One of the pleasures of carrying out the dig at Cairds' Cave this summer was meeting and talking to people who had come along from Rosemarkie for a look. Several mentioned there once being a path up the cliff near the cave, which had a rope fastened at one point, someone even said it was known as the Pilgrim Path.
I had also heard two interesting stories about this path, one was of a local farmer who used to walk back from the pub along the beach, up the cliff path to his home at one of the farms above. Another was of a female relative of two ladies I met, who had climbed up the path carrying two small children.
I was intrigued by these stories and have been waiting for the bracken to die down. Today I went along to Cairds and approaching from the beach, it was quite easy to see parts of a zigzag path on the west, Rosemarkie, side of Skart Craig. So I went up and think I might have found the route of the original path (though I haven't checked on the other side of the cave yet). It seems that it is in regular use by deer, which is why the foliage has been disturbed. About halfway up, I found a piece of a 19th century earthenware bowl.
There was no sign of a rope, but I think I know where it would have been. The route up the slope is reasonably straightforward for anyone used to hill walking, but at the very top there is a short scramble over a rocky bit. A stout rope would be ideal as an additional handhold here. Going down, however, would be quite scary, a rope fastened at the top and over the rocky bit would be much appreciated.
As to whether this was a pilgrim's path I am not too sure, there are many easier ways up onto the Black Isle than taking this route, but I think it may well have been used in the past by locals as a means of going up and down the slope.
Update: I went and checked on the possible path on the other, SW, side of the cave a month later and found another route up. Like the other, NE, side, this was a moderate scramble, but had lots of loose rock underfoot, so I feel that the first route was the most likely to have been used in the past. However neither route is particularly easy and if there had been a more regular path to the top of the cliffs, there are several other places which would have been easier and more practical.