Site list (GPS fixes)
Walks (GPS tracks)
1976, 1977, 1979,
1982, 1983, 1985,
1986, 1987, 1988,
1989, 2000, 2001,
2002, 2003, 2004,
2005, 2006, 2007,
2008, 2009, 2010,
2011, 2012, 2013,
2014, 2015, 2016
The Battle of
Expedition log, Summer 2013
Potes, Cangas, Pruneda, etc. (the 40th anniversary of first caving
||Arrive Santander on time, 4 hours apart. Rte. Puenticilla for bread
and cheese then on to Potes, arriving midnight; tapas on arrival
at Casa Cayo most welcome.
||First a visit to Lebeña to check BUSS reports of a cave –
very unlikely as no limestone seen. Next to San Esteban (road off
the Deva Gorge at Rumenes, north of Urdón).
Easily identified David Lopez’s house where we enjoyed cheese & wine
40 years ago. Hiked to the Mirador (a fine vantage point) to see
if we could work out where Cueva Los Jarres would be, but it became
obvious that there were too many possibilities to explore, in very
San Esteban (Lopez house at right)
On over the pass to Cuñaba where we were surprised (and pleased)
to find a bar. Back to the Deva gorge, and as a little early for
lunch went a little further north to check the road through Robriguero
to Bores; rather boring. Back to La Hermida and a stroll around
where, across the recent footbridge and south, we discovered a stream
with all the signs (tufa, etc.) of being resurgence water. No obvious
way to cross private land to confirm this.
Tapas of Picón (blue) cheese from Bejes in Posada La Cuadrona,
then to Rte. Paquin for a pleasant lunch (sopa, lomo, chuleta
de cerdo, queso de Tresviso) after which we gave the landlady
a picture of the BUSS expedition in the village in 1973
– much appreciated.
Next up to Bejes to take pictures of the guerillas’ memorial at the
La Quintana/Bejes junction. Then, after waiting for a tanker to
clear the village, decided to try the road towards Sotres again (last
time, in 2006, we were stopped by poor weather).
A spectacular track – but very definitely single carriageway (fortunately
no vehice was met). The road contoured left around the mountains
with huge unprotected drops on the right which gave the passenger
‘interesting’ views and a touch of vertigo. A few stops allowed
us to explore some small speleological possibilities and take photos
across the valley to Tresviso, etc.
The track eventually arrived joined the Sotres–Tresviso road at
Majada del Hoyo del Tejo. A much faster descent to Sotres for a
welcome beer and a discussion on how best to return to Potes. Back
the way we came was unthinkable, so the options were the huge loop
via Arenas and Panes or over the massif via Áliva. Choosing the
latter, we made good progress and much dust and quite soon arrived
in Espinama and so back to Potes. A mediocre meal at one of the
central open-air restaurants.
||Up at 8:30 for breakfast. North to La Hermida, then east to
Venta Fresnedo with the intention of descending one of the upper
entrances to the Sistema del Toyu which we surveyed 31 years
There appears to have been a collapse near the barn entrance revealing
a 5 m pitch into a chamber. The old entrance is a steep descent
through undergrowth (as in 1982). Bill, dressed in shorts didn’t
appreciate the stinging nettles.
The alternative entrance, Cueva de Roza, was screened by more nettles
and seemed very small for us so we chicken out, and after a hike
up the path alongside the river decided to go to lunch at Casa Gloria,
in Camijanes, where we devoured a large lechazo washed down with
a bottle of Ribera del Duero. The coast was close so we had a walk
around San Vicente de la Barquera.
Cueva de Roza entrance
Dinner back in Potes – still replete from the lechazo, so just
a shared plate of chips in Picón (blue cheese) sauce. Two large,
fighting, dogs cannon into Mike and he is knocked off balance, badly
twisting a knee.
||Mike woke up to find his leg bruised and very painful, so a driving day to
Fuente De and then Espinama for lunch (truchas). Bill goes to
the Picos visitors centre in Tama and watches a film.
||Mike feels slightly better but we still concentrate on driving.
First a quick look at Cueva de Fair Share, then on to look for
the road beyond Mier (on the Cares river) leading to an area noted
on 4 July; this was not found. We then drove up to Para, and then
Áliva but the track from the latter over the Sierra del Cuera is
not legally accessible to cars. There was a magnificent view of
Suarias and we notice a valley, track, and possible potential area
for resurgence(s) draining the depressions above – in particular
the Oyo Ceñal. We soon located the track above Suarias and Bill
continued on foot in radio contact with Mike. Below the saddle Bill
glimsed a grey limestone cliff face but failed to reach it or locate
Cueva de Fair Share
Over lunch in Rte. Covadonga, in Panes, we agreed to try again from
above and after 10 minutes down an easy track on the left of the
Suarias road we located an wooded depression where water was heard.
