In season 1, episode 2 of Running Wild, Bear Grylls and Ben Stiller took shelter in a sea cave near Elgol, off the coast of the Isle of Skye. Ben Stiller seemed to have misgivings about the trip, but we thought it looked fun! It turned out to be as awesome of an adventure as we thought it would be!
The coordinates to Spar Cave are 57.139899, -6.070985, and requires maneuvering through windy, back country farm roads once you pass through the outskirts of Elgol. We ended up lightly booping a bull on the nose (see Buzzfeed for definition of ‘boop’) because he was blocking part of the road. He didn’t seem to notice. I’m just thankful he didn’t flip the car over, which he could have easily done. Shortly after booping a 2,000-ish pound bull on the nose, we passed a phone booth on the right side of the road, which indicated we were heading in the right direction. Park near the phone booth as the trail to Spar Cave is about 200 meters ahead.
We parked a little further down from the phone booth near a wider opening on the side of the road, then followed the sheep.
Just past the roofless and ruinous stone building is a gate opening to a field with grazing sheep. Walk through to the end of the field.
Beware the “presents” these cute guys leave scattered across the field.
Just to the right of the stone building mentioned above, you will see a depression heading down. This is the path that leads to the coast.
Follow the faint path down and to the right.
Shortly after the meadow above, you will come across a depression, surrounded by trees.
Take this trail down. It leads to the coast.
This is what you will emerge from.
Once past the grassy area of the field and on the coastal rocks, facing the ocean you will veer to the left.
The seaweed is extremely slippery.
There is an inlet just around the corner that looks like it could be the cave but it is not. It’s just a narrow inlet that doesn’t go far back. I believe there are 2 narrow inlets you will have to pass. Continue hopping along the coastal rocks and go around the next corner.
You will have to traverse around the edge of the rock-ledge if you do not want to get into the water. This larger inlet is where the sea cave is hidden.
A partial stone wall still remains from the 19th century. It was built by a local landowner to prevent visitors from entering without a guide. It failed to deter Sir Walter Scott when he visited in 1814 (it is mentioned in “The Lord of the Isles”). He scaled the wall using a rope, which today is not necessary thanks to a passing ship that shot a cannon ball at it.
We brought two very bright headlamps to explore the cave. Thanks to the headlamps and the very bright Canon Speedlite flash, we were able to take these photos instead of featuring pictures of pure darkness.
The entrance to the cave is muddy but once you traverse further in, the mud disappears and you will be completely surrounded by wet cave formations. The floor looks slippery but it’s actually pretty grippy. Is that a word?
Return the same route you came from.
Be aware of how much time it takes you to get to the cave and explore. Spending too much time can result in getting trapped for hours in the cave by rising tide.
When to visit Spar Cave during low tide:
- Use this link to check for low tide times in Elgol: http://tides.willyweather.co.uk/he/highland/elgol.html
- You will have an hour either side of the given low tide time, which gives you 2 safe hours to find the cave and explore.
- For example: if low tide is 10:12 am, this means you have between 9:12 am – 11:12 am to safely explore.
- Be very aware of the time as the next low tide is in approximately 12 hours, meaning you can be trapped in the cave for 12 hours.
After exploring the cave, we spent some time sitting along the coast seal spotting.
Spar Cave Overview
- Coordinates: 57.139899, -6.070985
- Fees: FREE
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Usage: Light
- Things to note:
- Getting to the cave requires traversing over slippery boulders.
- Check for low tide times here: http://tides.willyweather.co.uk/he/highland/elgol.html
- Bring a very powerful head lamp/light for each person.