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The Battle of
Expedition log, Summer 2014
Llanes, Orandi, Pruneda, Potes, Urdón canal, San Vicente, Cobijón.
||Flights better than usual, good conversation on Mike’s. Both flights a bit late, but, after some confusion at the car rental counter, we were soon on the way to Llanes. Even with a stop in Oruña and a slow stretch for roadworks (the motorway missing link) we were in Llanes in plenty of time for a damp wander about the town before dinner at Casa Canene...
||First a spin along the autovía to test new PMR 446 radios – 3km+
range despite not line-of-sight. Next to Playa de Gulpiyuri and
a climb up to the cliffs for photos; unfortunately the tide was out,
so not optimal. Onwards, westwards to look for a cave spotted above
the industrial Polígono in 2011. Most unconvincing
[although on later days it looked better, from the Ribadesella direction].
Then swung SW towards Arriondas, but on a whim headed east through
Peruyes finally making it to Zardón along a reasonable road (not
even shown on the 1:80,000 map!) – new territory for us, although
unfortunately always below the limestone. South to the main Arenas–Cangas
road at Corao and via Mestas de Con etc. to El Mazuco for lunch (criollo,
tasty chuletillas, etc.). Back to Llanes via Posada; a very
light supper at La Taguara.
El Mazuco, Bar El Roxin
||Gorgeous sunny but cool (18°C) weather tempted us up the Funicular (now €21.72) to Bulnes.
First a hike to and then past the Mirador de Pico Urriellu (the view
a little clearer than last year). Then back down to the village
and up to El Castillo to the west. Lunch in Bulnes was average,
but good Cabrales cheese. On the way back to Llanes noted the position
of a promising cave entrance we’d seen before. It’s located in a
cliff face 400m NW of of Berodia, just west of a tongue of fields
(La Foz). Perhaps there’s a top entrance. Good gambas al ajillo
and criollo at La Amistad.
Mirador de Pico Urriellu view
||Monday, so we expected the lakes to be less crowded despite another
sunny morning. Started walking (📌,
gps track) at 10:40 up the track towards Cueva
Orandi but were inadvertently side tracked to the south east and
found ourselves way above Vega Orandi but in sight of the river near
the cave entrance. We discussed turning back but instead decided
that the easy looking descent to the upper Vega deserved a check.
The path along the bottom of the Vega past Las Mestas, following
the stream, was easy walking but we soon realized that the detour
had cost us 2km and the cave was 190m below our high point.
The entrance itself, 📌, was as
spectacular as ever but woodland obscured its 15–20m height until
we approached. The roar of the water cascading inside was unmistakable.
(The first pitch is 10m and takes the full stream).
The return journey out of the Vega was through the beech woods up
a shady valley. However, we were quite tired by this stage and
the climb was fairly slow – and we were not 100% sure we were on
the right track. Once over the ridge we soon found our previous
path and descended to the car (somewhat faster than our ascent) at
14:00. Statistics: 7.5 km, 3:19, 356 m ascent.
Half an hour later we arrived at Restaurante-Bar María Rosa and
were recognized immediately by the grand-children of the bartender/landlord
of the 1970s! An enormous escalope for Mike and a filete
for Bill, both served with some superior-tasting chips. The exercise
certainly had created an appetite! The skies became quite overcast
during lunch, with cloudbase down to the lake, so photographs and
further excursions were out. We returned to Llanes via Mestas and
Posada. A rather satisfactory day. :-)
Huge merluza a la plancha at the harbour (‘blue & white’) restaurant.
||Heavy rain in Llanes, so headed west and then south. Dry-ish by
Cangas, so went a few km further south to investigate Cueva Caneyón
shown on new map. From road south but west of Río Sella through
Dego, took minor road (just before the bridge back over the Sella)
with hairpins up to the village at El Collado de Andrín, mostly
populated by cats and dogs, it seemed. Unfortunately, at 430m, the
village was above the cloudbase – making only a token exploration
possible, although a plausible limestone ridge was spotted.
Back to Cangas to buy maps and check out the cheese shops, then (as
the rain began) west again to look for some lunch. Infiesto unpromising;
eventually found a little restaurant behind the Town Hall in Villaviciosa
(good Cabrales sauce, & sardines), close to some remarkable ‘wavy
pavement’ (actually flat).