Within 5 minutes walk from the road a major sink was found with two
big entrances (Δ). Bill followed
the straight streamway down a gentle gradient of 10 degrees to the
head of a 2 m pitch with clean water cascading into a pool maybe
80 cm deep. This pitch was not descended, but the passage clearly
continues – possibly towards the resurgence and the cliff face.
A through trip looks possible at least.
La Redonda entrance
Shortly after we met a local farmer who identified the cave as La
Redonda (Reonda). Back via Bejes.
||Inspired by yesterday’s discovery of the sink, a more thorough
investigation of the valley with cliff face was warranted. The volume
of water seemed more of a trickle than the stream going into the
cave, but this was followed up to above the level of the stream at
the sink (~167m). We both thought we spotted the ‘cliff face’ in
the distance, but it turned out to be a slope with grey dried vegetation.
Radios were useful for coordination of the search.
La Redonda pitch
Now at the top of the hill, Mike decided to contour back to the Suarias
sink area to favour his knee while Bill returned back down the hill
and brought the car up to Suarias and then (with Mike on the track
Δ with radio) returned to the cave.
La Redonda dragonfly
The objective of the return to the cave was to reassess the pitch
which is probably 2.5 m with no free climb possible. Belay points
exist as natural holes in the rocks of the stream bed (4m from the
pitch). A couple of beautiful yellow dragonflies were hatching from
nymphs in the darkness near the entrance.
It now being over 29°C we decided lunch was next in plan; executed
with another pleasant menú at Paquin in La Hermida (asparagus,
merluza en salsa). Back to Potes with a short walk up the side
valley opposite the Deva Gorge ‘bus shelter’. Bill spots a ‘torca’
beside the path; deemed worth a return at a future date.
||After breakfast at 8:30 (4 cafe con leches, 2 raciones de
tortilla) we drive north again to revisit the footpath up the valley
and stream (riega) towards Cicera.
Bill in particular wanted to descend to river level to see if there
was and entrance below the ‘torca’ (Δ)
at the footpath. This took some time as the valley banks are steep
and slippery. It was hot so it was a real pleasure to wade through
the river (and a bit safer too). There was indeed a rock shelter
there with a crawl leading off into the mountainside (not explored).
After ascending 150 m along the path we returned to La Hermida for
refreshment (more good Picón cheese!).
Riega Cicera ‘torca’
Thus fortified, we tried the Navedo foot path (gpx).
Within 20 m there we found a rock shelter into which a house had
been built. We suspect this was once a show cave project, now rather
Pressing on we passed canyoners in the pretty potholed limestone
streamway, but then the geology turned to sandstone as the footpath
passed through wooded country. The shade was welcome in the summer
heat but we were frustrated not to see the panorama. Mike checked
the GPS and found we were only 200 m from Navedo village so we continued
on, only to find there was no bar! Retracing our steps we returned
to La Hermida for lunch at La Cuadrona (truchas for Bill and
lomo for Mike). And more Picón cheese from Bejes.
Cave on walk to Navedo
After lunch we drove to Cicera and Navedo to see the valleys from
above; both villages are some distance from limestone.
Dinner at El Cenador del Capitán: chuletillas and Duck Magret,
with Picos Joven wine.
Queso Picón de Bejes
An efficient departure from Potes; Bill perfectly times his arrival
at the shop opposite the hotel as it opens and procures a queso
Picón de Bejes. Head north to Panes and a brief stop at Casa
Ramón in Carreña near Arenas, and then via Rales and Posada to
Llanes. Bar Uria for refreshment then El Almacen for lunch of mushrooms,
Next to Ruente to view the intermittent fountain, then to Altamira
for the museum and Neocueva reconstruction of the real cave and its
paintings. €3 seemed good value, even though they only allowed
one leaflet per ‘group’.
With perfect timing, we arrived at Puenticilla at 18:45 with an hour
to spare only to find that they wouldn’t serve cheese plates until
20:00, so Bill was delivered hungry to the airport at 19:15. Mike
finds a hotel in San Vicente; dinner at a popular restaurant near
the west bridge, north of the main road (El Mozucu).
||Still troubled by a sore knee, Mike reverts to semi-sightseeing
mode. First a once-around the Castillo del Rey at San Vicente, then
south to revisit El Soplao show cave (last vist was in 2007). Curious to compare it with Carlsbad Cavern visited 3
months before. Conclusion: Carlsbad is easily the larger/bigger
cave, but the formations (especially helictites ») in El Soplao are far better – breathtaking. Views
from the showcave’s Mirador (missed, last time) were good, even though
hazy in the 30° heat.
