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Waterslide (The)

Traligill, Sutherland.

NGR:NC 27580 20596
WGS84:58.14055, -4.93062
Length:Not recorded
Vert. Range:Not recorded
Altitude:Not recorded

The downstream section of the Cnoc nan Uamh system (see also Cnoc nan Uamh, Uamh an Uisge and the Pothole Entrance). Located along well worn path past Glenbain Cottage to prominent knoll, Cnoc nan Uamh (Hill of Caves).

A remarkable feature, open to surface, it consists of a wide river passage cut through rock inclined downwards along a thrust plane receding into darkness and taking full flow of river. At the top is a wide oval entrance with a awkward scramble down a steep and slippery bank to the stream. At stream level to the left is a passage upstream into the lower part of the Pothole Entrance. In extreme low water or if you do not mind getting wet it is possible to traverse round the edge of the stream almost into daylight at the foot of the pot.

The Waterslide may be descended by various routes but in high water top section extremely dangerous and great care should be exercised if a descent is contemplated under these conditions. For experienced cavers, a hand-line or lifeline is desirable in anything but extreme low water. Even in normal conditions care should be taken descending to the water as loose gravel and slime make it slippery.

The most popular route down right hand side to point where roof low enough to provide support then across stream to wide dry area on left essentially large oxbow. In normal conditions, the direct route following the water can be taken. The ramp narrows gradually and the water becomes deeper and faster.

Care should be taken as just beyond the passage open out but gradient almost vertical with water tumbling down large cascade. Best option to keep left avoiding main flow. If the dry oxbow route is followed, descend to where main passage peeters out and the way on is through obvious holes to the right. Further descent leads back to the stream at the bottom of a large cascade. Downstream, a series of scrambles down boulders and small cascades ends in a sloping rift down to a sump pool. This sump can be bypassed further back. It can also be dived but is of little consequence.

To reach the main downstream sump, cross the stream right below the large cascade. The continuation of the rift is obvious and can be followed down to slightly awkward crawl, over boulders and a jammed log, veering to right to re-join stream and dropping gently to long sump pool (the way on for divers).

The two downstream sumps are normally lined but due to abrasion by high flow of water, they may have broken and need re-lined. At the top of the sump pool there is plenty of room to kit up. The normal route is along the bottom of the rift and after 30 m a slight constriction is reached at large boulder. Beyond, the passage is larger and the end of the sump is reached after 5 m. A dry passage, 'Straight Flush', runs 25 m to the second sump pool. Sump 2 is about 40 m long with an air bell in middle and fairly straight forward. Beyond, 100 mm of passage leads to another sump. Just before this sump a high level phreatic bedding passage can be entered.

'Northern Lights is amongst the most decorated passages in Scotland and great care is required not to damage the many fine formations.

Eventually the passage drops to stream level and becomes too awkward to follow but a high level bypass through an area of breakdown regains the stream at 'Royal Flush Chamber', an impressive ramp where water rushes down to terminate in small hole. A few metres above and to side, a bedding plane has been followed a few metres and may be passable for very thin cavers. Likely this acts as overflow in high water and must lie close to upstream end of Lower Traligil Cave.

Above 'Royal Flush Chamber', a crawl can be pursued to upward squeeze into 'Pillars of the Establishment', superbly decorated chamber with possible continuation towards Lower Traligill Cave blocked with straws.

Alternate Names: Uisge (Uamh an), Uamh an Uisge, Whisky Cave, Water Cave, Cave of the Water

Notes: Sutherland, Inchnadamff, Cave of Roaring.-1939. Mr. W. Fairbank in the second chamber broke a way through into a considerable cavern with a burn which must be above the Cave of Water. Rigg had previously been down the great slab in the latter.

The Gaelic word 'uiige' from which the English word 'whiskey' is derived translates literally as water but is also a contraction for uisge beatha (water of life aka whisky). In most cases when dealling with caves 'water' is the more likely translation (except where there is clear evidence of distilling).

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This entry was last updated: 2021-12-19 16:27:29

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