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The Haunting Beauty of Smoo Cave in Durness, Scotland

The Haunting Beauty of Smoo Cave in Durness, Scotland

Smoo Cave is a popular destination for tourists, as it is one of the most impressive stone age caves in Britain. It is a natural sea cave and is one of the largest in Britain. It is formed from two sea caves that have joined together around 150 meters long.

The cave has a large entrance and a chamber around 20 meters high. There are also several smaller chambers and passages. The cave is home to a colony of bats, and there are also many stalactites and stalagmites.

What is Smoo Cave?

Smoo Cave

Carved deep into Scotland’s towering limestone cliffs, The cave’s natural beauty and singular air of mystery made it a popular destination. It is named Smoo Cave because of the Smoo waterfall, which flows into the cave.

Located near Durness, Sutherland, the cave features three chambers, an underground river, and the largest seaward entrance of any such cave in the UK — an entrance that looms nearly 50 feet above the swells of the North Sea.

 The cave is a popular destination for tourists, as it is one of the most impressive caves in Britain.

t is also a popular destination for photographers, as the cave offers stunning views. Smoo Cave is a great place to visit and is sure to impress.

How to get to Smoo Cave in Durness

View in Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave is located in Durness, Sutherland, in northern Scotland. It is a popular tourist destination and can be reached by following the A838 from Durness to the cave.

The cave has a car park, and visitors can walk to the cave entrance. The cave is open all year round, and entry is free.

Is Smoo Cave free?

View of the insides of Smoo Cave, Scotland
Morganti / Adobe Stock

Smoo Cave is free to visit if you explore the exhibition spaces. You will need a Smoo ticket to enter the cave, Smoo Café, or Smoo Plus (private function space).

Smoo tickets are £14 and include a guided tour of Smooscape and an exhibition or experiences at Smooda restaurant.

It is a geological wonder located on the north coast of Scotland. The relentless pounding of the North Atlantic waves has formed the cave over thousands of years.

Smoo Cave Travel Tips

View of the Smoo Cave in Sutherland, Scotland
MatousVins / Adobe Stock

Smoo Cave is a natural wonder that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Formed over millions of years, Smoo Cave is a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that will take your breath away.

Here are some tips for making the most of your visit:

  • Wear sturdy shoes – the cave floor can be slippery in places.
  • Bring a flashlight – the cave can be dark in places.
  • Don’t forget your camera – the sea cave is truly a photographer’s paradise.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – the cave is home to some fantastic wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for bats, newts, and other creatures.

Whether you’re an experienced caver or a first-timer, Smoo Cave is an unforgettable experience. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!

The Legends of Smoo Cave

Entrance to Smoo Cave

Ancient stories tell of a gateway to the faerie world, guarded by spirits and in this enigmatic cave. In 1814, when Sir Walter Raleigh entered the third chamber by boat, he described it as an exceedingly strange and appropriate home for dark beings from the netherworld.

But the story of Smoo Cave goes back much further than Raleigh’s visit. Artifacts from the Norse, Neolithic, and Iron Ages have been found in the cave’s main chamber.

The main chamber’s blowhole is the scene of several murders in the 16th century when a Scottish highwayman tossed his enemies into it.

In the early 1700s, the cave was the setting for a murderous trap. The residents of nearby Durness lured a clan of marauders into the cave and slaughtered them to a man. More deaths occurred later in the century when two Inland Revenue officers were drowned in the second chamber’s thunderous waterfall. One body was never recovered, and that ghost is said to haunt the waterfall.

Surrounded by the stark beauty of the gray ocean, white sands, and eerie rock formations, Smoo Cave is haunted by legend, uncannily magnificent, and unique. It’s an experience that no visitor to Northern Scotland should miss and well worth adding to any traveler’s bucket list.

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Smoo Cave Features

Interior of Smoo Cave in Durness

The spectacular cave system has been carved out by water over centuries and is now open to visitors who want to explore its dark and mysterious beauty. The cave is also home to various wildlife, including bats, which can be seen flying around in the cave entrance chamber.

Smoo Cave is a natural wonder that is chock-full of chambers. Some of the most popular sections in Smoo Cave are the Doon Smoo Chamber, the King’s Chamber, and the Queen’s Chamber.

Doon Smoo Chamber

The Doon Smoo Chamber is perhaps the most famous in the cave. Doon Smoo is a Gaelic word that means “the cave of the two holes.” This chamber gets its name from the two large natural openings in the ceiling, which let in light and fresh air. The Doon Smoo Chamber is also home to some of the most beautiful stalactites and stalagmites in Smocave.

King’s Chamber

The King’s Chamber is one of the largest chambers in the cave. It gets its name from the large, natural ceiling opening resembling a crown. The chamber is also home to some stunning stalactites and stalagmites.

Queen’s Chamber

The Queen’s Chamber is another large chamber in the sea cave. It gets its name from the beautiful, natural opening in the ceiling that resembles a queen’s crown. The section is also home to some stunning stalactites and stalagmites.

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Where the Sea and River Meet

The Lookout Near Smoo Cave in Durness, Scotland

One of the unique features of Smoo Cave is that it contains both fresh water and seawater as well as its waterfall chamber. While its inner rooms were carved out by the river Alt Smoo, its first chamber and gaping entry were created by the constant pounding of the North Sea.

The unceasing action of water upon limestone has created a sea cave that extends 200 feet into the cliff above, with three chambers as wide as 130 feet across. Toward the back of the cave, the Alt Smoo pours through a large sinkhole, creating a rushing underground waterfall in the cavern’s second chamber.

Visitors walk down a long wooden stairway from the clifftop to the ocean shore for year-round access to the cave. A wooden covered walkway leads through the vast first chamber and into the inky darkness of the second chamber, where the waterfall rages.

Those who don’t mind getting wet can sometimes experience the waterfall from a close-up viewing platform. The waterfall is so powerful that the chamber is filled with clouds of mist.

At these times, the thundering sound of the water can be nearly overwhelming. On calmer days, visitors can take a small boat into the third chamber, which is only water-accessible.

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Nearby attractions to Smoo Save

The Old Man of Stoer

Old Man of Stoer

The sea cave is located close to the Old Man of Stoer, a huge rock formation that stands at the entrance to the cave. A strange figure is said to haunt the area around the cave.

Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay Scenery

Just a few miles from the ave is Sandwood Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. The beach is a long, wide stretch of sand surrounded by stunning scenery. It is a popular spot for walkers, and it is also home to a variety of wildlife, including seals, deer, and birds.

Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath Scenery

If you are looking for an even more remote and unspoiled beach, you should head to Cape Wrath. This is the most northerly point of mainland Britain and an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The beach here is a wild and rugged place, and it is the perfect spot for a nature lover.

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Best Places to Stay Around Smoo Cave

Croft 103

Croft 103 in Durness, Scotland
Gabrielle / TripAdvisor

The Croft 103 is an accommodation that is located near the cave. It is a five-star hotel that offers guests various services, including a spa, a restaurant, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also has a fitness and a business center.


The Cloister is a charming hotel that is located near Smoo Cave. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking to visit the cave, and it has some excellent amenities that will make your stay very comfortable.

The hotel is also situated in a great location and close to some other beautiful attractions you’ll want to check out.

Smoo Cave Hotel

Sunset view and the exterior of Smoo Cave Hotel
Smoo Cave Hotel / Facebook

The Smoo Cave Hotel is a four-star accommodation located in the Smoo Cave. The hotel offers guests various services and amenities, including a spa, a restaurant, and a bar. It is also the home to the Cave Adventure Centre, which offers guests a variety of activities, including caving, kayaking, and rock climbing.

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