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The name Smoo is thought to be derived from the Norse word "smjugg" meaning hole creek or cleft. This impressive sea cave has been carved into Durness limestone by successive episodes of high sea level over the past several hundred years. The huge entrance, the largest entrance of any sea cave in the British Isles is more than 15 meters high and leads into the first chamber which is more than 60 meters long and 40 meters wide. The second chamber, containing the waterfall, is about 21 meters by 9 meters and can be viewed from a specially constructed platform, the third chamber is accessible only by a small boat.

The Smoo burn Allt Smoo drops nearly 25 meters into the second chamber down a vertical shaft, the Falis Smoo or chimney Smoo as the as the sink hole in the roof is called. The burn cascades into a deep pool with a depth of around eight meters. After heavy rain, the Allt Smoo is changed into a raging torrent that crashes into the underground lochan with a gigantic roar. The "blow hole" and waterfall can be observed from an observation point above the cave. 

The Allt Smoo, noisily pours in through a gap and falls 80 feet.

1814   Visited by Sir Walter Scott.  In the diary of Sir Walter Scott for the 19th September 1814 there is a covering description of his visit to the cave and he notes the effects of his lamp on the dew covered stalactites as, "The effect of ten thousand birthday candles. The cave was covered with stalactites and stalagmites. A water kelpie or an evil spirit of aquatic propensities could not have chosen a fitter abode and to say the truth I believe at our first entrance and all our feelings were afloat at the marvelling of the scene the unexpected splashing of a seal would have routed the whole dozen of us. Impossible for description to explain the impression made by so strange a place." Read the Diary. Vol.4. 19th Aug. l8l4.

1833. An account from a party entering the cave" After providing ourselves with a small boat and lights, and raising them over the arc, we found ourselves in a lake about thirty yards long and nearly as broad; we now lighted our candles and approached an arch in the rock under which we could just pass by lying flat on the boat. This opened to another lake of equal length, but gradually diminishing in breadth. Having at the upper end left the boat we walked over the rock about thirty paces in the same direction. The height of the roof is various from twenty to sixty feet and its sides and bases are almost covered with stalactites and stalagmites formed by the dropping roof of the cave, which is entirely, composed of limestone. The temperature of a well at the upper end we found to be forty eight degrees Fahrenheit."

1858 A Journal of Richard Charles Weld, Two months in the Highlands, Orcadia and Skye reports that a 15 shilling charge was being made for a boat rip across a flooded chamber. Extra for lights

1904 First organised excavation took place but a report was never published. 

1935 Pilling, J, A : Smoo Cave, 22 pp 4 plates S typed MSS reprints accounts of Scott, Heddle, Pocock, q.v, plates pub BC 9 11. article in BC 7 44-51 based on it; reprinted BC 53 36-39. Cave Sci .3 (22) 277-285, 287 a reprint.

1936 A detailed account of exploring the cave by R. Macdonald Robertson in a book Angling in Wildest Scotland

1941a Pilling, J, A : Smoo Cave, Millennial Star. pub the Latter-Day Saints. 103 (25) 394-396 illus 19th June.

1941b Pilling, J, A : Smoo Cave, BC 17 44-51 (based on Pilling 1935)

1954 Pilling, J, A : Notes on Smoo Cave, Sutherland, Cave Sci 3 (22) 277-285,287. reprint of Pilling 1935 without plates.

1964  Standing, P: Smoo Cave, GSS Jl 3 (1) 18-19

1965  Sivley, D : Smoo Cave, Windy City Speleonews 5 1, 5, 6,

1968  Jeffreys, A, L. (): The Great Cave of Smoo, Jl Settle Group British Speleological Association pp l6-19 map S

1969 Pilling, J, A : Smoo Cave, BC 53 36-42 reprint of BC 7 44-51 based on Pilling 1935.

1972 Jeffreys, A, L: Ideas on the formation of Smoo Cave

1972 Small entry in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland by Keillar .

1977 First attempts at a regular commercial excursion into the inner chambers

1981 A visit and an article written by Jim Johnston for the Scots Magazine        

1985, the Highland Council spent forty five thousand pounds on land acquisition, car parking facilities, picnic site, footpath and viewing area improvements around Smoo.

1986  The Royal Engineers of the Territorial Army built steps descending the steep slope and a stone bridge over the burn making the entrance to the cave easily accessible.

1989, Smoo Cave was denotified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

1991 Cave was modernised, the footpaths improved and light installed.

1992 & 1996 Archaeological excavation in the cave by Tony Pollard of Glasgow University Archaeological Division for Caithness And Sutherland Enterprise and Historic Scotland

2002 Report by John Finlay Associates addressing the development potential of Smoo Cave

2002 Visited by Tony Oldham with a detailed report  for "Discovering Caves" - A guide to the Show Caves of Britain.

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