Lago Ercina

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Translation:

 The Battle of
 El Mazuco


Expedition log, March 2022

Bufones, Llamigo, Pruneda resurgence, Cobijeru×2

Click on (or tap) any image thumbnail for a full-size version.
Date
Activity
11.03 Both leave home around 06:00 and by 15:10 we were heading north from Madrid in sunshine.  Later rain slowed the driving, but we arrived in Llanes at 21:00, just as restaurants were opening.  We dined at Taberna Mezcolanza (El Galeón); bocartes and secreto Iberico, followed by a plate of picón cheese, all washed down with La Planta.

12.03 Unlike two years ago, the hotel was full and so its restaurant was open for breakfasts – continental for Mike and an impressively full breakfast for Bill.  In due course (via Posada and Puente Nuevo) to El Mazuco to book a table for lunch later.  That secured, on to Alto de la Tornería for two very pleasant walks with hazy views but in sunshine and 15°C.

<i>costillas</i> at El Mazuco

costillas at El Mazuco

Lunch at El Roxin was superb; criollo, patatas ali-oli, and costillas de cerdo – the latter being ‘best ever’.  Must order half-portions next time, however...

Back down to Llanes for a gentle stroll along the Paseo de San Pedro watching the waves preceding the forecast storm in pleasant sunshine, followed by prospecting restaurants near the hotel (Sablón) in anticipation of a very wet evening.  Happily the rain held off and we had salty gambas at Amistad, making it back to the hotel just as the rain started.  Much rain overnight.

13.03 A sunny morning with a clear view of the Sierra de Cuera.
Bufones de Pría, with <i>arco iris</i>

Bufones de Pría, with arco iris

Headed west after breakfast beyond Garaña and the Playa de Guadamía to view the bufones as the sea was predicted to be rough.  And it was! Some excellent views of spray coming out of multiple fissures in the rocks above the cliffs accompanied by the roar of air compressed by the waves.  The spray also produced local rainbows.  Total walking about 2 km.

We then drove east to Casa Poli in Vidiago, arriving just in time for lunch at 13:30.  There was already a queue of customers waiting outside as it is not possible to reserve a table and demand is high. Bill had his favourite magret de pato (duck) and Mike had merluza a la Romana (hake, somewhat undercooked).

On the return we stopped off at Sidrería El Chispero in Pendueles and were served some good Ribera del Duero as we sat next to a warm wood-pellet stove.  Dinner at Uría in Llanes (paella and lomo).

14.03 A couple of coffees in a very quiet and rather cold Monday-morning town, then west to search again for the Llamigo resurgence.  We forgot to read the 2019 log but recognised a precarious tree-trunk bridge – but the ford nearby was impassable because of the depth of the water due to the storm 36 hours earlier.  A pleasant 2 km walk in any case.

Bill near Collado del Torno

Bill near Collado del Torno

Then up to the Collado del Torno (where we took 360° photos last year), after spotting ‘La Cuevona de la Caleya’ on Google maps about 900m west of the pass.  Another pleasant 2 km walk with fine views of the snow-topped Picos, but the small depression where the ‘Cuevona’ was marked was not at all promising, and indeed it turned out be a false marker on the map as the Cuevona is much closer to Cangas.

Back down to Nueva for a somewhat average lunch at Sidería Muros, then back to Llanes via Poo.

15.03 An overcast but warm-ish day and off towards the lakes (Lagos Enol & Ercina) via Cangas de Onis where Mike bought himself a gilet as he had been feeling cold.  The road from Covadonga to Lago Ercina is open to traffic at this off-season time of year; on the way up we noticed the Gueyu Reinazo (Trumbio resurgence), conspicuous by its lack of vegetation.  Our objective was another intermediate entrance to Trumbio found by Spanish cavers a few years ago.  We estimated that this could be approached from the Orandi track and then cutting down the valley through meadow and woods.

Trumbio possible entrance

Trumbio possible entrance

We found Mike’s ‘entrance shaft’ of 2019 and after thrashing through brambles another possible entrance 📌 was found in a depression.  Not very promising as the passage closed down after 3 m and there were no footprints; our conclusion was that the Trumbio survey had not been corrected to allow for the known position of the lower entrance.

We drove up to lake Ercina but, predictably, restaurante/bar María Rosa was closed.  There was no view of the mountains in the strange hazy mist (colima) so we descended the road again then, at the bottom of the valley, we turned east and stopped at Casa María for a plate of Gamonéu cheese.  This must have been quite filling as we left a quarter of it.  Dinner at Restaurante Uría where the 13€ Menu offered soup + escalopines al Cabrales for Mike and fabada + salmon for Bill.  Excellent value.

16.03 We rose to see dark and foreboding pink skies (due to unusually heavy Saharan dust blowing from the south – probably also the cause of the haze the day before).  Our grey car had a newly brown roof.  Plan A was to fly the drone above Suarías, but early rain scuppered that and Plan B (drone Pozo de Infierno) too.

<i>huevos con jamón</i>

huevos con jamón

Onward to La Hermida for Riojas and picón and some planning, followed by heading east to try a new restaurant: Casa Cofiño, Caviedes (SE of San Vicente).  Good food (a ‘taster’ portion of cocido de montañes for Mike and huevos con jamón for Bill), and an extensive wine list that omitted all the ‘usual suspects’; we enjoyed a Pétalos Bierzo.

We then checked out another ‘new’ restaurant recommended by our hotel (Sidrería Casa El Rubiu, Vidiago) which looked promising for another time.

By now the rain was quite heavy so we returned to Llanes.  Mike braved the rain for a while, including visiting Bar Pinín to get warm – it is small but has two large radiators.  The landlady (since about 2001) recognised him despite the mascarilla.