Villaviciosa ‘wavy pavement’
Back to Llanes after a walk around the Bufones de Prķa, which were
impressively noisy, and Posada. Felt we had made good use of a damp
Raining in Llanes so headed west to Ribadesella to revisit Cueva
del Tenis (📌) and did the
through trip which had made such an impression on Bill three years before. At La Cuevona de Cueves (📌) the sun came out and we walked up and down the road
tunnel cave with lamps; returned to Ribadesella via another road
not marked on the map, just west of the river.
Cueva del Tenis
Lunch at Restaurante Covadonga in Ribadesella, then east to El Mazuco
to inspect Cueva a Sul (📌).
Bill regretted wearing only sandals as he arrived somewhat scratched
by brambles. There are some 3 entrances to this resurgence cave
and the middle one is the most accessible but leads immediately to
a pool about a metre deep. Beyond is a step up into a dryer chamber.
Worth returning in appropriate wading clothes.
Cueva a Sul
Tapas for dinner in Llanes, jamon with bread, tomato, and garlic.
Cheeses in La Taguara. Izadi in Vinateria Castillo where we met
||We settled our bills at Montemar and set off east to Purón. The
Seat Leon managed to climb up the very narrow mountain road (with
few passing places!) towards El Cuevon de la Pruneda (Purón
At the top there were some muddy pools on the track but the car didn’t
skid. The walk to the entrance(s) seemed rather more boggy than
we remembered. Our new 3W+ lights were more than adequate inside
the cave where we remained to take photos (mostly without flash)
for about 45 minutes.
By the time we arrived at La Hermida the sun was out again and we
had a very good lunch at Restaurante Paquin (paella, truchas/lomo,
Picón blue cheese washed down with a bottle of Pena Prieta tinto.
The family offered us copitas (shots) of Orujo (rather like Baileys),
Walked round Potes for a while and then checked into Casa Cayo.
Boquerones and gambas for dinner, next door.
||Over coffee we decided that the route to Cueva de Resplenda (up the
valley from Urdón to the Urdón canal) was probably impractical,
but we’d go for the walk anyway. Breakfast part 2 was Picón cheese
at Posada La Cuadrona in La Hermida; then on to the hydroelectric
plant at Urdón (📌, gps track).
Close to the start and just a few yards after the first bridge over
the river we noticed a viable zig-zag track, gently sloped and mostly
grassy, that appeared to head south and upwards to the downstream
end of the canal, which would then offer a level 2.5 km walk to the
The path proved to be spectacular; stunning views of the mountains,
the Deva Gorge, and the route up to Tresviso – while rapidly lifting
us 400m vertically in less than that distance horizontally. At about
¾ of the way up we crossed the water downpipe which then rose
vertically up a cliff face. The path continued to zig-zag (quite
‘exposed’ in places) then headed for the cliff, where no path seemed
Urdón river (centre) seen from canal level
In fact it entered tunnels which snaked around the cliff face behind
the water pipe and then ascended up steep steps to the electricity
company’s platform at the end of the canal.
Urdón cliff tunnel
The canal/downpipe junction was enclosed in a locked cage, and even
though we could see the path alongside the canal, unfortunately it
was unreachable without acrobatics (and clearly signed as no public
access). It was not a huge disappointment, however, as we had been
climbing for over two hours and were beginning to think of lunch...
Two hours later we were back at La Cuadrona in La Hermida for a very
good lunch of filete, lomo, criollo, etc. After lunch
we drove up to Bejes to visit the Quesería La Brañuca (source
of our favourite cheese) and a walk around. Finally back to Potes
for more explorations and (eventually) a lamb and duck dinner at
El Cenador del Capitán. A memorable day.
Quesería La Brañuca, Bejes
||Time for the High Picos. Eschewing the teleférico at Fuente Dé,
we drove up the track from Espinama to the Refugio Odriozola at Áliva
(Alt. 1666m). From there a steady climb up to the Horcadina de Covarrobres
(1926m) took us above some snow patches to expansive views of the
Back down to the car and then to Espinama for lunch; foolishly, we
ordered fabada in Cantabria.
High Picos, west from Horcadina de Covarrobres (click for full size)
Tried a new restaurant in the evening; Asador Llorente. Vast quantities
of ribs and criollo, but very good. Pleased to find Viñas
de Vero on the list.
