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,
Mexico, New England
The Battle of
Expedition log, Summer 2015
San Vicente, Potes, Llanes, Cabañuca, Fuentica.
New: click on any thumbnail image for a full-size
||A staggered start this year; Mike to Oviedo (delayed three hours),
Bill to Santander a few days later. Once in Oviedo was soon on the
road to San Vicente and (partly due to the motorway between Llanes
and Unquera now being complete) arrived in time for a late dinner.
High temperature forecast (it turned out to be a high of 29.8°C)
so went inland to Arenas for a mostly shady walk NE from the town
to La Cabreriza and circling back SE. Not much limestone; just a
few outcrops. Hot. Lunch – trout with bacon, etc. – at Sidreria
La Jueya (east end of main street) then to Ortiguero for a short
walk in search of breeze. Then via Meré and El Mazuco (to visit
Pozo de Fresno) to Llanes to visit a cheese festival and a stroll
around the town. Dinner in San Vicente, Bar Colón; excellent fritos
View of Arenas from walk
Another very hot day (27°C), tried a coast walk this time, starting
at Punta del Fraile (just west of San Vicente) circling east and
back (with a stop at the very welcome Posada El Balcón) just north
of Santillán and via the beach below the Point. Lunch in Comillas
next door to last year’s restaurant (which is closed on Mondays)
up the Calle de Aldea, then did some sightseeing, notably El Capricho
de Gaudí – a highly decorated mini-mansion.
View from Puenta del Fraile
Cloudy and wet on the coast. A good day to head south. First stop
Bárcena Mayor – a remarkable village like a larger version of
Bulnes, but unfortunately accessible to cars. Then south towards
Reinosa, noting various limestone outcrops seen from Balcón de
la Cardosa (not very promising), and over the Puerto de Palombera
Next, to the Roman town of Julióbriga, which is close to Bolmir,
just south of Reinosa. Museum closed, but the remains were interesting.
Julióbriga Roman town g0724
Usual problems finding a restaurant for lunch in Reinosa, but stumbled
over the same restaurant as in 2012 (Mesón las Fuentes); this time
chose the chuletillas de lechazo – very acceptable. Back to
the coast in better weather and a walk around Santillana. Dinner
of cogote de Merluza (nape of Hake) at Rte. Las Redes in SV was
||Decided to investigate the ridge of limestone to the west of Puente
Viesgo (re-spotted from the Motorway on the way to Torrelavega on
First approached from the north, a little west of Vargas; a nice
little road led to Barrio Santa María del Monte, from there a shortish
hike to a medium-sized depression. Descended ... just a muddy sink.
Very little other limestone on the north side, so around (via Puente
Viesgo) to the southern side and La Bárcena. Impressive-looking
but nothing obviously speleological.
Depression and saddle near Barrio Santa María
Retired to the coast, Suances, for lunch; a huge beach but an otherwise
unattractive town, apart from some pleasant coast walks. A dinner
(menú) of two halves at Bar Colón; certainly the worst-ever
paella – rice swimming in 5mm of oil – as the starter, followed
by superb fritos de Merluza.
||To Santander Airport to meet Bill. Then to Casa Gloria in Camijanes
for an average menú. Decided to cross over to Panes via Merodio
and look for a cave Bill remembers from 1973.
Didn’t find that, but instead noticed on our new electronic ‘offline’
maps a small valley ending in a saddle (which a road crossed), at
Casamaría. A quick diversion and walk down a track led to a stream
which, in turn, led to a cave! We went in 10m (stopped because not
in caving clothes); the cave continues at least 8m more (Δ). We then looked below the saddle and found
a possible resurgence.
Mike in Cueva de Casamaria
Well pleased with finding a new cave on the day of Bill’s arrival,
we continued on to El Mazo to visit La Loja show cave (closed, Δ) and then to La Hermida for a snack of Picón
(cheese). Then to Potes to check-in, followed by an evening of grazing
||A grey day, with clouds touching the mountains. First to Fuente
Dé to find the source of the River Deva (indeterminate/dry) and
to gauge the cloudbase. Definitely below the upper cablecar station,
so cancelled plans to drive up to Áliva.
