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Allt nan Uamh Stream Cave

Inchnadamph, Alt Nan Uamh, Sutherland.

NGR:NC 27461 17119
WGS84:58.10931, -4.93008
Length:1500 m
Vert. Range:40 m
Altitude:320 m
Geology:Limestone, Ghrudaidh Formation - Dolostone
Tags:Cave, SAM

Probably the best known sporting (non-tourist) cave in Scotland. Extensive areas of larger passage with a network of side passages providing more strenuous caving without any real chance of getting totally lost. Relatively easy to find and without serious (or avoidable) risks for inexperienced cavers.

Located on the north bank of the Allt nan Uamh, some 2.5 km from the car park (sign-posted Bone Caves). Follow the tourist path up the valley to the junction of the Allt nan Uamh and the Claonaite Streamway (both streams are normally dry at this point, the surface streams only flow in wet weather). A further 500 m upstream, a hole in a small rock face has been dammed to prevent the stream flooding the entrance.

Scramble across the dry stream bed or if necessary wade across the stream. If the water levels are really high - approaching the top of the dam - you might want to reconsider your visit. ANUSC does not flood but some lower passages might become unpleasantly wet. Also if it is that wet, crossing the burn to get in and out of the cave becomes difficult. The water level has never yet been known to pass over the top of the dam but on occasions it has come close. If this happens while you are in the cave, you will not be trapped but the climb out will be through a stream which may be dammed by your body as it passes through the tube.

From the dam, there is climb down and slightly left into a small chamber at the mouth of the cave sit down and feed your feet into a tight hole to the right. A small puddle might form here in wet weather but never more than 50 mm (any more and it drains down into the cave).

Though the tube, you drop 1.5 m into a tight slot. The adventurous who went through head first will have to either brace themselves across the passage until they can swing their legs down under themselves (relatively easy) or lower themselves head first to the floor (also easy but probably painful).

Once on the floor, you are in a small chamber and ahead is a low stooping height arch through which is the rest of the cave. Remember where this chamber is as it is the only way out. This is not a problem if you know the cave, but on at least one occasion an unfamiliar caver has spent some time trying to locate this chamber. The low arch is not immediately obvious from the other side. To get out of the cave, it is necessary to raise your body the 1.5 m to the level of the tube (difficult as there are few footholds) and then wriggle through. For the shorter cavers an assist may be helpful, or by facing back into the cave and wedging your upper body against the sides, you can go in backwards swinging your feet up onto the ledges. This can be easier, as once in the tube the scalloping of the roof provides hand and footholds that the smooth floor of the tube (worn away by hundreds of caves) does not.

The rest of the cave is a maze of interconnecting loops which eventually drop to the level of the streamway. The streamway passage is challenging. In dry weather it is a shallow stream in a moderately sized passage in wet weather it becomes very unpleasant with a strong flow and little air space.

Fortunately even in the wettest weather there are many other loops of passage which can be explored some of which eventually arrive at the same locations.

Upstream from the streamway is Thundergast Falls, a 6 m high waterfall which in very dry weather it is possible to free-climb in wetter weather ropes are essential.

Downstream, a dam has been built across the streamway diverting the main flow down a hole to the left while beyond a syphon has been used to suck the water out of the muddy passage ahead. If the syphon is working and the weather is not too wet, then it is possible to pass through the static sump to the furthers t parts of the cave. The static sump at its best is a wet muddy squeeze. Conditions vary from aqua-mud to to 0.5 m or more of water. In very wet weather or if the syphon is not working, the static sump becomes impassible.

Do not enter in wet weather.

A voice connection has recently been made between on of the side passages beyond the static sump to a tube off the entrance to UNCABAC. This remains only a voice connection and there is no exit from this point except back through the static sump.

Alternate Names: ANUSC, A.N.U.S.C., ANUS Cave, A.N.U.S. Cave, 'Stream of the Caves' Stream Cave

Notes: The name of the cave derives from the Gaelic Allt nan Uamh which translates as Stream of the Caves (being the stream passing the Bone Caves at Creag nan Uamh), to this is added the designation stream cave indicating that this is the cave through which the underground section of the Allt nan Uamh flows.

The Allt nan Uamh Valley is part of the Ben More Assynt Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Hydrographic Feeds: Allt nan Uamh

Hydrographic Resurgences: Allt nan Uamh

Links and Resources:

This entry was last updated: 2020-10-19 19:51:44

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