Foss caves, Schiehallion, Scotland 02/01/2022

Foss caves, Schiehallion, Scotland 02/01/2022

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    John wanted to do some winter skills and hiking and the only way I would be truly happy with this is if I could find some caves nearby too. So I set about researching limestone areas near the Cairngorns, where we were heading to and found there is a little known karst area, stretching from Schiehallion, through Blair Atoll in thin bands, which was about an hours drive south. In my research, I came across a series of caves known as Foss caves that were certain to be fun, in that they had no descriptions whatsoever, other than the length. John agreed to join me on doing these caves on the way home. There are a few more caves in the limestone, but otherwise it’s a rather blank area.

    Foss resurgence
    Was meant to be 14m long, but was completely sumped at the entrance. It had been raining quite a bit and still was on and off.

    Foss 1
    The main cave, 100m long apparently. A hole in the ground leads to a 4m climb into a raging torrent, rushing across the passage, from upstream and crashing down a cascade on our left. We headed downstream first over the cascade, which had an easy squeeze to start with. The passage was quite fun steeply sloping passage in banded rock. However, all too quickly it lowered to a duck. With snowmelt water and more rain to come, we did not pass this further. Upstream was a slipped block, blocking the passage that proved to be a tight squeeze. However, we passed this to crawling passage that diminished in size until this too became too wet. Did I mention the water was barely above freezing?

    Foss 1 entrance
    Entrance to Foss 1

    Downstream cascade
    Downstream cascade

    Sqeeze over block
    Squeeze over block

    A bit too low

    Upstream a bit too low

    Foss 2
    Found on the way back, a choked hole with a stream flowing through the bottom. Can be dug out.

    Foss 3
    This is where the water for the other Foss cave’s sink. The water entering was flowing over grass meaning water levels today were very high. Only I entered as it looked quite wet. Initially low I could see the cave increased in size crossing over fallen blocks. After a few bends the passage got really low and with the amount of water going in, I turned around here.

    Passage in Foss 3

    Passage in Foss 3

    Foss 4
    We followed the stream uphill where it vanished underground again, appearing straight out of the grass, about 50m further on along a dry valley we spotted an opening. A narrow entrance led into wider passage, with about half the water of Foss 3 but also half the size. The passage was nicely clean washed and Scalloped. Ahead was an easy squeeze, until a few dog legs where the passage steeply descended in much smaller passage. There was again too much water to progress.

    Foss 5
    Further uphill was another entrance, this one was much larger than Foss 2 – 4 and contained initially walking passage. The stream flowed into a blockage on the right, but we were able to follow it uphill. The passage lowered to flat out but it was only for a meter or so. Again it rose to walking height until an almost too small and waterlogged hole looked like the only way on. Thankfully to the right was a dry but awkward passage which after 20m further deposited me at another higher entrance. It was a through trip!

    Definitely a place we should return to when much warmer and drier and maybe neo-prene!


    Excellent – always good to go caving in the esoteric areas. Sounds wet.

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