Travel to San Vicente. Plan A was a walk from the Deva Gorge up
to Cicera then lunch in La Hermida, but a downpour at the start of
the walk mutated that to Picón in La Hermida and a drive to Cicera
and a walk around the village to find the top of the walk (and an
old mill). Continued past Lafuente and visited Quintanilla and Bielva
before a pleasant lunch at Casa Gloria in Camijanes. Next to San
Vicente to check in then explore the mediaeval walls etc. Dinner
of chiperones (squid) and ibérico (ham).
Old Mill in Cicera
Grey skies but dry so off to Suarías to look at the pitch in Cueva
La Redonda just north of the village, visited in 2013. The path
down to the cave was fairly easy but both cavers were feeling rather
uncoordinated below ground (in contrast to the trip to Pruneda a
few days before); perhaps a warm-up walk would have been advisable.
The pitch was soon found – just within sight of daylight. Slightly
less water than 2013, but the pool at the bottom was at least a metre
deep! Not very inviting.
Bill in Cueva La Redonda
The good news was that there were many dragonfly nymphs in various
stages of metamorphosis into magnificent black and yellow adults.
Dragonfly in Cueva La Redonda
On towards Comillas via Cueva Soplao in a search for limestone.
Then a cross country route from there to Roiz but nothing of special
speleological interest noted. After much menu-reading, lunch in
Casa La Aldea – excellent chiperones en su tinta for Bill and
pijota a la plancha (baby hake) for Mike – essentially a perfect
Dinner at La Brasa (on the steps) but we didn’t really appreciate
the paella and lomo from the menú del dia, partly because
we had eaten so well at lunch.
||Tuesday, so off to Cueva Pindal to view the paintings; however our
assumption that the opening hours (every day, free on Tuesday) were
unchanged since our last visit 28 years ago proved to be false (it
is now free on Wednesday, closed Monday & Tuesday, appointment needed).
So no cave visit, but a pleasant short walk and view of the cliffs
Next Site of Speleological Interest was the Bufones de Arenillas
(near Vidiago) where the stormier weather caused alarmingly loud
roars to blast from the limestone.
Third to the inland Playa de Gulpiyuri (inland beach) to attempt
a better photo. As calculated, the tide was in – but there were
many sunbathers on the beach, so panorama stitching was tricky.
Gulpiyuri inland beach (click for full size)
Retracing our steps via Posada took us to Casa Poli for a good lunch.
A walk to the outer sea wall of San Vicente in the afternoon, and
a light supper of Manchego cheese.
||After checking out and a spot of shopping for cheese, etc., headed
east to Virgen de la Peña (just east of Cabezón de la Sal) to
follow a lead from an old Oxford report. Flat, industrial, and no
limestone, so probably a mis-log. While checking the map, however,
Mike noticed a village a few km north of Cabezón called La Virgen
with three streams converging and ending in a depression. Guessing
this was the place, we retraced steps back to it.
On arrival, navigation was difficult; at least one road (El Llano
to Cobijón) is not on the map, and the ‘depression’ turned out
to be a small hill. After some circuits and walks, we determined
that the La Virgen stream went around the hill and joined another,
larger, stream. The resulting riverlet carried on north ... but
there seemed to be no valley for it to flow into. Further, to the
north was a limestone ridge.
We confirmed that the river flowed into a closed depression by looping
north via Cotera Mollano, Pulmaverde, and Rodezas to Cobijón.
Here we found a descent to the river which flowed intriguingly around
a corner in limestone (📌).
As we were on the way to the airport and not dressed for exploration
this had to be left for next year, although a local confirmed there
is a cave there.
Cobijón blind valley
We celebrated the new find with a fine menú in Puenticilla
(soup, salad, confit de pato, and a supplementary platter of
cheese). Thus fortified, on to the airport. Uneventful flight &
drive for Mike, except for a frustrating 45-minute traffic jam just
10 minutes from home. Bill similarly got stuck in a motorway traffic
- Exchange rate: 1.25; 80p = 1 Euro = 166 pesetas (208 pts/GBP).
- Weather: pleasant, 18–23°C max most days; a couple of damp
- The pictures in this log were taken using a Panasonic DMC-LF1 camera;
its stabilisation and F2 lens allowed the cave photographs here to
be taken hand-held and lit by the headlamps we were wearing.
- Specific GPS positions are shown by a pushpin symbol (📌)
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
WGS84 datum and in UTM coordinates; see Coordinate systems.
- Two walks were recorded as GPS tracks; the .gpx files are linked
above as ‘gps tracks’ and can also be found on the Speleogroup tracks
page; where Google Earth links can also be found.
- Fixes and tracks 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.