17.03 After a full breakfast at the hotel, we drove east to Purón and then up the steep and narrow mountain track to view the El Cuevón de la Pruneda resurgence.  The road was wet and the wheels kicked up considerable amounts of goat excrement, presumably deposited by the herd meandering slowly up the track before us – making the car even more brown.

Pruneda resurgence

Pruneda resurgence

The resurgence water was cascading on the other side of the valley so we sent the new drone over to investigate; the alternative was to effect a through trip of the cave (as we had done in 1985 and 1986) but lack of ropes, tackle, and wetsuits (not to mention lack of youth) gave the drone the advantage.

Regular readers of this site will know that it took some 90 minutes just to descend from the cave resurgence to Purón village over the very steep and rough terrain in the 1980s.  In contrast it took the drone just three minutes to get within 50m of the resurgence, where we took photos (the water can be seen cascading down from the resurgence in the attached photo) and a spherical panorama [360°].  Despite the reduced undergrowth at this time of year a clear view of the downstream entrances was not really possible.

<i>cabras “arborícolas”</i>

cabras “arborícolas”

We drove carefully back down the hill – admiring the tree-climbing goats! 

We had hoped to find some refreshment in Pendueles, but the bar was closed.  Further east in San Vicente de la Barquera many restaurants were closed so we opted to try Comillas where we had an excellent lunch at Las Filipinas (black rice for Bill, chuletillas for Mike).

18.03 A chilly but dry start.  Since the forecast was cloudy (with chance of showers) we decided this was the day for a spot of caving, in Cueva Cobijeru.
Cobijeru upper entrance

Cobijeru upper entrance

We duly arrived at the cave, despite deep mud on the path, for a pleasant trip through the cave to the sea-cave entrances with huge waves crashing against the cliffs outside.  Mike was a little surprised how out-of-practice he was at balancing across the rough terrain. The tide was incoming so as the waves washed further into the cave we explored more of the cave away from the sea.

Caving and photos done, we retired to the Pendueles bar with the warm wood-pellet stove until it was time for another lunch at Casa Poli: magret de pato and gambas.  Back to Llanes via Poo.

It being Friday, the choice of restaurants was almost as normal; ‘all the usual suspects’ (twenty or more) compared to just two or three earlier in the week.  A light below-average supper at Almacén.

19.03 A bright morning so off east to Unquera for (relatively) cheap fuel, then south to Suarías and up the track to the depressions above.  It was soon clear that it was much too windy at this altitude to fly the drone safely – we had planned to photograph Cueva El Arco.  Disappointed, we drove down to Panes and then west to Trescares to reconnoitre the restaurant Monte Río.

Naranja de Bulnes

Naranja de Bulnes

It was too early for lunch; however, another recommended restaurant was La Sidrería Casa Niembro at Asiegu, with views of the ‘Naranja de Bulnes’ peak on the way.  But, even though we were early, all the tables had been booked.  So we returned to Arenas de Cabrales and had an excellent Menú at Rte. Santelmo.  Embutidos followed by egg, chorizo and chips for Bill, while Mike had escalopines – without batter, but with (unsurprisingly) superior Cabrales sauce. Good value at 24€ for both.

Dinner at Mar&Más, a new restaurant in the “alley” in Llanes: calamares en su tinto and rabas (calamares in batter). Expensive and poor service.

20.03 A beautiful sunny morning (it reached 19°C later).  Headed east to Cobijeru (Buelna) to fly the drone to take pictures of the cliffs from the sea to see if we can spot the sea entrances to Cobijeru cave.  Excellent flying conditions with very light winds; took five spherical panoramas (including this [360°]), a number of stills, and a couple of videos [all to be analysed in detail later].

Cobijeru and Buelna from over the sea

Cobijeru and Buelna from over the sea

Then via Pendueles to Casa Poli for lunch (for the third time this trip, making at least 20 visits since 2001!).  As always, excellent food; jamón serrano, followed by magret de pato and chuletillas. Back to Llanes for a walk in the sun, packing, etc.

21.03 Left Llanes at 07:00 for the long drive to Madrid; mostly dry but some rain.  Sadly the stop we’d planned at Hostal LandHaus in El Molar (just 30 minutes north of the airport) for the tostada of cheese and jamón serrano we’d enjoyed on our arrival day was closed on Mondays...

Uneventful flights home, with a lot less paperwork than in 2021.


Notes:

  1. Expedition mantra: “I hate masks!”.
  2. Exchange rate: 1.17 EUR/GBP (compared to 1.43 in 2015, 1.10 in 2020); 85.0p = 1 Euro = 166 pesetas (≈194 pts/GBP).
  3. Petrol was €1.87/litre, in Unquera (a record high).
  4. Weather: really nice days both weekends; cold & sometimes wet mid-week.
  5. The drone flown was a DJI Mavic 2 Pro »; 27 min in total.
    GPX tracks of the drone flights may be available if you contact us.
  6. The pictures in this log were taken using a Sony RX100M6 camera, a Panasonic LF1, various phones, and the drone.
  7. 360° panoramas are very large and so are not displayed in this log; instead, click on the [360°] marker to open and then save the panorama.
  8. 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.
  9. Fixes and tracks were recorded using a Samsung S10e Android ’phone using the MyTrails app (or by the drone, for drone flights).
  10. This log was almost entirely edited in the field on a Lenovo Yoga notebook, using the MemoWiki » extended Wiki notation which is then processed by a Rexx » script to generate the HTML for this web page.

Expeditions to the Picos de Europa and elsewhere since 1973.
Please e-mail Mike Cowlishaw (mfc@speleogroup.org) or Bill Collis (bill@speleogroup.org)
if you have any corrections, suggestions, etc.   See also the SpeleoTrove speleology section ».
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This page was last edited on 2022-04-22 by mfc.