Spar Cave is an astonishing, cathedral-like structure, some 50m long, with a marble-like flowstone staircase and huge columns formed from the centuries of water dripping through the limestone. In places the roof of the cave has been discoloured by the candles and torches of visiting Victorians, who also removed as souvenirs many of the stalagmites and stalactites. They didn't manage to destroy the magic though.
The cave was visited by Sir Walter Scott in 1814. He later described it in “The Lord of the Isles” as:
The mermaid’s alabaster grot, who bathes her limbs in sunken well, deep in Strathaird’s enchanted cell.
You'll find Spar Cave near Elgol, at Glasnakille on the western shore of Loch Slapin - NG538128. Go south at the T-junction in Glasnakille and after 50m, opposite the first white house, you will see a stile on your left that will take you to the route down.
Follow the fairly clear, though steep and sometimes slippery, path down the cliffs to a rocky inlet. From there, go left along the shoreline beneath the cliffs. The canyon that leads to the cave entrance lies just round the next headland. It is about 50m long, with vertical sides 15m high. Work your way across the rocks to the far end of the canyon where you will find the remains of a doorless wall. (This was built in the 19th century to enable the then proprietor to charge entrance fees. However, a passing gunboat used it for target practice!)
Beyond the wall, there are two entrances to the cave – the one you want is the one on the left. The entrance is muddy, but it becomes firm underfoot as you go further in. Soon you reach the steep and slippery-looking staircase. In fact it has great grip and is much easier to ascend than it appears.
The "stairway" in Spar Cave
The reward at the top is a view down to the final, crystal clear pool near the end of the cave. It is fairly easy to descend to this last pool, but not easy to cross it. Return the same way.
The cave is accessible only at low tide. Please check the tide times before venturing out - and leave enough time to get back round the headland before you are cut off. Tread carefully on the wet and seaweed covered rocks. A visit to Spar Cave is not without risk. Do take care.
The glittering pools inside the cave are amazing. Take a really good torch to see them at their best.You will also be grateful to have taken wellies and waterproofs.
There is, of course, an easier way into the gorge and cave at high tide - if you have the right equipment...