: :lol:
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...just a few locals to watch!
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On the way back, we witnessed a weird spectacle when all the world turned pink:
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The sun was setting and the moon-like world of Assynt looked even more alien than usually...
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We returned home with big smiles on our faces :D No mountains climbed but the potholing (or hot-poling as Kevin calls it :lol: :lol: ) was an adventure in itself, interesting enough to describe in a separate TR. Another highly recommended couple of walks, just a little warning - make sure you don't get too close to the edge by the second set of caves - I wouldn't want to be morally responsible for anybody slipping and falling into the underground river!

As I'm still behind with my TR's, I have two more to write from previous weekend - two Corbetts, both in snowy conditions. I was desperate to get out on the hills to climb my birthday mountain - and I got two instead of one! :lol: :lol:
Actually my b'day is today but obviously I wanted my gifts BEFORE the big day, I'm such a spoiled cat! And if the coming weekend is just as good, I may get a double treat :lol: :lol:
Plus I nagged Kevin to order the new WH Munro book - all right, I know it will not arrive until December, but I can wait a few weeks :lol:
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BlackPanther
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Re: The Descent 3 - Potholing with a hot Pole ;)

Postby ChrisW » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:06 pm

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Beeee Peeeee
Happy birthday to you :clap:

Lovely report of a little something different BP, I have seen both of those descent movies....I thought of them when I did the local ice cave earlier this year :shock: That second cave in yours looks like it must have claimed a few lives in its time :shock:
All in all a great piece of down instead of up :clap:
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Re: The Descent 3 - Potholing with a hot Pole ;)

Postby Lenore » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:48 pm

Happy birthday!! Cool caves, and love those deer pictures. Have they calmed down then? No more rut?

And Chris: ice cave? Trip report?
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Re: The Descent 3 - Potholing with a hot Pole ;)

Postby McLEOD » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:54 pm

Interesting stuff,
Happy Birthday :thumbup:
McLEOD
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Re: The Descent 3 - Potholing with a hot Pole ;)

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:02 pm

Many thanks for the wishes :D I'll be celebrating the whole weekend, hopefully on the hills though the forecast is very windy (gusts 60mph)...Maybe a seaside walk then, we'll see what we can arrange.

I remember your ice cave report, Chris, and if you don't mind here is the link to it - fantastic stuff:
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=19574

I have recently posted TR's about a few "different" things like castle ruins or jogging routes, just showing that Scotland is not only about mountains. These caves are easily accessible and quite popular (especially the Bone ones). I haven't heard about anybody falling into the gap of Traligill but they are not secured or fenced off in any way so who knows :shock:
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BlackPanther
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Posts: 3542
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Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

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