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A Couple Of Small Caves In Scotland

Rob Harper

In May of 1992 Helen and I decided to spend 2 weeks walking in Knoydart in Northwest Scotland hoping against hope that we would be ahead of the midge season.

No such luck!  Not only midges but hordes of D of E expedition parties trampling all over the landscape.  So we retreated to Pean-Meachan, the bothy on the Ardnish peninsula just south of Mallaig for three days.

Whilst wandering around we found two small caves at an abandoned crofting village - Piort an t-Sluicht, (NGR 696813).  As wide open caves these had obviously been explored before and the larger had some old drystone walling to indicate that the original crofters had probably used it as a shelter for their animals.  However we cannot find any reference to these caves in the literature so herewith a short description.

The old crofting village is one of many on the peninsula and lies at the mouth of a small stream at the end of a long deep valley.  Apart from the ruins of the crofts there are the remains of an old jetty reaching out into the sheltered bay which opens into the Sound of Sleat a reminder of the once-thriving fishing industry hereabouts.

The first cave is situated at the head of a small gorge on the true left hand side of the valley approximately level with the inland limits of the shingle beach.  It is a single inclined rift of varying height for much of its length eventually closing down to a small tube at the furthest point, (approximately 30 to 40 m).  The floor is of rounded cobbles which taken with the marshy area outside the entrance indicates that there might have been an active stream flowing through the cave at some time.  The rock is of a dark brown to black colour and differs markedly from the igneous rocks, (granite?) which make up the rest of the peninsula.

The second cave (NGR - as above) is located about 3m higher than the first and approximately 10m down valley.  Its small entrance opens out into a short rift about 17m in length which becomes too tight at the far end.  There are no signs of an active streamway but a fairly steady seepage down the left wall.

A rough survey (not included here) was done using a handheld "Silva" hill walking compass, the inclination was guesstimated and distance assessed by body lengths.

We spent a little while ferreting around in the area but found little else apart from small sea caves.