Smoo Cave in Durness, Scotland

Smoo Cave is on the edge of Durness on the north coast of Scotland. The cave is 200 feet x 150 feet x 50 feet high at the entrance and contains 3 sections. Inside the second section is a very dramatic and noisy waterfall, the Allt Smoo River, pouring through the cave. Standing inside this smaller part of the cave right next to the waterfall, you have to shout to be heard when talking. Sometimes boat trips are available that go back through the cave to the third section but when we were there, the river was flowing too much for a full tour of the cave. The waterfall is 80 feet high.

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View of the cave from outside.
 The cave is said to have served as a smugglers hideaway hundreds of years ago and also that illegal whisky was distilled in the deepest part of the cave. One story says after 1745 government revenuers were sent in to stop the illegal distilling of whisky and arrest those responsible. They hired Donald MacKay who lived nearby to take them into the deepest part of the cave so they might find the stills. The river happened to be in high flood at the time and MacKay is said to have steered the boat into the waterfall so it would capsize. He was a strong swimmer and swam to safety. The revenuers were not so lucky and one of their bodies was never found. It is said he still haunts this part of the cave.
View of the inlet or Geodha from the front of Smoo Cave. It appears this was at low tide.
The Caves were also used often during the Norse Era and the name Smoo is probably of Norse origin, from the word Smugh which means rift, cleft or cave. Boats were repaired here throughout history. The Geodha provided a natural protected harbor.
In 1992, a midden--a domestic prehistoric refuse heap--was discovered and excavated at the entrance to the cave (above). It contained many discarded shells. Early inhabitants of the cave had eaten a lot of shellfish. The top of the midden was dated to the Iron Age and the deeper layers were much older, dating back to the Mesolithic Era. They believe these people were the earliest human inhabitants of the Highlands.
View from above the cave, looking down the Geodha. It is believed that more of the gorge was covered over long ago and was part of the cave, but it gradually collapsed over time.
A long set of steps leads down to the cave.

Wildlife is abundant here, especially birds.
Ruins of a block hut built by an 18th century Orkney merchant. He used the cave as a store and built Smoo Lodge.

Wildflowers at the base of the ruin.

Another view looking down over the inlet and entrance to the cave. You must cross this small footbidge to access the entrance.
Thank you for visiting Smoo Cave with me!!

In writing news, My Notorious Highlander won an award! It's the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. Here is my trophy! I love it!!

My Notorious Highlander: Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie's home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is?

The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie's conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother's absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him.  



Tamara Hunter said...

Beautiful photos as always, Vonda! Interesting caves and I can see how they'd be of service. Distillery indeed! LOL.

Mary D. said...

Love all the great photos!

Gerri Bowen said...

So very interesting, Vonda. Your photos are wonderful for getting a good feeling of the area and history. Thank you!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you, Tamara, Mary, and Gerri!! So glad you enjoyed it!