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Walking in Assynt Mountains Low Level Coastal Guided Walking Heritage Trails
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Inchnadamph Bone Caves

This walk visits the famous limestone caves that lie under the northern crags of Beinn an Fhuarain. They are named after the remains of a bewildering amount and variety of animal bones that were discovered here over a hundred years ago. There are three main cave entrances, named badger, reindeer and bone cave as you travel from west to east. Although they do not go in very far it is worth taking a torch with you to get maximum value from your visit.

The walk starts at the car park 4km south of Inchnadamph. Go through the gate and follow the path that passes a lovely waterfall and then winds slowly along the river course. Look out for various springs along the way. One minute the river is flowing fully and the next the river bed is dry. After about 1.5km the path forks. You will be coming back along the left hand path. However just now take the right hand path across the dry river bed and up the steep slope to Creag nan Uamh (crag of the caves). Take care exploring the caves as the ground around the entrance slopes steeply. To return carry on eastward beyond the caves and the path will curve round and take you gradually back to the original fork. The bones of bear, reindeer, lynx, arctic fox and wolves that once roamed this part of the country have all been discovered. More recently the skull of a polar bear has been identified. These are important discoveries because they allow us to glimpse back in time to see what animals live here during the past 45,000 years. For example over 1000 fragments of reindeer bones have been dated as 47,000, 25,000 and 8,300 year old. That means that reindeer lived here after the last ice age and in the preceding two interglacial periods. It is the most complete record anywhere in Scotland of animals who lived in the last glacial period (middle and late Devensian). Bones of four humans have also been discovered. Radio-carbon dating puts them at around 4,500 years old.

However there are still lots of mysteries surrounding the bones in the caves, which will only be answered by extensive survey work. In the meantime the lynx and polar skulls are now on permanent display at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Note the site is a special site of scientific interest so please do not dig into the floor. The Bones caves were created thousands of years before the last ice age, as water gradually dissolved the limestone along cracks and fissures. They are only part of a larger cave system that includes Uamh an Claonaite, the longest cave system in Scotland. There are thirteen known caves in this valley. Over the thousands of years the valley has been deepened, cutting away part of the cave system and leaving the bone caves high and dry on the side of the valley.

Visit: www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/bonecaves.shtml
Inchnadamph Bone Caves
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