Inchnadamph The Bone Caves

Inchnadamph Bone Caves

This is a fairly easy low level walk up the beautiful Allt nan Uamh glen to the fascinating Bone Caves near Inchnadamph. Bones from over a hundred different species of animals dating back over forty seven thousand years, including Polar Bear, Northern Lynx, Arctic Fox, Arctic Lemming, Brown Bear and many more have been excavated from the Bone Caves. The fairly short walk to the limestone caves in the cliffs of Creag nan Uamh is a great walk with stunning views and the mind blowing Fuaran Allt nan Uamh spring where a full flowing river suddenly appears out of the ground from a large shallow puddle. The start of the walk is not from the main car park at Inchnadamph but instead a few miles south of Inchnadamph. If you have a few hours spare then this is a must. Read the free leaflets at the start of the walk to help your imagination wonder off to the world that left us these clues. A head torch is a must have gear item on this walk for exploring inside the caves.

Route Directions

  1. As said above the start of the walk is not from the main busy car park at Inchnadamph. The Bone Caves car park can be found just a few miles south of Inchnadamph. The car park is at grid reference NC 253 179.
  2. Last time I was at the car park there was a tiny wooden sign saying Bone Caves. However this isn't by the road and is about the same size of those used to sign footpaths, so not easily seen from a passing car. Hopefully a clearer sign will be erected in the near future.
  3. There is a box containing free leaflets that give you all the information you need on the history of the caves including a useful map of this route and a diagram explaining which cave is which. The information boards at the car park were in a bad state the last time I was there but a sign informed of a much needed replacement coming in the near future.
  4. From the car park head east through a gate and along a track. The track turns in to a path and starts to rise slightly as it passes a lovely waterfall on the Allt nan Uamh to the right.
  5. The path bends right behind the waterfall and enters the glen. The path snakes along the glen through heather and ferns. Looking back down the glen in the direction of the car park you will start to see the huge mountain slope of Canisp.
  6. The path eventually bends back to the left and reaches the Fuaran Allt nan Uamh spring. The path rounds the shallow puddle from where the full flowing Allt nan Uamh magically appears. Look closely in to the bottom of the shallow puddle and you will see bubbles where the water is pushing its way up.
  7. After marvelling at the natural wonder of the Fuaran Allt nan Uamh spring continue along the path still keeping the other main course of the river on the right hand side. After a few hundred metres the river will dry up completely at certain times of the year.
  8. Several hundred metres on from the spring the path reaches a crossing of the Allt nan Uamh. You will spot a clear path ascending the other side heading directly to Creag nan Uamh. Here cross the Allt nan Uamh which will probably be dried up, to reach that path on the south side of the river.
  9. Follow the well laid path now on a straight forward ascent in a south easterly direction towards the cliffs of Creag nan Uamh. The gets is loose the higher it gets and at one point just before the caves there is a sign warning to beware of falling rocks.
  10. After the path rounds a rocky outcrop it reaches the Bone Caves. The first cave on the right is the Badger Cave which has a handy ledge on the right to sit and admire the views and shelter in bad weather. The Badger Cave goes back at its left side but has a very low roof so be careful not to knock your head.
  11. The second cave from the right is the Reindeer Cave. If you have small children do not allow them to roam freely in this cave as there is a dangerous drop at the back left of this cave.
  12. I really do think this drop should have some kind of bar across it. I know everyone wants the caves to stay as natural as possible but I really don't think a bar would ruin the cave. If the local councils and authorities want to advertise the family friendly walk to the Bone Caves then they do need to make sure it is safe as it can be within reason.
  13. The Reindeer Cave has an opening to a narrow passage just a few metres along the bottom of its left hand wall. This narrow passage leads to the next cave along, the Bone Cave. The passage is very narrow and is only supposed to be accessible to small children though as I can verify myself slimmer adults may also be able to slide through.
  14. The next cave along is the Bone Cave. At the back right of the Bone Cave you will see the wide then narrowing passage leading to the neighbouring Reindeer Cave. The final cave of the four is the Fox's Den which doesn't go quite as far in to the hill as the others.
  15. Looking out from the caves you get a fantastic view across the glen to the southern side of Beinn nan Cnaimhseag with a multi colour of scree, heather, grass and limestone. To the right up the top of the glen are the pale quartzite flanks of Conival.
  16. The return route from the Bone Caves back to the car park is just a case of retracing your steps. Descend the path back to the Allt nan Uamh, enjoying views down the glen you had your back to earlier.
  17. Cross the Allt nan Uamh again to regain the main path on the northern side of the river. Or if the river is dried up why not try walking along its river bed instead and check out the various fascinating rocks in the rivers bed.
  18. Eventually you will round the shallow puddle at the Fuaran Allt nan Uamh spring again. From there follow the path west again and a short easy walk will get you back at the car park starting point.
  19. If heading north you could finish your day by heading to Lochinver to check out the Lochinver Pie Shop or for a full meal and local ales check out the fabulous Caberfeidh seafood restaurant for local fresh caught seafood. If heading south you cannot beat the Seaforth Seafood Bar and Bistro by Ullapool harbour, for fresh tasty seafood, real ales and an excellent atmosphere.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer 442 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 15 Map Click to buy OS Travel Map Scotland Click to buy Lonely Planet's Scotlands Highlands & Islands

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.