Proof that size doesn't matter + a short walk

Route: The Spar Cave, near Elgol

Date walked: 14/02/2012

Time taken: 1.5 hours

Distance: 1km

Ok so this is my first report and what do i choose....possibly the shortest greatest walk in the UK, other than a walk to my local.

I thought i'd write about the experience of visiting the Spar Cave near Elgol on Skye, as much as an update for all would be adventurers from the age of 2 upwards and of course their suffering parents. As a family adventure it beats pretty much anything hands down.

As we left Broadford and took the road to Elgol it was under a dreich grey sky. I had mistakenly thought that a morning romp up to the Old Man of Storr would have knackered the wee yins and after lunch in Portree, surely they'd be asleep. But no! So it was to the tunes of 'Barbie, a Mermaids Tale' that we hurtled along the switchback road to Elgol....(Mental note to self, must actually watch these films one day instead of listening to them repeatedly for mile after mile :eh: ). With so many wee humps to 'jump' over, the kids squeeling with delight in the back and the cracking scenery, it was an epic little drive.

Finally we make it to Glasnakille, it's damp and cold...perfect for a bit of caving. So i don my boots and go scope out the route. All the reviews i've seen on other sites make it sound truly terrifying, especially for wee yins, i want to make sure that it's safe enough. Five minutes from the car and i'm practically at the cave, told you it was a short walk. The tides on it's way out and the path, although pretty muddy is good enough, with a bit of care no problem. Huff and puff back up to the car and give them the thumbs up...we are good to go! The kids let up a big cheer, they're off on an adventure, they've heard the stories of clan chiefs daughters hiding their bairns in the cave, mermaids, gun boats and maybe even the odd pirate tale thrown in for good measure. The kids are 11, 4 & 2, so I sling the 2yr old in the back carrier and we're off.

It's a muddy and slippy little walk down to the cliffs at the shore, the path then descends in a series of small zig zags to the bottom of a sea inlet. So far the only problem encountered were the low hanging branches criss crossing the pathway, which is narrow. This resulted in me having to practically commando crawl under some with the bairn on my back. At the bottom of the inlet there are some pretty sizeable boulders runnning down to the shore, but even here the 4 yr old takes these in her stride with a lot of hand holding. But a very short scrabble along the shore brings you to the inlet at the back of which sits the Spar Cave.

The inlet itself is pretty impressive, with shear walls rising either side and even a little sandy beach. I guess we may have been lucky though, as the seaweed wasn't too bad, so picking our way to the back of the inlet was easy enough. After donning head torches at the entrance and then avoiding the worst of the mud in the entrance passage we entered the cave proper. As the cave turned to the right the level floor gave way to the base of a massive flowstone ramp. Even having read other accounts the sight of it rising a good 80ft above us and disappearing into the darkness meant more a than a few gasps were released into the cold air. A sign of good things to come indeed, already it was living up to it's reputation.

Despite the slippery look, the flowstone was remarkably grippy and the top of the ramp was easily gained. The foreboding nature of the cave meant that we didn't take the wee yins up the ramp, but rather took them back to the sand to play on whilst we took it in turns to explore the cave.

At the top of the ramp, the spectacular nature of the cave really starts to show itself, with column like formations of flowstone making it feel like a cathedral rather than a cave. Some small pools at the top seem to show the beginnings of stalagmites, but the view down the slope to the back of the cave is what draws the eye. Another flowstone ramp runs down for 20 to 30ft, a bit steeper this time but even grippier, down to a crystal clear pool. The colour of the water is a bright blue made more intense by the ripple effects from the dripping water onto the stillness of the pool. The photos don't do it justice, the patterns on the water and the sight of the stone almost flowing down the walls into the pool is nothing but spectacular.

A deeper pool or sump lies through the narrows at the back of the cave just out of visibility in the gloom, nope don't fancy getting wet so will leave that for another time. Plus there's always the nagging worry of the tide approaching, so reluctantly we decide to depart, pick our way over the boulders and up the muddy slopes back to the car.

Everyone was blown away by the cave, so i could then breathe a sigh of relief that i didn't drag everyone all that way just to see a dank damp hole. The wee yins loved it and despite being such a short walk it still had an air of adventure. But as the last light fades we set off for the bridge and the route back to Fort William after an epic day....now just 2 hours of Barbie to endure :D

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Comments: 11


Activity: Mountaineer
Pub: The Old Forge, Knoydart
Mountain: Suilven
Place: Lochinver
Gear: Scarpa SL Boots
Member: BMC
Ideal day out: Ideally it's a big ridge walk in the remote corners, but these days a walk with the kids along sections of the devon coastline are pretty fantastic.

Munros: 4
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 1
Wainwrights: 6
Hewitts: 23

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Trips: 1
Distance: 1 km

Joined: Jan 24, 2012
Last visited: Jan 28, 2021
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