Bennane Cave, or Snib’s Cave, can be found down the closed and now bypassed original coast road off the A77.
A mortared masonry wall stands across the entrance to the cave, once inside you can see the remains of a now blocked window and the fireplace. There are traces of mortar on the rocks above the wall, suggesting that the cave was completely walled up previously. Further back is a second wall with a doorway that separates the front and back of the cave. While the front of the cave is very damp, towards the second room at the back of the cave it becomes much drier, this area was probably what served as the dwellings bedroom.
Henry Ewing Torbet, also known as Snib Scott, lived as a hermit in Bennane Cave. As he never gave his own name, it is thought that he inherited the name Snib from the previous cave dweller. Torbet was born in 1912 and passed away in 1983, for the last three decades of his life the cave was his home.
Born in Dundee, Torbet trained as an accountant but he gave up his job, severed all connections, and took to the road becoming a tramp and a beggar. After several arrests for begging in the 1940s and 1950s, he disappeared for a while before reappearing near Arrochar and moving into an abandoned miner’s cottage in Ayrshire.
Torbet was described as a very proud man. For many years he was self-sufficient, doing odd jobs for the locals, hunting rabbits, and gathering leftover potatoes, he foraged the beaches for driftwood for a fire and fish to cook on it. He would collect bottles and exchange these at the local shop for items he needed, he did not claim state benefits and he would not accept charity in the form of food or clothing, these were left for him on the dyke near the cave and he would collect them once the donor had left.
Unfortunately, a fierce gale made his cave almost uninhabitable and in December 1983 he was found in his cave suffering from pneumonia and hypothermia. He was taken to hospital where, sadly, he died two days later. A memorial cairn to Torbet stands nearby, erected by funds raised by public subscription.
Know Before You Go
Not to be confused with Sawney Bean's Cave further up the coast towards Ayr.