Instead looked for a road to the limestone East of Cueva de Fair Share (unsuccessfully), followed by a pleasant lunch at Rte. Paquin
in La Hermida. Then up to Bejes for some aggressive cheese and chat
to the locals, followed by a walk up the Riega Cicera to view the
‘pothole in the wall’ (Δ). Somewhat
damp, so back to Potes to write up the log, followed by criollo
and large “chuletillas” at Asador Llorente.
Riega Cicera; pothole in the wall
Grey at first, but the sun came out as we started to walk up the
Latarma valley, past Cueva del Toyu (track). Walked up beyond the saddle above Cororigo resurgence (Δ), but turned back before Cueva La Huerta
so as not to miss lunch at Casa Gloria in Camijanes. Lunch was very
noisy, with a local pipe, drum, and tambourine band, etc., as it
was a fiesta day.
After lunch, again decided to cross over to Panes via Merodio and
look for the cave Bill remembers from 1973. Found the right track
this time (at Δ) but the meadow on
the left, with the cave, is now a gorse jungle. Thrashed around
in that for some time before admitting defeat and retiring to Posada
La Cuadrona in La Hermida for some creamy blue Picón cheese.
Light supper in Casa Angel.
||After a large breakfast (ham & cheese tortilla) in Casa Cayo we decided to drive south west,
knowing that limestone might be in short supply! The alternative
would have been into the Picos where Sunday traffic (walkers) would
be excessive. But there was little traffic on the N621 which is
just as well for a mountain road with many hairpins! The views were
spectacular, particularly from the Puerto de San Glorio pass at 1599m
(somewhat reminiscent of the Rockies in Colorado). Some of the sandstone
peaks were covered by lichen which gave the rock a beautiful green
appearance – discernible even over kilometres.
Descending into the province of León we turned north again at Portilla
de la Reina towards Posada de Valdeón. From the high point (Puerto
de Pandetrave, 1566m) we could see the Picos and in particular the
valley up from Espinama towards Áliva. The road traversed carboniferous
limestone (Caliza de Montaña) but other than a spring or two, little
of speleological note.
Pandetrave pass panorama
Retracing our route back to Portilla we continued on better road
to Riaño where we visited the museum commemorating the old (now
flooded) Riaño and ate well at Hotel Presa: roast cabrito (goat)
for Bill, chuletillas for Mike, and a 2011 bottle of Vallebueno
Ribera del Duero. Excellent food, wine, and service.
Cablecar upper station, from Mirador de Llesba
On the return we took a detour from Puerto de San Glorio to see Mirador
de Llesba at the Collado de Llesba; more magnificent views of the
Picos. Menú de la noche at Bodegon Aguilar (just next to Casa
After breakfast we drove again to Espinama and took the mountain
track up to the Refugio Áliva (1666m). The Toyota managed quite
well but Bill complained he would have preferred a higher-torque
diesel. Although a Monday, there were plenty of walkers coming down
from the cable car. We walked up the “usual” track (past the Chalet
Real to the Horcadina de Covarrobres pass, 1933m, and along the ‘flat
bit’) for 3.7 km in 1:20 and back down again by a slightly steeper
but more direct route (just north of Cuetos de Juan Toribio) in 55
minutes. Didn’t see any Chamois.
Áliva walk; Bill and snow
It was much easier to drive down the track and we lunched at Restaurante
Maximo in Espinama: tabla for Bill and lomo for Mike, washed
down with 2012 Izadi (Rioja). A hot day (31°C in Espinama).
A travel-to-Llanes and caving day. First, after a stop for some
more Picón at La Cuadrona in La Hermida, was Cabañuca for
a nice big ‘walk-in’ cave for some caving and photography experiments
[main result: with image stabilization, hand-held shots at 1/5s
were successful, but that’s too slow for a moving subject caver].
