Cleeves Cove

North Ayrshire | Dalry | Cave | ★★★

[Main, west entrance to Cleeves Cove]

Compared to the underground labyrinths of England and Wales, Scotland isn't generally noted for its caving. Cleeves Cove (also known as the Elfhame - you can guess why) therefore comes as a welcome surprise to unadventurous speleologists: three obvious openings above the Dusk Water in rural Ayrshire lead to hundreds of metres of connected underground passageways through limestone, originally carved by the burn in a different era and climate. The cave was a popular attraction in the 1800s, when a certain John Smith removed tonnes of silt deposits to facilitate access. Disrespectful past visitors have sadly removed all but the tiniest stalactites, but cave spiders, moths and the reasonably complex network of natural tunnels remain. The caves are deep enough to cause serious problems if all your torches failed, and should not be entered without someone who has prior caving experience.

[Cave passage]

Location & info

📌 Cleeves Cove ★★★
Off minor road 3 mi southeast of Dalry, G.R.: NS 318475 ///wiggling.proves.mindset
Always open | Free

Anything else: The usual caving equipment and precautions must be taken (and go with someone with prior caving experience). Wellies are also recommended. A path to the cave leaves the road at about G.R.: NS 318474 ///humans.fell.rural - it's a few-min walk through the trees, ending at the top of the river embankment with various slippery trods leading steeply down to the cave entrances below. Parking nearby is extremely limited (and using the verge after wet weather may damage it) - you may need to walk a short distance.

[1833 cave plan - though we found it only vaguely matched the real thing]


[East entrance]

[Middle entrance]

[Cave passageway]

[Lots of spiders in the cave!]

[Dusk Water near the east entrance]

[Dusk Water near the west entrance]


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