Country diary: all around the Bone Caves, the stillness is spectacular

Country diary: all around the Bone Caves, the stillness is spectacular

Assynt, Sutherland: Here lay the bones of bears, wolves and humans, the past looming heavy on the present

The signs at the start of the glen tell me that a mile and a half beyond lie caves that held the bones of reindeer and brown bears, horses, arctic foxes, lemmings, wolves and lynx. It’s a dreich day with a heavy sky as we walk up it to the Bone Caves. The path is fringed with bracken and heather and occasional scree, and populated by midges that are thriving in the stillness.

Last time I was here, an early July a couple of years ago, the bracken was enlivened by countless beautiful magpie moths, black and white with just a touch of orange. Today there’s only the clack of a stonechat and, once, a flurry of grey wagtails tussling on the rocks of the burn we were following. There are flowers too in this beautiful limestone glen – occasional sunbursts of yellow mountain saxifrage, and near the caves the remnants of beautiful mountain avens, the back of their leaves extraordinarily silver in hue. This place always feels like the domain of ravens, but the sky is birdless, and in the glen no animals can be seen.

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