Picón at La Hermida
First, however, the ‘grassy slope’ down to the cave had to be negotiated;
it is now a thicket of bracken, bramble, and hawthorn. Somewhat
bloodied (and grateful for the caving helmets we were wearing) a
pleasant caving trip followed, scrambling down over boulders. Next
(after more fun in the thicket) was lunch, at Rte. Cares in Arenas:
ham salad and stuffed peppers for Bill, fabes and filete
for Mike, all good.
Soon it was late enough to visit the Gamonéu Cheese museum in Demués
– open from 17:00 to 19:00 in July and August, according to its
website. We eventually found it: closed, deserted, and no visible
evidence of cheese. Re-checked Cueva del Agua then to Rales to visit
María Carmen and her husband Leopoldo, friends from the 1970s.
Also met up with them later, in Llanes.
||After deciding that Cueva a Sul was too wet we settled on an
ambitious photographic trip in La Fuentica (Rales System).
A 10 minute walk up the hill and over the saddle (Δ) brought us to the well-known entrance, also now getting
more overgrown (track). Mike’s
floodlight (see Notes) provided extraordinary illumination. This
time we noted considerable flood debris in various states of decomposition
including a large tree trunk. And, also, one of the infamous “squalid
pools” of the 1970s has reappeared and obstructed progress. Bill
managed to crawl through some mud round the side of the pool and
proceeded for 100m and then up the left hand ramp toward the downstream
series. On return he accidentally measured the depth of the pool
which reached his upper thigh! Meanwhile Mike was taking photos...
Fuentica; Bill near squalid pool
After a quick wash at the Fuente Pumares (on the old Rales road)
we proceeded to Bar Roxin in El Mazuco only to be told that without
a reservation we would have to wait an hour. So we retraced our
route back to El Sucón for ribs, chorizo, criollo and patatas
oli. Then back to Llanes via Posada. A very light supper of cheeses
at La Amistad.
||A wet and windy day. After abandoning Bill to his fate at Santander Airport – the airport forgot to load his rucksack onto the aeroplane and delivered it two days later – Mike headed west in the hope of finding some sunshine. A brief glimmer while passing Unquera prompted him to turn south an re-visit the track off the Merodio road visited earlier (08.08). We had since noticed a more open area further along the track, and indeed this proved to be relatively gorse-free. Some serious bracken-bashing ensued, but no cave found – but a pleasant walk, overall.
Then a round trip via Cangas back to Llanes for lunch of solomillo
con salsa de setas; constant, if light, rain. The rain cleared
later so walked out to Playa Toró and back into Llanes via the
site of the old El Brao campsite. A diversion into Barrio La Cava
led to the discovery of two (very small) caves.
||An uneventful drive (mostly in the dark) to Asturias Airport, and later a much less-pleasant 4-hour drive from Stansted to Coventry.
- Exchange rate: 1.425 (compared to 1.25 in 2014); 70p = 1 Euro = 166
pesetas (237 pts/GBP).
- Weather: after a very hot start, pleasant, 18–23°C max most
days; a couple of damp days.
- The pictures in this log were mostly taken using a Panasonic DMC-LF1
camera; its stabilisation and F/2 lens allowed the cave photographs
here to be taken hand-held and lit by the headlamps we were wearing.
Also used were a DMC-GM5 µ4/3 camera, with various lenses,
and (in La Fuentica) a Manfrotto Muse LED floodlight.
- 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 (Lartarma and Rales) were recorded as GPS tracks; the
.gpx files are linked above as ‘track’ 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 Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Android
’phone using the MyTrails app.
- This log was almost entirely edited in the field on an ASUS T-100
‘Transformer’ notebook, using the MemoWiki » extended Wiki notation which is then processed by a Rexx » script to generate the HTML for this web page.