View from El Soplao Mirador
Lunch (menú) in Casa Gloria, Camijanes, was above average (notably
la parrillada de verduras), then west to Cangas with a stop in
Arenas for a perfectly timed visit to the cheese museum. The Cangas
main street was more subdued than remembered, but the parallel street
is now a pedestrian area and packed with open-air dining restaurants,
etc. Hard to choose; then noticed one had wickerwork chairs rather
than hard wooden seats or benches...
A cooler morning, and mostly cloudy over Cangas. Decided to head
for the Lakes anyway and soon broke through the clouds and was able
to take nice pictures of them (from above) at Mirador La Reina.
Lago Ercina panorama (click for full size)
Early enough (09:45) to be able to drive up to and park at Lago Ercina
for photos in clear air then a slow hike clockwise around the lake
in perfect weather and breeze; swapped cameras briefly with a visitor
from Germany for portraits. Then (after refreshment) a short walk
to the NE for new views and photos. Stopped again at Mirador La
Reina to compare with earlier view – the drop back to the road was
not good for the car. Down to Casa Maria at Mestas de Con for an
above-average menú in sweltering heat (beans, good merluza).
A very light supper of tapas (olives).
MFC at Lago Ercina
Forecast wet in the mountains, so to Covadonga and viewed the cave,
museum, and Basilica; the museum was quite odd, containing mostly
objects donated to the shrine by the devoted. Lunch (excellent menú,
including best-ever escalopines con salsa Cabrales) at Rte. Covadonga
in Ribadesella. East to view the Bufones de Pria (close to Llames,
NW of Nueva); a bit quiet, but a sea breeze was most welcome. Back
to a hotter (29°C) Cangas via Arriondas.
||Latish start and arrrived at the Funicular de Bulnes expecting long
queues and a wait as it was Sunday. No queue at all – perhaps partly
because the return ticket is now €21.50 (€17.10 up and
Up to Bulnes on the 12:00 run (Δ), then
a walk (gpx) up the easterly path with a diversion
to the Mirador de Pico Urriellu (Δ)
for a spectacular view of the peak. Carried on up to about 760 m
before heading down to the village for something cool at La Casa
del Puente. Next to the upper village (where the bar was closed
and For Sale) and then back down to the main village (finding a pet
rock source on the way) for lunch at the Bar-Restaurante (and hotel)
Bulnes, near the bridge.
On to Llanes via Arenas (map shopping), Cueva Geoffo (Cueva Cosagra),
a stop at the El Mazuco junction to calibrate/check GPS, and a short
walk to re-locate Rafa’s Cabaña. Dinner at Casa Canene.
Time for some real caving .. still knee problems, so needed a cave
near a road. The objective was to take experimental photos and so
the cave should also not be dripping wet; decided on Pruneda and
was soon driving up the very steep track and wishing the car were
narrower. Fortunately there were no descending farm vehicles and
the parking spot was reached without incident.
Pruneda ‘wet’ entrance
The stream into the cave was smaller than usual, but even so the
cave offered a number of opportunities for photographic experiments
(depth-of-field, stereoscopic pairs, etc.) The Led Lenser P7 hand
torch and new SEO5 headlamp allowed successful flash-free photographs,
too, if somewhat ‘vignetted’.
Water-worn limestone in Pruneda
Back out to hot sunshine (later realized this was the 30th anniversary, almost to the day, of first visit), and quickly
down the track. Lunch at Casa Poli (with an especially pleasant
wine: Coto de Imaz Reserva 2005) and back to Llanes via Playa de
Ballota. Very light supper of potatoes and pimientos de Padrón
in the bar opposite Siete Puertas.
||Lots of time to kill on the way to SDR so after arriving at
Santander first drove around the coast to the east of Santander (not
very exciting) to Argoños and Santona. Then went back to the southerly
entrance of the Parque de Cabárceno, at Cabárceno, for a bocadillo
for lunch. Successfully emptied the tank, arriving at the airport
with 15 km range shown. A few drops of rain were seen – the first
in two weeks. Flight and drive home uneventful.
- Exchange rate: 1.16; 86p = 1 Euro = 166 pesetas (192 pts/GBP).
- Fuel costs: 1610 km covered at cost of €126 (15 km range remaining)
→ 12.8 km/euro
- Weather: Hot and sunny, 28–31°C max every day except final
- Specific GPS positions are shown by a delta symbol (Δ)
in the log above – click on the symbol for a Google maps view of
the fix. These positions are also listed on the Speleogroup site list page with coordinates in °,′,″ degrees using
European 1950 datum and in UTM coordinates (both matching Spanish
maps and the digital TOPO Penínsular Norte); see Coordinate systems.
- Two walks were recorded as GPS tracks; the .gpx files are linked
above and can also be found on the Speleogroup tracks
page; tracks and fixes were recorded using a Garmin Oregon 600.
- This log was almost entirely edited in the field on an ASUS Eee
PC 900, using the MemoWiki » extended Wiki notation which is then processed by a Rexx » script to generate the HTML for this web page.