The Bone Caves of Assynt
20 minutes or so drive from our pods in Achmelvich, are the ancient and intriguing bone caves. For thousands of years they have been used by various pre-historic Assynt residents. Today they make a great day out that will not only provide some great exercise in the Assynt wilderness, but also spark the imagination for how life has evolved over the millennia.
What are the Bone Caves?
The name bone caves is apt for these naturally occurring openings in the cliff face. Over various periods of the Earth’s history many animals have used these caves for shelter. Several archaeological excavations in the last 200 years have discovered bones from many creatures, now long gone from this part of the world. Some of them may surprise you!
Since the invention of the NC500, Jaguars and the odd prancing horse are common in this part of the world. They are in good company as it turns out that exotic animals used to call this region home!
Remains of such sub-arctic species as arctic lemming, reindeer, Eurasian lynx, arctic Fox and Polar bear have all been found in the Bone Caves. It’s hard today to imagine such a variety of predator and prey in this part of Scotland today. When you visit the caves it’s not uncommon to imagine if one or two of these beasties might still be wandering around the heather.
Remains of other creatures that are recognisable today were also discovered. Fragile birds bones were found and also some human remains. Could people have used these caves to live in too, or were they supper for one of the caves more fearsome residents?
How to get to the Bones Caves
From NC500Pods or if you are circulating the NC500 in an anti-clockwise loop, drive towards Ullapool. Once on the A837, the car park for the bones caves can be found on the left shortly after passing Inchnadamph.
From the car park there is a good path that leads past Allt Na Uamh waterfall. The path leads to a fairly steep-sided limestone glen (or valley). The Bones Caves are on the right side of this glen. Cross the stream and follow the path that rises above the stream to the bones caves, which should be visible. The path becomes fairly steep so take care as you go.
For those feeling particularly energetic the main path continues towards a Corbet (mountain between 2500 & 300 feet) called Breabag. This offers great views of the Assynt landscape but will significantly add to the journey time. If you are not familiar with hill walking this one probably isn’t for you.
The return walk to/from the bones caves normally takes an hour or two. Allow at least 8 hours for Braebag.
If the Bone Caves is something you plan to see when touring the NC500, we’d recommend some sturdy footwear and waterproofs.
If you’ve already visited the bone caves, let us know what you thought of them or post your photos on our social media.
To find out more about things to do near our pods and on the NC500 click here.