Explore the spectacular Smoo Caves

Set into limestone cliffs in Sutherland, Smoo Cave is a spectacular sea cave with an immense entrance that soars 50 feet high and, at 200 feet long, has the ability to make you feel very small indeed as you wander through the cavernous mouth!

Best visited as part of a circular walk that commences at the nearby car park, Smoo Cave – named from the Old Norse smuga, meaning hiding place – has provided shelter for dwellers for thousands of years. During the Viking era, the area was home to a fishing and shipbuilding community, providing protection from passing boats.

Inside the cave, a wooden walkway and bridge provides access for visitors, leading them to a magnificent waterfall that cascades 25 metres into an 8-metre deep plunge pool. Illuminated from above, the waterfall casts an ethereal presence in the darkness of the cave.

For the intrepid wishing to gain an innermost view of Smoo Cave, guided geological tours are available, commencing with a short boat ride into the cavern, before taking visitors into its darkest depths.

GETTING THERE AND OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Arriving by car

Smoo Cave is located on the A838, 1 mile east of Durness.

Parking and public toilets are available on-site.

Arriving by bus

The Smoo Cave bus stop is located near the car park, which is served by services from Durness and Lairg. 

Accessibility

While the walkways inside Smoo Cave are easily negotiated, the path from the car park is steep with some steps, so may pose a challenge for visitors with restricted mobility. 

THINGS TO SEE AND DO NEARBY

  • Unspoilt beaches don’t get much better than Balnakeil Bay, just two miles from Smoo Cave. With a wide crescent of white sand fringed by grassy dunes, Balnakeil is an incredibly beautiful and serene spot where crowds are unheard of, while the evening sunsets are simply spectacular.
  • For a fascinating few hours, head to Balnakeil Craft Village, a curious assortment of local businesses selling an array of creations, from chocolate and ceramics to art and glasswork. From here you can also take a boat trip to Smoo Cave or Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point in the UK.
  • Durness Deep Time is a small yet fascinating exhibition delving into 3000 million years of geology in the north-west of Scotland, adapted for all age groups and levels of knowledge. Educational walks are also available, led by the resident geologist.

PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK

The closest eatery to Smoo Cave, the Smoo Cave Hotel offers a tempting choice of dining options, from hot and cold snacks for a mid-afternoon treat, to wholesome lunches and evening meals.

For chocoholics, Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil, at the Balnakeil Craft Village, is a personal paradise, though, on a cool, gusty day, the tempting range of hot chocolates, mochas, teas, and coffees will be welcome relief whatever your predilections! 

DID YOU KNOW…?

It’s unsurprising that 40,000 people visit Smoo Cave every year: the cave is the only one of its kind in the UK, with the first chamber eroded by the sea, the inner chambers created by rainwater dissolving the carbonate rock overhead.

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